Monday, 17 May 2010

The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Lost Boy

Part One

“Children have no place in my life.”

Ah. It appears this write-up may also be a little longer than I’d intended my SJA write-ups to be. Bah.

We get a very early mention of Slitheen- do you reckon Phil Ford might be insinuating something here? It’s a nice and well acted scene, with Maria calmly explaining to her father just what she’s been doing all these weeks. Alan takes it well, but he’s worried that his daughter might be exposing himself to danger and, well, he’s right. Still, he changes to mind and the whole gang’s now one happy family. Nothing can possibly go wrong.

Suddenly the rug is pulled out from underneath everything with the revelation that Luke is apparently a kidnapped boy called Ashley- and Mr Smith confirms this. Instinctively we wonder if this might mean some kind of reality shift just like last time. Chrissie calls in the police, and things are looking grim.

Fortunately, Sarah has powerful friends and the investigation is not pursued. Still, Sarah Jane has been hurt deeply through being forced to give up Luke and, not for the first time, she responds by retreating inwards, wanting nothing more to do with Maria or Clyde for fear of being hurt more. This is an interesting development of her character, very well portrayed by Lis Sladen, which clearly has roots in her abandonment by the Doctor.

Then everything is turned on its head again as Luke’s new “parents” gradually reveal themselves to be baddies. And in a puzzling interlude Mr Smith sends Sarah Jane on a trip to somewhere called the Pharos Project, where we encounter a Professor Rivers, played by kids’ TV goddess Floella Benjamin. Blimey. Watching her presenting Play School is pretty much among my very earliest childhood memories, possibly thirty years ago. Now that makes me feel old.

We end (almost) on a double cliffhanger, as Luke’s “parents” and an annoying kid genius reveal themselves to be Slitheen and, incredibly, Mr Smith reveals himself to be a baddie and zaps Clyde (thereby making sense of their first meeting earlier in the series!). I make that four times in one episode that we’ve been shown that everything we thought we knew was wrong. Brilliant.

Although I must say was a bit surprised to see our heroes skiving school on a BBC kids’ programme…!

Part Two

“Well done, Clyde. You’re not as stupid as you pretend to be, are you?”

More coolness, as Sarah Jane gets to steal an artefact from the Pharos Institute, while Alan earns his spurs with the gang by helping Maria track down Clyde. And Clyde, in an extremely cool scene, gets to show how indispensible he is by making text appear on Alan’s laptop and revealing that Mr Smith has gone bad; he’s come a long way from the start of the series.

If we hadn’t had enough big reveals already, it turns out that Mr Smith is playing both our gang and the Slitheen against each other. Fortunately, they team up to defeat him, and Alan turns out to be a bit of a computer whiz, which is nice.

Less nice is the revelation that Mr Smith has been using Sarah Jane all this time, and for eighteen months he’s been working towards this moment; the release of his Xylok mates from within the Earth’s crust, destroying the world in the process. Fortunately, Sarah Jane defeats him with a bit of surprise help from K9 (yay!) and Alan’s disk. We end with a nice little heart-warming coda where everyone, even Chrissie, is shown as one big family.

I loved that. So much so that it tops even the last episode. 5/5.

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