Thursday, 10 February 2011

The Sarah Jane Adventures: Enemy of the Bane

Part One

“UNIT have their uses, but, in my experience, guns never solve a problem they didn’t first make worse.”

It’s good to see the Brig again. Of course it’s good to see the Brig again. But is it just me who’s a bit underwhelmed at this by-the-numbers attempt at a season closer?

Things start well, with lots of screen time for lovely, lovely Gita being particularly lovely. But then we get a load of quick set-pieces which don’t seem to add up to anything particularly coherent. It’s a bit of a surprise to see Mrs Wormwood again, but she’s a fairly standard example of the scenery-chewing baddie. Yes, it’s a bit of a surprise to see her people have turned against her and she apparently wants to help our heroes, but we (and our heroes) know she can’t be trusted. Sarah Jane believed the story about the Black Scrolls on very little evidence to the point where she decides to break into a top secret vault. And both she and Rani are cauight on camera- surely there should be consequences? This is the organisation that imprisoned Tosh without trial!

Worse, the Brig doesn’t question Sarah Jane’s reasons for doing this, either. Still, it really is great that we get to see the Brig one last time, especially as we’ll almost certainly never see Nick Courtney on screen ever again, given his health problems. It’s just a shame this wasn’t a more Brig-focused story, although I understand how that wouldn’t have been realistic, and he was a last-minute replacement for Freema Agyeman, intended to appear as Martha. I like the Brig’s comments to Major “Homeworld Security” Kilburne, making it clear that the good old Brig has no truck with the unpleasant undertones of today’s UNIT.

Part Two

“You alien chaps never get the message, do you?”

To no one’s surprise, Kaagh is back, and he’s as deluded and incompetent as ever. One of the more amusing and successful elements of this episode is the power relationship between Kaagh and Mrs Wormwood; she’s definitely the boss, however much he may protest.

Unfortunately, there’s not overmuch dramatic tension here. We know Luke is not going to be tempted by Wormwood (hmm…character called Luke… “I am your mother”… naaah, can’t think what that reminds we of). The reveal of Kilburne being a Bane does work rather well, mind, and it’s good that the Brig gets to deal with him, showing a bit of heroism in what must surely be his last ever appearance.

Unfortunately, the ending (Kaagh sacrificing himself to save the day out of sheer mardiness) is a bit predictable and a bit by-the-numbers, much as this whole story has been.

This whole story is shockingly uninspired. It may not quite manage to be awful, but the plot and the set-pieces just plod along mechanically, with absolutely no verve or excitement. 2/5.

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