Saturday, October 31, 2009

My Review of The Sarah Jane Adventures 3x03: "The Wedding Of Sarah Jane Smith"

Written by Gareth Roberts
Directed by Joss Agnew

Sarah Jane: “You came all this way for me?”
The Doctor: “You’re so important, not just to me. The Trickster wanted the end of your story but it goes on. Things you’ve done, Sarah, they’re pretty impressive. Oh, the thing you’re going to do.”

As appearances, The Doctor’s on this show has been a long time coming. Ever since “Invasion Of The Bane”, Sarah Jane’s talked of her former mentor so much that actually having him in the show was the natural next step. Except that you have to wait halfway through the story for him to actually appear.

In a way, it’s a smart tactic. You need those twenty five minutes or so to establish many events before The Doctor can make his entrance (and it’s definitely an entrance). Namely, a certain Miss Smith all of a sudden having a love life for beginners.

Unlike Clyde, I do not object to people over 22 kissing in public but Sarah Jane suddenly getting a nice posh bloke in Peter was always going to be suspicious. Her attempts of concealing the relationship from the kids had them using Mr Smith to spy on her. Even Sarah Jane later pointed out that she’s made them unable to trust anyone.

However after getting uppity for a few seconds on the gang spying on her, she was positively happy to dispense with the details. Even Luke got to poke some good natured fun at his mum for having a love life when he was grappling with the idea of relationships to put it mildly. Something tells me that Luke will end up getting a love interest if this show makes it into a fourth season. Judging by the ratings and affection for the series, I’d be shocked if it didn’t.

In terms of casting, Nigel Havers (last seen in Brothers And Sisters and Lunch Monkeys) is a good fit for the role of Peter. He’s got a convincing debonair about him that could explain why Sarah Jane found herself compelled to seek him out and his like of Luke seems very genuine. Of course, Clyde would have to be unconvinced.

One of the kids needed to be genuinely sceptical and maybe it made sense for Clyde to be that kid. He got Rani to come with him to break into Peter’s place but after from an overflow of letters in an empty gaff, Clyde didn’t actually have much to go on. Even Luke told him not to ruin the big day.

Yes, what totally made Peter suspect was his instant proposal to Sarah Jane, her ready acceptance and a ring that had the woman under his control. It doesn’t exactly sound like the most ideal start to a marriage. Also it didn’t take long for both Haresh and Gita to suspect something not right with Sarah Jane marrying in haste.

That being said, no wedding is complete without someone there to ruin the big day in TV land. Sarah Jane got twice the trouble with The Doctor bursting into the hotel demanding the wedding to stop and the Trickster also popping up quick enough to separate the last Time Lord from his greatest companion on her big day.

So, after much hyping aside, is The Doctor any good in this story? Yes, actually he is. For the most part, he’s seperated from Sarah Jane so that meant him having to bond with Luke, Clyde, Rani and K9 in his frantic bid to get everything back to normal and there are some wonderful moments with them all. I have to hand it to the Trickster, he can certainly does live up to his name.

Here he trapped Sarah Jane and Peter in one second and The Doctor and the gang in another. Both sides were determined to best the Trickster and the Trickster was determined to get a final victory, something which he happily goaded The Doctor about as well.

In the past stories with Sarah Jane, the Trickster used Andrea and her parents to get his own way. Peter is a lot like Andrea. At the brink and forced into an agreement but overall, he’s not a malicious man. He wanted to live and fall in love with the right woman. The Trickster more or less gave him that chance. The only problem lied with Sarah Jane.

She’s had enough experiences with the Trickster to do a better job at resisting temptation. She might love Peter as much as she claimed to but it’s obvious that she’s not going to let the Trickster win. It seems that if Sarah Jane agreed to marry Peter, she’d live a normal life and the Trickster would be able to go about creating chaos more successfully.

As schemes go, it’s pretty satisfying. I don’t know if the Trickster actually hates Sarah Jane. I almost get the impression that he doesn’t. Sarah Jane obviously poses a great threat to him given the number of stunts he’s pulled to get her out of the picture. He even chastised The Doctor for not realising hoe special she was.

Of course the silly thing about the Trickster was his reckless underestimation of Clyde Langer. Naturally, Clyde would have to have been the one to soak up some artron energy and he certainly didn’t have any problem in using the stuff on the Trickster. For a second, it did look like Clyde’s days were surely numbered. Not today though.

Still while it was Clyde who was able to injure the Trickster, it was up to Peter to defeat him. Although we had already seen this in “Whatever Happened To Sarah Jane?”, I did feel bad for Peter and for Sarah Jane. Both Elisabeth Sladen and Nigel Havers knocked out of the ball park when Peter sacrificed himself to stop the Trickster.

The pain didn’t end there. Sarah Jane still had to stand in front of everyone when time was restored and call of the wedding. That only added to the sadness factor of the story. At least The Doctor had the sense to come back to see her attic in Bannerman Road.

As a story between The Doctor and Sarah Jane, arguably we should’ve seen more scenes of them together but the end bit made up for it. The Doctor’s current incarnation is on borrowed time and he knows it. The Trickster himself so much as said when referencing the gate. The Doctor even asked Sarah Jane not to forget him. A line that may come back to haunt him in the next two months.

But the scene with Sarah Jane and the gang in the TARDIS however was a delight. From a sentimental standpoint, it’s hard not to love those little moments with everyone soaking up the majesty of The Doctor’s TARDIS. As for him and Sarah Jane seeing each other again, I bloody well hope so.

Also in “The Wedding Of Sarah Jane Smith”

Because of David Tennant’s appearance in this story, the ads on BBC1 were certainly more prominent.

Mr Smith: “I am able to complete that function, Clyde. There’s no need to consult the dog.”
K9: “Sticks and stones.”

Can I just say that The Odd Couple banter with Mr Smith and K9 is wonderful? Both are given great lines by Roberts here.

