Monday, 4 April 2011

The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Mad Woman in the Attic

Part One


“I remember being that.”

Unusual beginning for SJA; we don’t usually get this sort of mildly complex timey-wimey plots, presumably because of worries about whether the young audience would be able to follow it. Personally I don’t see the problem; when I was a very young kid I never really understood the plot of anything but I enjoyed watching television drama anyway. So it’s good to see something like this being attempted, even though it wouldn’t pass as being in any way complex for the other two shows. Interesting how Joseph Lidster, both in SJA and in Torchwood, seems to be getting himself a reputation for framing his narratives with interesting devices. Personally, I like it.

Initially, what with the early scenes being weighted heavily in favour of the older Rani and the future Luke-a-like, it seems this might be a sort of everyone-lite story. But it turns out it isn’t, and it’s a nicely Rani-centric tale of a kind we haven’t really seen before. Most importantly, though, we get more information on the legendary Zodin! “It’s stripy and… they’re odd”, apparently.

Things get very creepy very quickly, though. Abandoned fairgrounds, fixed smiles and forced jollity are genuinely terrifying to me! This may be a cheap episode, but that doesn’t stop it being the most terrifying episode yet. Perhaps it’s just me and my idiosyncratic fears but… isn’t this even a bit too scary for the kids?

Nice episode, with just enough plot revealed to keep us guessing.

Part Two

“Playtime is over.”

Ooh, loads of clips! And some from Doctor Who! In the Seventies! Hope they flog a few DVDs from this. Doesn’t she look young? There’s also some of Sarah Jane’s future… and the TARDIS! Ooh…!

More good stuff happens here. The ghost train is nice and scary, and Rani’s outburst at the others is an interesting first. And the resolution is satisfying; Eve is just a child, the Ship is trying to look after her, and Harry is just a red herring after all. In fact, there are no baddies in the story at all. And K-9 is back. Yay! I look forward to seeing more of this slightly amusing rivalry between him and Mr Smith.

Yes, it’s a little trite and predictable that Sarah Jane should forgive Rani for blabbing everything to Sam, just as she forgave Clyde for blabbing to his dad. And the framing device is resolved a little too easily, perhaps. But this is a very successful attempt at a quieter type of story, and I think it works. 4/5.

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