Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The Sarah Jane Adventures: Prisoner of the Judoon

Part One

“Have nice day.”

Well, this is a bit of a contrast after Children of Earth! Not so much subtext. Not so many notes to write up. All this is quite a relief!

Up to now I’ve only seen the first two series of The Sarah Jane Adventures; three and four are new to me. For the first time since Meglos my Marathon viewing is for a story I’ve never seen before. It’s a somewhat odd experience not to know what happens next.

So it’s the first time I’ve seen the opening introductory spiel, narrated by Clyde, which I take it will be appearing before every episode of this series. It’s rather odd, particularly as it’s followed by another introduction to the series this episode and a recap next episode. There’s some rather cheap-looking CGI here, and that’s the first time that I’ve been moved to make a comment like that.

Still, this is an admirably structured semi-reboot from the pen of Phil Ford, nicely re-introducing our entire regular cast for new viewers. And the story takes no time in getting going: an alien spaceship crashes, with a prisoner and escort on board. It’s an inspired decision to play up the PC Plod aspect of the Judoon for comic purposes- love the “requisitioning” of the police car, the sticking to the speed limit, and the scene with the bloke playing loud music in the other car. Androvax looks good, but we don’t get to see much of him before he starts taking over other people’s bodies. This is an inspired bit of cost-cutting, as is using old costumes from Doctor Who, of course.

The most interesting obvious change for the new series seems to be a rethinking of the roles of Gita and Haresh, who now seem to be a comedy double act- logical enough, given the lovely Mina Anwar’s obvious talent for comedy. It’ll be interesting to see if this trend continues.

Part Two

“Nothing to see. Move along.”

Interesting comment about Roswell; it seems Dreamland is all proper canon and that. I’ll have to watch it at the end of my marathon then.

We’ve now established a threat; Androvax is going to use the Nanogenes to make himself a ship, and then destroy the world, as you do. There are loads more Judoon coming to stop him but, as in Smith and Jones, they don’t give a monkeys about human and so care nothing for the safety of the possessed Sarah Jane. Meanwhile, the comedy double act stuff between Gita and Haresh continues, while the jokes at the expense of the Judoon’s law-abiding ways continue. This is very funny indeed, and perfectly pitched for children.

Most brilliant of all is Sladen’s extraordinary performance as a possessed Sarah Jane. This is a superb villainous performance, and shows us a range of acting from her we haven’t had a chance to see before. The way she delivers her lines, almost seductively, with carefully-chosen pauses, is fantastic.

The story ends rather satisfyingly, with a possible parallel between Androvax and the Doctor: both are the last of their kind, both have blood on their hands and both, especially now, are alone.

We end with Clyde, Rani and Luke sentenced by the Judoon to be confined to Earth, and with Gita and Haresh knowing about aliens. I suspect both of these things will be significant.

Solid stuff, which does a good job of subtly rebooting the show. 4/5.

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