Sarah Jane (re Luke/Clyde/Rani): “I should be angry. Why am I not angry?”
K9: “Mistress I detect you are experiencing a heightened emotional state. Alpha waves high, heartbeat fast, increased Serotonin.”
Sarah Jane: “K9, always the romantic.”
K9: “Affirmative.”

Clyde (to Rani, re Peter’s house): “Look at this place, I knew it. Lair of the Living Dead.”

There was an amusing subplot in the first half of the story with Clyde and Rani having to send a Travist Prolong (from “The Mark Of The Berserker”) alien back home. Peter admiring K9 was funny as well.

Gita (to Peter): “It can’t be worse than our honeymoon. Total disaster.”
Haresh: “Um, I enjoyed it.”
Gita: “Brussels. There’s nothing there.”

The Doctor: “Trickster, let her go.”
Trickster: “Too late, Time Lord. You’re mine, Sarah Jane Smith. Mine forever.”

Funnily enough, there’s a novelisation of this story out at the start of November. I’m tempted to buy it.

Clyde: “I hope you’re as good as Sarah Jane says you are.”
The Doctor: “Well, you know journalists, always exaggerating but yeah, I’m pretty amazing on a good day.”

Sarah Jane: “The one time I fall in love, the one time everything goes right and it’s a trap. I thought I loved you but you aren’t even real.”
Peter: “You do love me. I’m here, flesh and blood.”

The Trickster is a member of the Pantheon Of Discord but was defensive when The Doctor noted that it was alone. Also, what exactly is The Gate?

Trickster: “At last, Doctor. I can feel this moment reverberating back through the ages. The meeting of the Pantheon Of Discord and the last of the Time Lords.”
The Doctor: “I’ve known the legends of the Pantheon since I was a little boy. I fought your shadows and your changelings. I never thought we’d meet.”

Sarah Jane (to Peter): “I love you but I can’t love you. You said you’d do anything to save me. You know what you have to do.”

Interestingly enough, they didn’t put David Tennant’s name in the opening credits with Elisabeth Sladen. There were also mentions of Maria (exams), Alan (tied up at work) and the Brigadier (in Peru) in relation to their absences.

Sarah Jane: “Is this the last time I’m ever going to see you?”
The Doctor: “I don’t know. I hope not.”
Sarah Jane: “Bye Doctor. Until next time.”
The Doctor: “Don’t forget me, Sarah Jane.”
Sarah Jane: “No-one’s ever going to forget you.”

Parts of that harkens back to “The Hand Of Fear” as well as the Storybook 2010 as well. Unsurprisingly we got hints of what to expect in the last three specials of Doctor Who this year.

“The Wedding Of Sarah Jane Smith” was always going to be an accomplishment. The show’s writing has increased in quality, the performances were wonderful, nostalgia references were finely timed (Metabelis 3 anyone?) as well as a foreboding sense of something else. By far one of the best stories from the series and a guaranteed fan favourite for many years to come.

Rating: 10 out of 10.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Review of The Sarah Jane Adventures 3x02: "The Mad Woman In The Attic"

Written by Joseph Lidster
Directed by Alice Troughton

Rani (to Adam): “Sarah Jane Smith was mysterious and moody and oh, you did not want to get on the wrong side of her but I thought she was wonderful. She saved the world so many times. She changed my life. I never told her how grateful I was.”

This really takes the biscuit when it comes to the trusted, “be careful what you wish for” scenario. Rani’s clearly not paid enough attention to the consequences of a casual slip up in words becoming an irrevocable future. Here was a good lesson for her with this wonderful story.

Last season, one of the strengths of Rani’s introduction was the simple fact that the gang (Sarah Jane especially) didn’t draw too many comparison between her and Maria. That kind of thing annoyed a great deal of viewers on Doctor Who with Rose and Martha. Here though, it’s raised up and it sort of sucks.

It’s nice that because they’re a continent apart, the gang haven’t lost touch with Maria and it’s also nice that Maria is continuing her alien investigations as well. Less nice was the gang somewhat dismissing Rani as she was trying to ignite an investigation. I can see why Rani wouldn’t have been particularly pleased with them.

Of course as viewers, we do know that Sarah Jane, Luke and Clyde do care about Rani so while they were being slightly thoughtless, it’s not like they were intentionally trying to make Rani feel like an outsider. Sarah Jane even admitted to feeling bad about dismissing Rani a few moments after the girl had left.

However while Rani’s first source for a potential alien threat turned out to be false, at least her second one was reliable. It’s nice that this story actually touched base a little on Rani’s life prior to Bannerman Road. Naturally there was the assumption she had a few close friends from Danemouth. Her we got to meet one of them.

Sam in some ways had a lot more reason to feel isolated than Rani could imagine. Her gushing about alien life and the gang was obviously enough to motivate him to seek her out but it was also the thing that had him stay out of touch with her for quite a while. If he’s jealous, there’s reason behind it. The guy doesn’t exactly have the best of back stories.

Losing your parents at a young age and spending most of your time in care is not something I can relate to but it’s certainly something viewers can empathies with. Sarah Jane tried her best to be as sympathetic with Sam as she could. Even Luke had a go at it for all the limited success he got.

Sam’s frustration and anger led Rani to Pleasure Park and it also unsurprisingly enough led her into a trap of sorts. Harry the caretaker might have been more mild mannered than sinister from the off but he definitely knew why the homeless kids were engaging in the amusement rides whenever the words, “playtime” surfaced.

As for Rani, there was a whole matter of dangers she could’ve faced. Harry tried to get her to leave but Rani’s curiosity got the better. It was great to see Rani trying to be Sarah Jane by sounding blasé about aliens and wanting to help but the arrival of Eve was certainly unexpected.

As a living fire red alien, the time sensitive Eve certainly looked the part. The surprising element was seeing her and Rani bonding. Eve clearly tried to state that she wasn’t a malevolent presence and while Rani was trying to get her to stop controlling the homeless kids, a friendship of sorts was struck with these two girls.

