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A Mixed Bag, but Kids Will Love This
on 7 September 2009
'The Sarah Jane Adventures' is CBBC's very own 'Doctor Who' spin-off series, created by Russell T Davies and charting the adventures of the Doctor's former travelling companion Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen), now going it alone as a freelance investigator and troubleshooter specialising in the strange and the alien, with help from her adopted son Luke, and his friends Maria and Clyde. This set contains all ten episodes (five two-part stories) from the first series, plus the special, 'Invasion of the Bane' which kicks things off and introduces the characters.
The series itself is something of a mixed bag, being consciously aimed at a younger audience to its parent show, which leads to the occasional awkward moment, usually where a guest actor threatens to undermine proceedings by going a little too far into 'pantomime' territory - 'Revenge of the Slitheen' and 'Warriors of Kudlak' both suffer from this, which is a shame as generally speaking the stories themselves are pretty well written and intelligent for a children's show. Highlights include 'Invasion of the Bane' and 'The Lost Boy', but the crowning achievement of this first series is 'Whatever Happened To Sarah Jane?', in which history is changed and Sarah Jane is replaced by her childhood friend, who died when they were 11. It's a very effective tale with themes in common with the 'Doctor Who' episode 'Turn Left', and boasts a great guest appearance from Jane Asher as Andrea Yates, who switched places with Sarah Jane in order to save her own life.
Although not quite as compelling as 'Doctor Who', 'The Sarah Jane Adventures' is an engaging series that kids looking for a little extra sci-fi adventure will love.