Friday, August 28, 2009

My Review of The Sarah Jane Adventures 1x05: "Whatever Happened To Sarah Jane?"

Written by Gareth Roberts
Directed by Graeme Harper

Andrea: “Get out! Enough of this, I’m phoning your Dad, get out!”
Maria: “Just to let you know, I’m going to sort things out. I’m going to work out how time got changed. I’m going to find Sarah Jane and then I’m going to bring her back and nothing is going to stop me!”

What if episodes are ten a penny and practically every show has dished one of them out. A world without Sarah Jane is a very bad thing if this episode was anything to go by. It’s not just The Doctor being pulled out of existence that can have cataclysmic consequences.

Remove Sarah Jane and we got the same damn thing here. For the first few minutes of this story, there was a notable point being made about Sarah Jane’s presence in Maria’s life. Maria and Alan both noted that she was far softer with them now than when she first encountered them on Bannerman Road.

It’s a fair point to make and seeing as Maria is a junior companion, this was equally a big episode for her as well as Sarah Jane. Having the moment where Sarah Jane gave Maria the box because she was the person she trusted the most did speak volumes. It was Maria along with Luke that did help Sarah Jane let people in again.

It’s also because of the box being in Maria’s possession that the Trickster was able to change the entire world. Maria thought she’d solve the puzzle but instead woke up to an entire new world without Sarah Jane and or anyone knowing of the alien hunter’s existence.

Maria did a lot of cliché sounding like a madwoman when she was trying to convince her father and Clyde that Sarah Jane and Luke existed. Being confronted with Andrea Yates didn’t exactly help Maria either. Okay, so Andrea clearly wasn’t to be trusted but there was no way that anyone was going to believe Maria.

Clyde more or less dismissed her as a nutter and Alan thought that she was merely trying to seek attention. When Maria realised that she wasn’t getting through to him, she had no choice but to pretend that she had made Sarah Jane up. Too bad Maria hadn’t been quite as deceptive with Andrea.

Confronting Andrea about the past turned out to be a bad idea all together. While Andrea didn’t go after Maria, she did give the Trickster consent in having Maria removed from existence as well. So far, Andrea’s not exactly painting herself as saintly in this whole story.

As for the Sarah Jane/Andrea connection, emotionally it was satisfying. Gareth Roberts has a clear affection for Sarah Jane and that especially shows in this episode, even if Elisabeth Sladen is missing from segments of the story. Still when Sarah Jane’s not in a scene, she’s being largely discussed.

Maria’s determination to get her back is one thing. Andrea’s determination to forget about Sarah Jane was another. As kids, Andrea had originally died but thanks to the Trickster’s interference, Sarah Jane became the person to have died while Andrea got a chance to live life to the full.

It made sense when Alan discussed her parties and live life to the full attitude. The fact that it was also Andrea’s birthday as well added to the events. No-one wants to die but dying on your own birthday would be crueller than anything else. Because of Andrea’s second chance, she was determined to hold on even more.

Sacrificing Sarah Jane and Maria in order to do that was selfish and Alan when he came to his senses had every right to be appalled but Andrea’s actions were unfortunately also very understandable as well. However, Andrea’s desperation increased even further when she consented the Graske to go after Alan.

Finding out about aliens was inevitability for Alan but it was great that he was able to actually outsmart the Graske and get Maria back as well. It was also down to Maria that Sarah Jane came closer to being brought back.

The person responsible for Sarah Jane being taken out of time was the only person who could bring her back. Although Elisabeth Sladen is wonderful in this episode, I have to admit that Jane Asher is also brilliant as Andrea defends her reasons for wanting to be alive before sacrificing herself to stop the Trickster.

With a villain as interesting as the Trickster, Sarah Jane has finally encountered a deadly foe worthy for the series. The Trickster’s motives for interfering with Sarah Jane were interesting too. There was no guff about profit, this thing simply adored chaos in all it’s forms.