Anjli Mohindra must have loved this story. It’s unashamedly the Rani Show (not that one!) and even if you detest the character or don’t connect with her like Maria, there was some absolutely superb writing in this one. Rani felt insecure about her family, exams, her role in Sarah Jane and the gang’s lives. Eve tried to reassure her that she was loved by everyone. The only time Eve stepped out of line was when she tried to control Rani.

Rani basically tried to do a good deed by freeing Eve, except it nearly backfired on her. Not only did Eve try to control Rani when the threat of losing her first genuine friend became present but Eve’s attempts of trying to control everything almost killed her. If it hadn’t been for that telepathic ship and Sarah Jane, Eve wouldn’t have made it out of the story alive.

Getting Eve back to her ship was moments covered in sweetness. She returned to her health and wanted to travel the stars and after some persuading both Sam and Harry also did. If you were expecting an actual villain in this story, you’re out of luck. Eve, Ship, Harry and Sam were occasionally misguided but none were outright evil.

Of course the highlights in this episode just flow wonderfully all over the place. Mr Smith and K9 (the latter is now staying) teamed up to use a black hole to fuse Eve’s ship and seeing them two slightly bicker was fun as was the bits of futures and pasts of Luke, Sarah Jane and Rani that we got to see. So, The Doctor’s coming back, then? Is there anyone who didn’t already know this?

As for Rani, her brief moment of not wanting Sarah Jane around her meant a depressing future as a mad woman in Sarah Jane’s attic. I didn’t believe that embittered older Rani was ever going to pose a physical threat to enquiring Adam but I was definitely relieved when Adam revealed him to be Eve’s son and offered Rani the chance to change her future. If the performance hadn’t been so moving, I would’ve dubbed it cheesy.

After the Rani we then see in the future is the one you want to see. While Torchwood has shown the more devastating effects of being an alien investigator, this show has always gone for the more positive. Plus it would’ve massively cruel to learn that a careless slip of words would’ve been the undoing of Sarah Jane, Luke and Clyde, though stranger things have ended much loved characters.

Also in “The Mad Woman In The Attic”

Clyde’s introduction dialogue about the team is now factoring in both parts of the story. I guess this will be it for the season.

Adam: “It’s okay, I’m not going to hurt you.”
Rani: “No, no, you just wanted to see if the stories were true. You wanted to meet the mad old woman of Bannerman Road. Oh, come closer then. Take a look.”

Because so many people mentioned it online, it is rather strange that neither of Rani’s parents are actually in this story.

Clyde: “Oh no, I seem to have left a really important book at Rani’s house. You’re not gonna ask what book?”
Luke: “There isn’t one. It’s a trick to see if there’s a clue over there.”
Clyde: “Lukey boy, you’re learning.”

Rani: “I’m the mad old woman of Bannerman Road. I could eat children for all you know.”
Adam: “Mr Smith, I think I need you.”
Rani: “He stopped working years ago. He died.”

We’ve now had an Adam in all three series. Adam in Doctor Who (“Dalek”/“The Long Game”), Adam in Torchwood (“Adam”) and obviously Adam in this one.

Sarah Jane: “I knew I should’ve brought Luke. He moans less than you.”
Clyde: “I run faster.”

Eve (to Rani): “There were two races and they had a war. My people weren’t involved but because we could read the timelines, they attacked us. So many of us were exterminated. My parents put me into a ship and sent me out into space.”

I loved that mention of the Time War, though the older Rani had earlier mentioned the Daleks and Cybermen to Adam.

Rani: “What are you doing?”
Eve: “I told you. I’m sensitive to time. I can see your past. Sometimes you feel left out.”

Ship (to Sarah Jane, re The Doctor): “He is returning. He is coming back.”

Sarah Jane’s flashbacks were from “The Time Warrior”, “Planet Of The Spiders”, “The Hand Of Fear”, “The Five Doctors” and “The Stolen Earth”/ “Journey’s End”.

Sam: “Rani said you were clever.”
Luke: “She said a few things about you as well.”

Sarah Jane: “You aren’t scared, are you?”
Clyde: “Me Clyde, me don’t get scared.”
Sarah Jane: “After everything we’ve seen?”
Clyde: “Me get scared sometimes.”

I loved Sarah Jane and Clyde’s banter in this episode. It’s good that he said that him, Maria and Rani chose to be in her life. Did anyone else notice the sign about what the doctor ordered in Harry’s office?

Rani (to Sarah Jane): “But no-one can know the future. We can change it. It’s up to us what we do, isn’t it?”

Sarah Jane (re Rani): “What have you done to her?”
Eve: “She was scared of the future. Scared of growing old. Now she’ll be young and happy forever.”

Brian Miller who played Harry in this story is actually Elisabeth Sladen’s real life husband.

Mr Smith: “It’s good to see you. Will you be staying here now?”
K9: “Affirmative.”
Mr Smith: “Oh good.”

Sarah Jane: “I’m sorry.”
Rani: “What for?”
Sarah Jane: “Maybe you were right to tell Sam. I spent so many years alone, I still find it difficult to trust people, but you know, they’re not all out to get us and sometimes I forget that. Sometimes visitors to this world just need a friend.”

Even though he isn’t actually credited, shouldn’t those brief moments onscreen actually count as David Tennant’s first appearance? After all, it was footage that we’d never seen before.

Two stories in and this season is on a roll. Joseph Lidster can bring the darkness, sheer unexpected and tenderness and “The Mad Woman In The Attic” is just proof that you can raise the stakes and have an alien presence without it being villainous. It made for a change and one of the best stories from the series.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

My Review of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's 8x29: "Retreat Part 4"

Written by Jane Espenson
Artwork by Georges Jeanty

Bayaarma: “You don’t need me. If you have any anger in you, use it. See if you can call them.”
Buffy: “Oh, I have some anger.”

