Monday, 23 May 2011

The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Empty Planet

Part One

“Your aunt likes rubbish biscuits.”

There’s been a brief hiatus in these Sarah Jane Adventures reviews, as I’m watching them on the hard drive on the communal television downstairs. It’s not so easy to get a clear run at that television with a notebook for fifty minutes, hence the switch to Blake’s 7, which I can easily watch upstairs on DVD. I’m ploughing on, though: after this one there are two more episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures, plus of course a Christmas special and the current series of Doctor Who. It’s just that I’m watching them when I can, and switching to Blake’s 7 when I can’t.

Anyway… we begin with a shot of the Earth from space, by now an almost disturbingly frequent visual motif, and a normal evening for Clyde and Rani, in both cases with some rather touching encounters with a parent.

Then, it’s the following morning, and we follow both Rani and Clyde as they discover that they seem to be the only people left in the world. This might be cheap television, and several minutes of very little dialogue, but it’s effectively done, with lots of nice touches. Finny, from all those episodes ago, gets another mention. The question of why cars and planes don’t seem to have crashed is raised. Clyde leaves cash on the counter when getting breakfast. But the best thing is the rapport between Rani and Clyde. I love the way that neither of them will admit that they fancy each other, lines about Adam and Eve notwithstanding.

We discover that there’s a third person still around, Gavin, and incidentally get confirmation that Rani and Clyde are both sixth formers. This Gavin bloke is obviously important. But the coolest thing about this bit is, of course, the revelation that Clyde can’t stand Chris Moyles. Sensible chap.

There are some more nice scenes between Rani and Clyde, as first they fall out and then they start to reflect, worrying if perhaps they’re just hangers-on, only kept around by Sarah Jane because they’re nosey. It’s great to see that they love what they do.

Suddenly, though, they’re both attacked by robots which look considerably cooler than the one I saw on Blake’s 7 last night…

Part Two

“Jordan love rat shock. Labour backbencher. Lady Gaga. Aston Villa striker. Partly cloudy.”

The plot thickens; Clyde and Rani realise the robots don’t seem to have any sensors to track them down. They work out that they may be left on Earth only because they’ve been grounded by the Judoon, in which case Gavin needs explaining. They’re showing themselves to be very smart and resourceful. And Clyde kisses Rani on the cheek. Well, well, well!

The robots finally make contact; they don’t want to fight, only to bargain. They want the return of their exiled king, who is of course Gavin. Clyde and Rani duly track him down, and everything works out happily. Gavin’s off to be king of an alien planet with CGI rather similar to that of New Earth- nice work if you can get it. And Clyde and Rani are now “lord” and “lady”. Good job this worked out ok; things could have gone all Shrek the Third.

We end happily; Rani and Clyde are closer together, Sarah Jane is bloody proud of them both, and there’s some more amusing red herring stuff about Haresh finding out what’s going on. Another good ‘un.

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