It very nearly got the Earth decimated by a meteor as a result of it’s meddling but the scenes it had with Sarah Jane were chilling. The Doctor can take care of himself but Sarah Jane was fearful for her former mentor when the Trickster threatened to pull him out of existence. I can very much imagine that it wouldn’t take a lot for the Trickster to actually achieve that.

I can also imagine (and this was even before seeing later seasons) that this isn’t the last we’ll see of the Trickster. He/She/It is way too good of a villain not to bring back that I’m actually surprised that they weren’t saved for the finale. I’d much rather them than Slitheen any day of the week.

As for the flashbacks to 1964, I think they are some of the best I’ve seen. The mood was captured beautifully and they cast two very good actresses to play younger versions of Sarah Jane and Andrea as well.

As for Chrissie, once again she appeared, not really doing much. There are times when you have to wonder what Alan actually saw in her in the first place. I know she was affected by the Trickster by not remembering Maria in the second half of the story but we’re towards the end of the first season and the writers still haven’t generated much sympathy for her.

Also in “Whatever Happened To Sarah Jane?”

I read that Joseph Millson who plays Alan is good with the skateboarding. He got to put it to good use in this story, when he used it to overpower the Graske.

Maria: “So, Clyde fights Slitheen and Gorgons and that’s okay with you, but a bit of skateboarding and woah.”
Sarah Jane: “I know, oh, shame on me! Well, I’ve changed since I met you lot. I’ve gone all Mumsy.”

Because of the Trickster’s interference, Luke was sent somewhere far worse than the limbo Sarah Jane and Maria were in.

Maria: “Do you know Sarah Jane?”
Clyde: “Look, if you wanna ask me out, just ask me out. I can fit you in Thursday.”

Maria (re Sarah Jane’s living room): “It’s different.”
Andrea: “Alright, it’s a bit of a mess but I’m gonna clean it before people come round. I can’t help it if I’m so popular.”

Andrea was seen to be an artist in this storyline, hence the mess of the place when Maria walked in. And Chrissie called Sarah Jane, “Bobby Sue”.

Chrissie: “Oh Alan, stop messing about. I know you wanted kids but I never did. As if I’ve got a maternal bone in my body.”

Sarah Jane (re Andrea): “What sort of a woman is she?”
Maria: “Bit full on, likes a party.”
Sarah Jane: “Yeah, that sounds like her.”

Andrea clung to all of the old music in this episode, like there was a part of her that wouldn’t let her forget 1964, despite her other efforts to.

The Trickster: “I will return when the Earth is no more and I will explore your potential further, in particular, your memories of this ‘Doctor’.”
Sarah Jane: “You leave him alone!”

Andrea (to Alan): “Do you know what it’s like, knowing you’re going to die? To feel the end of everything closing in on you? Why am I even asking? I’m the only person who could possibly know.”

Sarah Jane talked about Graske activity a few years ago. Does that further make “Attack Of The Graske” canon?

Andrea: “Well, I say no. If there’s one thing I can do with my life, I ca put a stop to you for good. I’ve changed my mind. I’m taking the deal back!”
The Trickster: “Then you will die.”
Andrea: “I’ve been dead for 40 years. Been a good life. It’s my birthday. Goodbye, Sarah Jane. I’m going now. And you’re free!”

Alan (to Sarah Jane/Luke/Maria/Clyde): “Right. Aliens, monsters, supercomputers, is anybody going to tell me what’s going? Hmm. Come on, I need some answers. Who’s going first?”

Chronology: Sometime late in either 2007 or 2008. Andrea died originally back in 1964. I wondered if she was related to Mike Yates but the writer probably would’ve addressed that.

Stunning episode. “Whatever Happened To Sarah Jane” is by far the best story of the series. Darker compared to the others but equally as delightful and the insights into the way both Sarah Jane and Andrea were certainly helped. It’ll be interesting to see how the Trickster strikes back after this one.

Rating: 10 out of 10.

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