I’ve got to apologise for the delay in this review. Computer problems mainly factored into things but also, I can’t help but feel a little underwhelmed with this issue as well. It’s not that it’s an awful one, it’s just that very little feels like its happening. I can’t be the only one who felt that when reading this, yes?

Picking up from where mostly the previous one left off, we had the gang discussing what they were planning to do next. Being powerless meant relying primarily on military weaponry. The opening two pages set up a doom and gloom lecture not unlike anything we’ve seen or heard on the series itself. Lives are going to be lost. I don’t think there’s anyone reading this that doesn’t get that already.

Buffy, Giles, Faith, Andrew and Satsu more or less told the girls to fight with every readily available weapon they had. Willow interrupted the lectures by lamenting on their chances being slim. Yeah, way to boost morale there, Willow.

Although to be fair to Willow, it’s not like she isn’t vocalising the various thoughts that are running through the rest of the gang’s heads. The consequences of redirecting all of that ancient magicks was going to make the gang at their most vulnerable. Even Buffy seems to be realising that it might not have been such a bright idea upon reflection.

Of course Willow’s blow up didn’t sit that well with either Oz or Bayaarma. Both of them had a reasonably quiet little community. Buffy and the gang seeking sanctuary has thrown that one out of the window. However it’s not too surprising that some of Willow’s anger is directed at herself as well as the current predicament her and the Scoobies are in.

There was also some continual angst over what Buffy disclosed to her as well. Willow really seems to be fixated with having normality now more than ever. I guess it does make sense to a good degree.

At least Xander and Dawn are trying to stay more positive. Although I’m not doing cartwheels over them as an item, I just don’t seem as bothered by the idea of it than I think I should be. Trying to explain weapons to the other former slayers, they were certainly more open with their body language. The other people who don’t know they’re a couple at this point are probably the ones who want to deny all knowledge.

One person unsurprisingly bothered by the relationship is Buffy. There’s a moment in the issue where she’s distant with Xander and when Andrew attempted to get her to open up, she shut him down. I can understand why Buffy feels that way. I think I’d find it weird if one of my friends was dating a sister of mine. Still Buffy will have to adjust to it in time even if she doesn’t want to.

As for Andrew, when he isn’t trying to play camp counsellor, he’s put to somewhat better use in trying to fool Twilight and company that the slayers are still packing the magicks in a big way. Wouldn’t just have sticking with the real thing been the better choice all along? I won’t be surprised if by the end of this arc that all the gang’s magic is restored. Logically there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be.

Twilight’s already causing carnage with the army he sent out and while the use of a torpedo gave the Scoobies an advantage, Buffy still wanted the redirected power. Summoning up those three goddesses at the end of the issue is not going to end. You don’t need to be a genius to see that.

Also in “Retreat Part 4”

This cover was drawn by Massimo Carnevale and featured Twilight, which would’ve been nice if Twilight had actually featured in the issue.

Buffy: “We have to be ready to fight with every weapon, everything we can throw at them.”
Willow: “But it seems to me ... that we don’t have the one thing that matters. A chance in hell.”

Isn’t it slightly odd that in the past four issues that both Kennedy and Oz have had not at least one interaction? You’d think that they would’ve by now.

Willow (to Oz/Bayaarma/Buffy, re Kelden): “No! Don’t protect the baby! I’m not mad at you! I’m mad at me. I’m so angry at me; I cannot believe these aren’t black.”

Xander: “These are called manpads. No giggling, please. It means man-portable air defence system.”
Dawn: “It’s a single person surface to air missile launcher. It’s very heavy and if you’re not super-strong anymore, so either leave this for the huskier girls or team up.”

Apart from a few soldiers, not only was Twilight absent but there was also no signs of Amy, Warren or Riley either.

Xander (re Buffy): “She’s good.”
Dawn: “Even when weak.”

Monroe: “My wolves can help.”
Faith: “Sounds good. Knock your furry selves out.”
Oz: “You’ve decided to come to our side, Monroe?”
Monroe: “You’re fighting on the side of the ones who keep magicks. So I do believe ... that you’ve come to my side.”

It’ll be interesting to see how Monroe’s aid of the Scoobies pans out in the next issue. Hopefully he won’t emerge as another threat for the gang to deal with. The goddesses’ names in this issue were Remati, Vajrayogini and Ekajati.

Giles: “We can’t take on an army. Not like this.”
Buffy: “We need the magic. But we got rid of it.”
Willow: “Not ‘Got rid of’ ... Bay said it wasn’t that. She said ...”
Buffy: “Redirected. I need to talk to Oz and Bay.”

There was a wonderful letter from Danny Hirschhorn blasting some of the more homophobic letters that have plagued the letter page in light of Buffy/Satsu. Reread “Safe” to get where he’s coming from.

Bayaarma (re goddesses): “The prayers offer a trade. We give them our powers, they protect us.”
Buffy: “Okay, I want to cash in that trade. How do I get their protection?”

The next issue and the final segment of this arc comes out on November 4th.

Despite one or two interesting moments, I have to say that “Retreat Part 4” is the weakest of the bunch. It feels too much like treading water and even with another attack, I don’t feel we’re getting anywhere this issue. It could’ve used some actual Twilight in it as well.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

My Review of "Dead As A Doornail"

Written by Charlaine Harris
Released in 2005

Sookie (to herself): “You ever just feel like stomping around and being miserable for a while? That was the kind of mood I was in.”

As these books continue, I seem to notice quite a lot of things. Namely that Sookie’s love interests seem to be on the increase. Here you’ve got Bill, Eric, Alcide, Calvin, Sam and now Quinn into the mix. At this point she might have to beat them all off with a stick.

Bill’s doing his level best to make Sookie jealous with a new girlfriend named Selah. For the most part, while Sookie can’t seem to stand her, she isn’t all that bothered by her. It also might have done her self esteem wonders when Bill tried to get Sam out of the way. Yes, this one both Sookie and Sam share a brief kiss. As you do.

