Thursday, 28 April 2016

The Sarah Jane Adventures, Season 2 (2008)

The second season of The Sarah Jane Adventures sees a shake-up in the core cast, as the actor playing Maria needed to leave to focus on her school exams.  She's replaced by a suspiciously similar substitute character named Rani (and I do mean similar, to the point of also having a mother who can never get Sarah Jane's name right).

Other than that, though, it's business as usual for the alien-fighting Ms Smith and her teenage sidekicks in season two.  They tangle with several new enemies, as well as some returning foes - they even have one villain both debut and return in the course of this series - but the basic formula of the show remains intact: Sarah Jane and Co get mixed up with some aliens who are up to no good and thanks to some character trait or skill one of them possesses, eventually save the day from the extraterrestrial threat.

Of course, there's nothing particularly wrong with following a basic formula if you execute it well, and on the whole this show does get the execution right.  It's true that it sometimes suffers a little from being targeted at a young audience, as the writing is occasionally rather unsubtle: the otherwise excellent "Secrets of the Stars" story, for instance, does everything short of grabbing the audience and shaking them with its 'hints' as to the enemy's weakness.

Callbacks to parent show Doctor Who feel more prominent in this series than the last.  The most notable example is doubtless the appearance of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart in the season finale, but the season opener is also a direct (and superior to the original) sequel to an episode of NuWho ("The Poison Sky").

Probably the only misstep of the season for me is the story involving returning villain "The Trickster".  The conceptual similarities to NuWho episode "Father's Day" are a bit too similar for my tastes (even if the specific details are quite different).

Overall, this is fun stuff with a fine cast.  Recommended if you're looking for family-friendly SF adventure.

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