Since Doctor Who's revival in 2005, it seems that everywhere we turn we are bombarded with Doctor Who merchandise, magazines, toys, DVD's ect and now we have two spin-off series. The first being the more "adult" Torchwood and the second, the more "child friendly" The Sarah Jane Adventures. Both have their own merits, however The Sarah Jane Adventures (SJA) works so much better as a Doctor Who spin-off than what Torchwood does. Firstly, we have a character who many fans have known for years and in a lot of cases, grew up watching. Sarah Jane Smith is once again played by the brilliant Elisabeth Sladen, and here she's back and better than ever armed with her own sonic-lipstick and supercomputer Mr. Smith. Fair enough this does sound a little silly, and it sounds even sillier when we start talking about Slitheens and an alien pop factory, however the show is aimed at kids and it does a good job of catering for that audience as well as an older audience as well. Meaning that this series is enjoyable to anyone who doesn't take it too seriously.
The show itself is of incredible quality compared to some other children's programming. When aired originally each "story" was split into two 30 minute episodes, ending on a cliffhanger which was resolved the following week and that format is restored here in this set.
The episodes are each brilliant in their own way (well maybe except for Revenge of the Slitheen but it's still not bad). Highlights include "Eye of the Gorgon" "Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane?" and "The Lost Boy". That being said, every episode of this series is enjoyable and entertaining, but the ones I mentioned are just the strongest of the bunch. Also present here is the first episode Invasion of the Bane which originally aired as a New Year's special and also acted as the show's first episode which guest stars Samantha Bond as Mrs. Wormwood who goes on to return in the final episode of the second season.
The acting is always on top form. If you are new to the series starting from "Invasion of the Bane" please don't be put off by the one major mistake the writers made which was creating the character of Kelsey, how thankfully was replaced by the much more likable and entertaining Clyde. Aside from Sarah Jane as the lead, we have Maria Jackson played wonderfully by Yasmin Paige who is Sarah Jane's "companion" if you will. Also starring is Tommy Knight as Luke Smith, Sarah's adopted son (yes she has a son now!) and Daniel Anthony as Clyde Langer, the comic relief of the series. Writing, directing and production values are always up to scratch, a lot of effort was put into making this series and it shows on screen and in the quality of the series itself.
The special features aren't as in-depth as those featured on the Doctor Who DVD's, but as the boxset is aimed at the show's target demographic then it is to be expected. There is still a lot to be found on the DVD's though in terms of special features, there is a quiz which "unlocks" an outtake reel, some interviews, Blue Peter spots, trailers and character profiles as well as others. The DVD's come in an attractively designed box, which houses the four discs and the menus are the same as those on the Sarah Jane Adventures - Invasion of the Bane (BBC) [DVD
] DVD, which display an animated and interactive version of Sarah Jane's attic.
This boxset does make a worthy purchase, and a nice addition to any Doctor Who fan's collection, plus the low price Amazon has the set listed at makes this both a bargain and a quality purchase.