Sam had something of a bigger role in this book when an assassin was going around shooting shifters and weres. A good part of the book teased the notion that Jason might have been responsible, even though as a reader you don’t ever think that he could be capable of such. After all, he seems to love being a were-panther quite a lot. That bit surprised me given Jason’s past issues with the supernatural.

The assassin bit of the book takes up a lot and seemed resolved when recent Merlotte’s cook, Sweetie admitted to the crime. What it is with cooks at Merlotte’s? They don’t exactly seem to last that long do they? The loose end with the seemingly nice Charles being responsible for Sam’s death felt a little too tacked on. I knew it was too good to be true.

When we’re not dealing with assassins, Sookie and Alcide seem to devolve before our eyes. I thought Alcide confronting Sookie on killing Debbie Pelt would’ve been the thing that tore them apart but it was Sookie’s discomfort of Alcide dragging her into were politics that really did it for them.

Was it Sookie’s fault that Jackson died in the fight against Patrick? Nope! She alerted Quinn about Patrick’s cheating so to be fair, the pack themselves condemned Jackson by not calling off the fight so to speak. Of course Alcide didn’t take it that way. Still while Sookie might have fallen out with Alcide, she did seem to connect a little with Quinn.

As for Eric, of course he was going to try and get to the bottom of his lost days. Sookie should’ve known better and in the end, it was wise that she told more or less what happened during the Witch wars. Now it’ll be interesting to see where the pair of them go from here.

However taking all of Sookie’s love woes but keeping the supernatural elements intact, two incredibly strong plots in this story was Sookie’s friendship with Claudine and Claude. Fairy jokes aside, these are two characters that I certainly enjoyed in this book and luckily, it seems that we’re getting more of them in later ones.

As for Sookie trying to protect Tara from abusive vampire Mickey, well this was this first time it actually felt like they were friends. We’ve had plenty of chatter about them being pals but Sookie going above and beyond to try and save her friend proved the friendship between them. This is probably the most vocalised book for Tara so far in the series.

- The end of this book set up the plot for the next one, “Definitely Dead”. We’re going to meet the Queen of Louisiana.
- Not that it will shock anyone with Sookie’s poor taste in puns but Claude is gay. Sookie certainly seemed to appreciate his physical attributes.
- In this book, Sookie had her house set alight by Charles, was invested by private detectives looking for Debbie Pelt and was shot by Sweetie as well.
- Andy seemed to be aware that a certain dog was human. If he had looked harder, he might have guessed it was Sam.

These books seem to improve as they go on and “Dead As A Doornail” certainly worked for me. It gave us more stuff on Jason, Sam and especially Tara and hopefully future books will maintain that.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Review of Dollhouse's 2x02: "Instinct"

Written by Michelle Fazekas And Tara Butters
Directed by Marita Gabriak

Topher (to Paul/Adelle, re Echo): “Perhaps triggering lactation was a bridge too far. Live and learn.”

Oh, you don’t think? When you have to watch your main character breastfeed a baby that doesn’t belong to her, regardless of imprint, it’s a little hard not to be disturbed by it. It seems there are many things that Topher will happily do to advance his Dollhouse studies.

Taking another unusual route this week, Echo became the mother of a bouncing baby boy that she didn’t have to carry for nine months. The scheme unusual even for this show’s standards and Dushku’s acting must be improving because she was pretty convincing with this one.

As put upon Emily, Echo believed that she had a wonderful son that she bonded to easily and a husband who was somewhat cold and distant with her and the baby. We even got the soap opera aspect with Echo confiding in her best friend Kelly (the role taken on by Sierra), who gave her some pretty obvious advice.

Instead Echo did some snooping around on her own and became easily convinced that Nate was having an affair. When he admitted that the woman in the photographs was a former lover whose death he couldn’t really come to terms with, the jig was up.

The sad part was that Echo then became convinced that Nate wanted rid of her and the baby when she overheard him trying to call off the engagement. It got even worse for her when she realized that Paul was coming to get, so legging it out the window became her only option.

The police station scenes were some of the strongest. The female detective sympathized with Echo because she thought she was an abuse victim until Nate managed to get his son back and then have Echo dragged back to the Dollhouse. I have to hand it to Eliza Dushku for some great moments there. Her acting in this episode is arguably some of her strongest in my opinion.

The even more interesting part of this was her maternal instinct becoming more dominant when Topher tried to wipe her. Going by the choice quote I’ve used for the opening segment of the review, triggering lactation was a bridge to far. Next time, think your little upgrades out, Topher.

Echo escaping from the Dollhouse so easily seemed a little trite to me. This wasn’t “Needs” so I don’t see how she could’ve left the building. Are security staff really that lax in a place like the Dollhouse? Well, I do have to remember Alpha I suppose. He certainly had no problems getting out and back in that place.

As for Echo’s confrontation with Nate, parts of it felt like The Hand That Rocked The Cradle while other bits were surprisingly poignant. Nate finally came to embrace the child he couldn’t bear to look and Echo became disheartened when she had to deal with Jack not being her child.

The end scene with Paul and Echo discussing the latter’s distress at remembering everything was sad. That being said, I do have to admit that Echo choosing to be awake compared to the other Actives is an interesting idea, especially when you consider another returnee here.

It was nice that we weren’t going to have to wait long for Mellie/Madeline to return. Miracle Laurie was always going to be a welcomed appearance and thanks to some of the recent ads, it looks like there’s going to be some good storylines for her this season. Adelle was certainly keen on Madeline getting her diagnostic.

So from the diagnostic point of view, we can assume that Madeline is physically fine and unlikely to glitch anytime soon. However from the conversations that Madeline had with both Paul and Adelle, it seems pretty obvious that she poses a threat to the Dollhouse. Adelle didn’t exactly suppress the possibility.

Paul on the other hand seemed to be a mixed bag with Madeline. He went from being surprised that she was at the Dollhouse to sympathetic about her daughter’s death and curious about Madeline’s seeming happiness of not remembering much of her time. The exact opposite of Echo in those respects.

