Being an almost absolute completest, my love of Dr Who brought to my attention a really great spin-off of the long running show. My geek OCD demanded my viewing of these adventures of the Doctor’s greatest companion, Sarah Jane.
Starting with the Third Doctor and continuing on with the Fourth, Sarah Jane became the companion we all loved immensely. When they brought her back to meet the Tenth Doctor in the new series, fans all over rejoiced.
That guest appearance caused the wheels of the BBC to start moving, and the people from Doctor Who began making this most fun and touching show.
The premise is that Sarah Jane is a journalist who helps defend the earth from various alien plots and plans. She is assisted by her powerful super intelligent alien computer Mr. Smith in saving the world. In the first episode, she adopts Luke, a genetically engineered teen boy created by malevolent aliens, who proves clueless about being human. Also in attendance is the teen neighbor, Maria, who only sticks around for the first season or so. The new teen neighbor, a girl named Rani, quickly replaces her. Rounding out the cast is school chum Clyde, who brings a dose of sarcastic humour to the show.
With this nucleus in place, we have two part episodes galore unleashed upon us. New villains and aliens and monsters are made, with some hit or miss results. Many established Who threats are also in attendance, sometimes tying into the original source materials very well. This connection causes a happy face when the Sontarans show up, but causes a sad face when the Slitheen crawl out. Never liked the Slitheen.
Besides the adventures, moral issues and conundrums are featured here prominently. For a show supposedly aimed at kids, it raises the bar by not treating them like twits. The Sarah Jane Adventures deals with death, friends moving away, absent parents, childhood traumas, and desires to better history. With narration by Elizabeth Sladen, who plays Sarah Jane impeccably, thoughts and lessons are imparted so well.
As the series progresses, the esteemed Doctor makes a couple of guest shots, bring a tremendous geek smile to my face. The fates of various former companions are also discussed, and in two cases shown, in another episode.
The unfortunate tragedy of this show is its untimely end. Sladen was battling cancer during the series, and passed away in the middle of a season. The sadness of this great loss, which is enormous, is made harder with the obvious notion that Sladen was loving every minute of her series. Now both are gone, and her final gift to us all lives on.
The regular Doctor Who series has not yet dealt with the Sarah Jane character on screen. When the Brigadier died in real life, they addressed this fact with a very touching moment from the Doctor. Fans are awaiting for what this anniversary season does to pay tribute to Sladen and Sarah Jane.
Having not seen the final episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures, I do not know how or if they address this terrible reality. My human and fanboy hope is that they gently pay honours to her, than fold the remnants of the show, namely the teens, Mr Smith, and so forth, somehow into Doctor Who proper. In my geek nirvana, it just seems only proper and fitting.
Sarah Jane deserves it.
…is currently reading The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier And Clay by Michael Chabon.
P.S. On Tuesday I gave my thoughts on the other Dr Who spinoff, K9.