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Sarah Jane's Best Series,
This review is from: The Sarah Jane Adventures - Series 4 [DVD] (DVD)
Series four of the massively popular Doctor Who spin-off is the best of the bunch. This time the series is slightly more grown-up and the stories become a little more ambitious and best of all there's not a huge reliance on returning monsters which has often been the case in previous series (presumably due to budget issues).
The two disc set includes the following two-part stories:
The Nightmare Man - This story sees Luke moving away from Bannerman Road however his encounter with The Nightmare Man may well mean the end of the world. This is a strong opener and probably one of the darkest Sarah Jane stories of the entire series.
The Vault of Secrets - Sarah Jane and the gang find themselves crossing paths once again with Androvax, the Veil from last series' opening story. This time Rani's mother Gita finds herself in on the action and there's an appearance from the Men in Black from Doctor Who - Dreamland [DVD]. A good story with some great special effects in part two.
The Death of the Doctor - This is a brilliant Doctor Who cross-over episode which sees the return of classic companion Jo Grant (now Jo Jones) as well as the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) who finds himself in on the action when a race of vulture like aliens known as the Shansheeth fake his death. This story is a lot of fun and it's great seeing Matt and Elisabeth interacting on screen for what was sadly the only time.
The Empty Planet - This story sees Rani and Clyde finding that they are the only remaining members of the human race left on earth. This is actually a really good story despite the lack of Sarah Jane and is a much better outing for the gang than last series' Sarah Jane-lite episode The Mona Lisa's Revenge.
Lost in Time - This is one of my all time favourite Sarah Jane Adventures episodes. It's clever, fun, dark, surprising and deals with some adult themes, particularly WWII which was handled very well considering SJA airs on CBBC. I particularly liked the Shopkeeper character who made another appearence in the series five opening story Sky.
Goodbye Sarah Jane - This has to be the best series final of the show since series' one The Lost Boy. Again this is a friarly dark story which deals with grown up themes, even touching slightly on dementia. Also this is one of the saddest episodes, even more so now since the passing of Elisabeth Sladen, as it deals with the fact that Sarah Jane can't protect the earth from aliens forever.
Also included in this set is the classic Doctor Who episode The Pyramids of Mars as a tribute to Elisabeth Sladen which is a nice bonus, especially for younger fans who may not be familiar with classic Who.
The series is presented in a standard amary case (the same style that was used for The Sarah Jane Adventures - The Complete Series 3 Box Set [DVD]) and comes housed in a very nice cardboard sleeve. It's nice to see how much the cover art for the boxsets has improved since the release of The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Complete First Series [DVD].
All in all this is Sarah Jane's best series, at times it's very dark and grown up but it never looses its sense of adventure and wonder which is what I think (aside from the ease of which Elisabeth Sladen slips into the role of Sarah Jane) makes this series the success it was. Highly recommended.