However if Madeline poses a threat, then I think it will be down to Daniel Perrin that she does so. Unlike Paul, it will prove a lot harder for the likes of Adelle to get a senator to back off, especially one that has little problems in drawing up clues as quickly as he does. Needless to say, I’m hoping for Perrin to win this one out.

He’s got the moral outrage, a supportive wife in Cindy and so far, an integrity to want to expose the Dollhouse that Paul seemed to lack in the first season. Also like Paul, he seems to have a face to attach to the Dollhouse as well. I think it’s obvious who the face will end up being.

Also in “Instinct”

This aired along with “Vows” for UK viewers on Sci-Fi UK. Sorry for the delays in reviewing the episode. I’m catching up as we speak.

Paul: “Yeah, I don’t understand.”
Topher: “Yeah but it’s so cute that you’re trying.”

Paul certainly looked at the chair with morbid curiosity at the start of the episode. Topher also seems to enjoy talking down to him.

Echo (re Nate): “It’s more than that. I hand him the baby and he acts like I’ve handed him a live grenade.”
Sierra: “Men are wusses.”

Adelle: “For your own wellbeing, come in and have your diagnostic. I won’t take no for an answer.”
Madeline: “No, I don’t imagine you will.”

Claire only left in the previous episode and they’ve already drafted in some new physician for the place. I’m surprised Adelle actually hasn’t sent out for her.

Nate (re Echo/Jack): “Just find them.”
Adelle: “We know already where Echo and the baby are and we are retrieving them as we speak.”

Topher: “We should put you in the recruiting DVD.”
Madeline: “Thank you very much. How do I get out of here?”

Madeline’s words were, “cucumber”, “boat” and “wire”. She sensibly also refused Topher’s offer of upgrades.

Topher (re Echo): “Did you offer her any treatment?”
Paul: “Gee, that’s a great idea, Topher.”

Paul: “So, what, you’re happy now?”
Madeline: “I’m not sad. It was nice meeting you.”

How early was Madeline released from her contract? From the way Adelle sounded, I got the impression that Madeline had barely served half of it.

Echo: “Babies need their mothers.”
Nate: “I know but you’re not his mother.”

Adelle made some perceptive comments about children needing love from an early onset. Nate clearly took that into account when dealing with Echo as well.

Echo: “All of these things happened to me, I feel them.”
Paul: “I know, Echo. I know you remember.”
Echo: “Not remember, feel.”

There was no Victor or Boyd in this episode and I’m not certain of the distance between this episode and “Vows”.

“Instinct” is a decent episode, nice plot, some good acting from Dushku but it’s hard to stay involved when you know that FOX are going to do away with the series pretty soon and that does suck.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

My Review of Dollhouse's 2x01: "Vows"

Written And Directed by Joss Whedon

Echo (to Paul): “I remember everything. Sometimes I’m someone else and then I come back but I feel them, all of them.”

Blimey, this show might not be longer for the world but it’s reassuring that Sci-Fi didn’t waste time in deciding to air the second season. Their treatment of the series is easily better than Fox’s when you think about it.

Season One had some great episodes, especially towards the second half of the season but it was marred with many problems. One of the biggest was Paul’s obsession with Echo. It lacked emotional content and was clearly superficial. If this premiere episode is anything to go by, a degree of substance was thankfully injected into his fixation with her.

He did the slightly uncouth thing in becoming a client. I know being inside the belly of the beast means you’re more than susceptible of being infected by it but even I thought that Paul would show a little more restraint. Luckily for us, Paul didn’t hire Echo out as personal slave for himself.

Instead he used her talents in a desperate bid to snare Martin Clar. Played by Jamie Bamber, Clar was our opening villain and in the hands of a lesser actor, he’d be a one note adversary. Not that the characterisation for him is particularly extraordinary but Bamber does do a good job with him.

Having Echo actually marry Clar was certainly a new one in terms of what we’ve seen clients try and get away with an Active. Paul certainly had a hard time witnessing Echo and Clar consummate their marriage from afar as well. Sometimes, it’s nice not to have the audio.

A part of the episode did confuse me when Paul and Echo were talking about being partners for so many years. Paul even tried to contain his latent jealousy with Echo. Not that he was really that convincing though.

The unfortunate part of Paul’s general little plan was the lack of foresight. In all of these double agent scenarios, there was going to be someone who would figure out that Echo was more than a blushing bride. Needless to say, Clar actually found out halfway through the episode thanks to a nameless lackey.

The original part was that Echo nearly convinced him that she was nothing more than a dutiful wife. Of course the jig was up when she started glitching at the most inappropriate of times. Glitching that Paul also took some hearty advantage of as well.

Getting Echo back into the fight mode she was in during their face off in “Man On The Street” was definitely one of Paul’s stronger ideas. Much as Paul annoys me, this episode nearly went over the top in people slating his abilities. Both Adelle and Martin had some zingers at his expense in a good few moments.

However because of Paul’s bright idea, Echo was able to go into fighting mode and do away with all of Martin’s cronies. Hell, even her apprehension of Martin (after blowing up his car) was something that wouldn’t have looked out of place on an episode of Alias.

Of course the meat of the Echo/Paul dynamic in this one was Paul making the transfer from unwilling helper to handler. There was no way he wasn’t going to cave in the end, thanks to what we’ve seen in “Epitaph One” and the scenes between him and Echo when she talked of her emotions had the emotional punch that lacked between them last season.

However it wasn’t just Echo getting all the meaty storylines this season. The cat and mouse antics with Paul and Adelle are a joy to watch. Paul might have noble intentions to take down the Dollhouse but Adelle has more than stressed that he’s out of his league. Perhaps Senator Daniel Perrin can succeed where Paul has failed.

