tek's rating: ½

The Sarah Jane Adventures, on CBBC (UK)
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Caution: spoilers!

This is sort of a spin-off of the revival of Doctor Who. The title character, Sarah Jane Smith, was one of the many travelling companions the Doctor had over the years, back on the original series. But this series was prompted, I guess, from her having guest-starred in an episode of the new series. (Back in 1981, it should be noted, the character also starred in a spin-off called K-9 and Company, which never made it past the pilot.) "The Sarah Jane Adventures began with a special episode called Invasion of the Bane, which aired on New Year's Day, 2007. The series proper began in September of that year. (In the US, the original special aired on April 11, 2008, with regular episodes beginning the next week, on Sci-Fi Channel. But while the show had a run of five seasons in the UK, only the first season aired in the US.) Anyway, the show is basically aimed at teenage viewers, and it's certainly nowhere near as good as "Doctor Who." But it's still fairly fun, I think. Oh, and each adventure takes place over the course of two episodes.

Series one (10 episodes / 5 stories)
Sarah Jane is, of course, aware that there are aliens appearing on Earth fairly often, for reasons ranging from visiting, to crash landing, to invasion. Sometimes she'll help them out, and sometimes she has to put a stop to their plans. (It's the latter type that we mostly get to see.) It should also be noted that this is set in an era where, on the new Doctor Who series, aliens have become known by the general public to exist, though this knowledge hasn't really changed how people go about their lives. It's not like there's official contact or anything, and even now many people still don't believe in aliens. It should further be noted that there exist agencies like UNIT and Torchwood to deal with aliens and such things, though Sarah Jane prefers to handle things differently than they would. For a long time now, she's been alone. She doesn't want to put anyone in danger, and besides, most people wouldn't believe anything she has to say, anyway. But in the pilot special, she met a teenage girl named Maria Jackson, who had just moved in across the street from her, along with her father, Alan (presumably no relation to country singer Alan Jackson). Alan is amicably divorced from Maria's mother, Chrissie, who pops in now and then. Anyway, Maria got mixed up in Sarah Jane's investigation of some aliens called the Bane, and thereafter would help Sarah Jane with subsequent adventures. Also in the course of their first adventure together, the two of them met an apparently teenage boy, whom the Bane had created as part of their plot. But since he's actually brand new, never having been born or raised or anything, he didn't know anything about the world. Though he does have the brain power of like 10,000 people who the Bane had scanned to create him. Anyway, he didn't want to be part of the aliens' invasion plot, so he escaped with Sarah Jane, who "adopted" him, and gave him the name Luke Smith. So now he also joins Sarah Jane and Maria on their adventures.

I should also mention that Sarah Jane has a number of alien artifacts that may come in handy, as well as an advanced, alien computer called "Mr. Smith" (perhaps it's even an AI, I dunno), which is useful for all sorts of things, hacking other computers and whatnot. And she has a very useful gadget called "sonic lipstick," which serves the same sorts of functions as the Doctor's sonic screwdriver. (As far as I know, it can't be used as actual lipstick.) And in the first regular episode of the series, the team gains another member, Clyde Langer, who goes to school with Maria and Luke. The first story involves the Slitheen... which is not the name of an alien species, but of a specific family of an alien species with a really long name. The Slitheen were first seen on "Doctor Who." Other than that, the stories mostly have aliens that I think originated on this show. One of the stories introduces a being called the Trickster, who will reappear later in the series. And... I don't know what else to say.

Series two (12 episodes / 6 stories)
At the end of season one, Alan had learned the truth about all the dangerous stuff his daughter had been up to, with Sarah Jane, and wanted to stop her from getting mixed up in such things. He ultimately changed his mind. However, at the start of season two, he got a job offer in Washington, D.C., so he and Maria ended up moving away, after all. But at least Maria gets to help defeat a Sontaran named Kaagh. (And the Jacksons do make an appearance later in the season, via a sort of video call.) In the second story, a new family moves into the Jacksons' old house across from Sarah Jane. They include a teenage girl named Rani Chandra, who soon takes up the spot on Sarah Jane's team that had been vacated by Maria. Rani's father, Haresh, is the new headmaster at Luke, Clyde, and Rani's school. Rani's mother, Gita, works in a flower shop, and always calls Sarah Jane just "Sarah." Also, Rani wants to become a journalist, which provides Sarah Jane with the excuse of mentoring her, to explain how much time Rani spends with her. In one story, the Trickster tricks Sarah Jane into going back in time to meet her parents, whom she'd never known. Of course, she ends up changing the future for the worse, and has to fix her own mistake. That was definitely an interesting story. The final story of the season involves Mrs. Wormwood (from the pilot special) and Kaagh teaming up to seek revenge. The story also features the final appearance of an old ally of the Doctor's, Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, who is now retired from UNIT.

Between seasons, there was a special minisode, From Raxacoricofallapatorius with Love.

Series three (12 episodes / 6 stories)
This season begins with a Judoon captain named Tybo pursuing an escaped alien prisoner named Androvax. Sarah Jane and the others get involved, both helping and hindering the pursuit. In the end, Androvax is captured, but Tybo issues an order restricting Clyde and Rani from ever traveling offworld. The next story takes place partly in 2059, where Rani is an old woman living alone in Sarah Jane's attic. A teenage boy named Adam visits her, and she tells him about an adventure she'd had in 2009, which resulted in K-9 finishing his own mission and returning to stay with Sarah Jane. However, it also resulted in Sarah Jane, Clyde, and Luke vanishing, which is why Rani spent the rest of her life alone, blaming herself for their disappearance. However, there is a happy ending in which the past was restored to what it should have been. The next story involves Sarah Jane falling in love with a man named Peter Dalton, and getting engaged. On her wedding day, the Doctor (David Tennant) shows up to stop the wedding, which turns out to have been a trap set for Sarah Jane by the Trickster. (This is set somewhere during the time of Doctor Who's 2009 specials, prior to "The End of Time." There's also a brief exchange of words between Sarah Jane and the Doctor at the end of the story that I found quite poignant, considering the way series 4 of Doctor Who had recently ended, though Sarah Jane herself couldn't have realized it.) Then there's a story about a haunted house. Then a story in which the Mona Lisa comes to life and causes trouble. The final story has Sarah Jane and the others chasing down some Slitheen to stop their latest plot, but are interrupted by a couple of Raxacoricofallapatorians from the family Blathereen, who claim to be law-abiding, unlike the Slitheen family (whose plot they stop). Sarah Jane and the others have them over for a nice dinner, and the aliens leave them with a plant that could supposedly end up eliminating world hunger... but of course it turns out to be a trick that threatens the entire world. Of course, the gang save the world in the end, as usual.

Series four (12 episodes / 6 stories)
Details coming sooner or later.

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