Another cast member from the Whedonverse, Alexis Denisof is a nice choice for Perrin. I actually do hope that the nobility we see with Perrin is something that is maintained throughout the season. I know he poses a threat to the Dollhouse but come on, only a serious nutter would want him to fail. Hopefully he’s also less annoying than Paul was during most of the first season.

Speaking of annoying, I might have felt sorry for Topher in the unaired episode but I got something of a kick in Claire screwing with him in this one. Does that mean there’s something wrong with me? The question’s rhetorical.

Amy Acker is such a great actress that it’s such a shame that she has to go to Happy Town instead of staying here. Claire’s breakdown is Whedon writing at its strongest and most insightful. All that anger, self-loathing and confusion certainly made for some powerful and potentially dangerous moments.

Topher deservedly bore most of the brunt of Claire’s anger. Old footage, rats and a creepy sexual pass were certainly Claire’s means of getting her own back on the man who created. Claire talked about not being human and wanting to die. Personally I’m glad that she’s alive, even if she had made the right decision in legging it from the Dollhouse.

Boyd earned some respective points for asking out in light of knowing about her Whiskey origins. I guess he really does like her. I also know that in spite of this series fate that Claire will resurface again this season, so that’s something to be happy about.

Also in “Vows”

The credits contained more shots of Eliza Dushku. I like Eliza but come on, even Whedon’s other shows had everyone in the opening credits.

Victor: “You’re touching my face.”
Adelle: “Moving along.”

Nice to see that Adelle didn’t wait too long to get Victor’s scars removed but why didn’t she extend a similar courtesy to Whiskey after Alpha attacked her?

Sierra: “I’m not comfortable with Orientals.”
Ivy: “This’ll only take a minute.”

Claire (to Boyd): “I like my scars. They bring out my eyes.”

What the heck kind of persona was Sierra supposed to be this week? Both she and Victor were disappointingly underused in this episode.

Echo (re Martin): “Is this about the sex?”
Paul: “I think you’re a demon.”

Claire: “Alpha cut up my face, do you remember that?”
Echo: “Why?”
Claire: “So you could be number one.”
Echo: “Am I?”
Claire: “Yes.”

There was a scene with Echo and Whiskey in flashbacks that will undoubtedly inspire a lot of femslash fanfiction.

Paul: “You’re a sick lady.”
Adelle: “I’m not asking you to handle me.”

Claire (re programming): “Why didn’t you stop there?”
Topher: “Because I was designing a person, not a robot. I needed you to be whole.”

Given the way Topher talked about caring more than he appears to, does that mean we’ll get something of a backstory or more information on him prior to joining the Dollhouse?

Topher: “So you were never gonna sleep with me?”
Claire: “I can’t stand the smell of you.”

Claire: “I’m not better than you. I’m just a series of excuses.”
Topher: “You’re human.”
Claire: “Don’t flatter yourself.”

For UK viewers, Sci-Fi aired both this and next episode, “Instinct” as a double bill. Review for that episode coming soon. Echo was also Roma in this episode.

Topher: “Do you have a better plan?”
Paul: “No but I have a worse one.”

Paul: “You’re making a mistake.”
Martin: “I think you’re the expert in that field.”

Chronology: It’s been a while since “Omega”, hasn’t it?

“Vows” made for a good opening episode and definitely showed improvement but with the lacklustre ratings in America, it feels like this show is on the way out. A shame about that.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Ship's Getting A Revamp (Doctor Who Season 5 Spoilers)

Yes people more spoilers. Isn't life good?

Another thing that has been speculated for months now has confirmation. This is seemingly the first look into the interior of the Eleventh Doctor's TARDIS. So far, I like it. Or am I being too positive?

I'm not sure what this creature is supposed to be but according to Twitter reports, apparently this is episodes 8 and 9 (yes, a two parter) that's currently being filmed. This one is supposedly scribed by Chris Chibnall. Oh, give him a break. His Season 2 Torchwood episodes were flawless and I've always liked 42.

More night shooting here. There was some interesting exchanges between The Doctor and a character called Ambrose. Exchanges that further reminded viewers how useless the sonic screwdriver is against wood. You'd think The Doctor would've amended that one when upgrading the thing.

Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) gets out his umbrella in Cardiff rain and is donning the tweed. Some more of the dialogue (from ....

Unknown guy: "Use the sonic"
The Doctor : "It doesn't work with wood"
Unknown guy : "Well that's rubbish"
The Doctor : "Don't diss the sonic!"

Ambrose: "Why is it night?"
The Doctor : "It's not. Get in the Church!"
Ambrose: "The door's all warped."

Things are certainly speeding along nicely. Now all we have to do is finally watch the last three specials before immersing ourselves fully into Season 5.

Matt Smith filming ...
Karen Gillan filming ...

My Review of The Sarah Jane Adventures 3x01: "Prisoner Of The Judoon"

Written by Phil Ford
Directed by Joss Agnew

Androvax (to Luke): “No wonder Sarah Jane is so proud of you. It makes me want to be sick.”

In the last few weeks, I’ve been going through the first two seasons of this series, following the more devastating events of Torchwood’s third season and in terms of an opening episode, this is certainly a show that’s become more and more in its stride. It’s practically glowing with confidence.

Following the format from the previous two seasons, the opening story featured a race familiar to viewers but essentially new to the Bannerman Road gang. The Judoon (or for the most part, one called Tybo) crash landed to Earth and as a result, brought a new enemy with him as well. Trust such a thing to happen on the series.

In terms of threats, the Androvax was something of an interesting creature. For the briefest of moments, there was a fleeting possibility that he could be a victim of the Judoon but it’s only brief. The Androvax not only managed to escape Tybo’s clutches but it was also able to catch a lot of trouble in such a short amount of time.

When Sarah Jane and Clyde were talking to the distressed little girl, I don’t think there was a single person who was surprised when the girl suddenly read as extraterrestrial on Sarah Jane’s scanner. Sarah Jane then becoming the next person to be possessed by the Androvax was another non surprise.

Elisabeth Sladen certainly has history in playing a possessed Sarah Jane and it’s something that she does rather well. Here as the Androvax, she gets to be the villain for the most part of the story and clearly had a ball in the role reversal from her more heroic alter ego.

In evil form, Sarah Jane was able to threaten the destruction of Mr Smith before actually setting him to destruct when Clyde, Luke, Rani and Tybo made the mistake of going up to the attic at the worst time. Only for Luke’s quick thinking, they would’ve been blown to pieces. Got to love Luke for remembering about Mr Smith’s most important of priorities.

Of course such evilness didn’t stop there. Androvax took over Genetec Systems during the second half of the story, went above and beyond from keeping the gang at bay and even had no problem in toying with Luke’s concerns over his mother’s safety.

One of the main plots in this story involved the advancement of nanogenes and Androvax spotted a wonderful opportunity with them as well. The nanogenes were not only capable of building it a spaceship to flee the Judoon and the threat of death but it also served as a way of destroying the Earth as well.

Time and time again you just wonder why the aliens of the story just don’t leave Earth alone and concentrate mainly on escape. I suppose because there’s often certain viewer exasperation on the very idea, this story attempted to give Androvax more depth.

The creature’s reveal of anger about his own world being frozen is understandable but naturally doesn’t justify his actions. Still though, it does make for some interesting debate, especially as it proved to be the very thing for Sarah Jane to get out of her body.

However in terms of the actual story, I can’t help but wonder if the Androvax is something we’ll see back in the near future. He certainly made for an interesting threat and it’s not like the story actually attempted to redeem him in the end either. It just explained why he was so hell bent on destruction of Earth along with his own survival.

As for the Judoon, they are certainly served well by the overall story as well. For the most part, it’s just Tybo and he’s certainly a barrel of laughs. Mainly for some of his ineptitude and also due to his interaction with the kids of the episode. His intolerance for them is mostly funny, even if his appearance gives Clyde enough ammo for the entire story.

Still there are a few times in the story when you worry about whether or not Tybo might lose the plot altogether and do more harm to either Luke or Rani than just destroy their mobiles. Sometimes, Tybo showed more restraint with the kids than you would expect from a Judoon.

As for punishing them – well, I don’t think they’re going to be that bothered in strictly being Earth bound for the time being. Unless The Doctor during his imminent appearance decides to give them a small trip in the TARDIS. Oh come on, it’s not like there’s anyone who isn’t aware of that massive spoiler by now.

Another fun element of this story was the Chandra parents getting a little in on the action. Gita made a point of dragging Haresh to Genetec Systems and both of them reacted reasonably well when confronted by an army of Judoon. I know Digital Spy weren’t particularly keen on their inclusion in the story but I really can’t see where they’re coming from on this one. They were fine with me.

It also just goes to show that with both the Chandra parents being aware of alien life, then there can’t be much longer until they realise that Rani actually knows more than she was letting as well. Their reactions will certainly be interesting. I think Haresh will probably react worst to Rani getting involved in Sarah Jane’s world.

Also in “Prisoner Of The Judoon”

This continued with previous season openers with Sarah Jane talking about her adventures out in the universe through voice over.

Sarah Jane: “I went to places beyond my wildest dreams and met creatures beyond my darkest nightmares and all of it was amazing.”

Sarah Jane’s history of possession has been in stories such as “Planet Of The Spiders” and “The Hand Of Fear” to name but two.

Clyde (re Judoon): “So they’re the good guys?”
Sarah Jane: “Depends on your point of view. From what I’ve heard their methods aren’t exactly softly softly.”

Tybo (re Androvax): “Prisoner was secured. I do not answer to humans.”
Sarah Jane: “You crashed and let some creature that has already destroyed 12 planets loose on our world. I think you answer to all of us, Captain Tybo.”

The format’s changed this season. Instead of next episodes airing on CBBC at 5.15pm, both parts of each story are on Thursday and Fridays on BBC1 at 4.35pm. That works for me.

Mr Smith: “If that were Sarah Jane I was talking to, she wouldn’t need to ask.”
Androvax (as Sarah Jane): “I am Sarah Jane. I’ve just been upgraded and you will obey me because if I understand it, that is what you are programmed to do. That is your purpose.”

Gita (to Haresh): “That’s your problem my darling. If you want to grow in corporate floristry, you have to learn to think outside the seed box. It’s a planet eat, planet world, Haresh, believe me. Now, come on.”

During the attic scene with Mr Smith, the upcoming animated serial, “Dreamland” was referenced.

Haresh (to Judoon): “Hello and, welcome to Earth.”
Gita: “It’s very nice to meet you.”

Androvax: “Why can’t you just be quiet? I needed a body to hide in, not a conscience.”
Sarah Jane: “Everyone has a conscience, Androvax, even you. You just buried it so deep down you can’t hear it anymore.”

It’s an interesting coincidence that Tybo didn’t scan Luke and discover his origins. Probably would’ve caused a hindrance, plot wise.

Gita (to Haresh, re Judoon): “These are aliens with guns. I think we should be calling the police and not playing I Spy.”

Rani: “Think! What would Luke do?”
Clyde: “I don’t know. I get by on good looks and one liners. I’m not supposed to understand all this techie stuff.”
Rani: “Yeah, I know you’re the cool one but cool isn’t much help right now.”

Androvax (part of a race called the Veil) destroyed 12 worlds and earned the same moniker that Davros gave to The Doctor in “Journey’s End”. He also left Sarah Jane one hell of a cryptic warning.

Androvax: “You will be destroyed in the end. If not by me, then someone will destroy you, Sarah Jane Smith.”

Chronology: Unspecified but seemingly 2009 based perhaps?

“Prisoner Of The Judoon” marked a breezy, fun, confident opener for the series. If this opening story is enough to go on, then we have another good season to look forward to, don’t we?

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Sarah Jane Adventures - Season 3 Promotional Shots

Today is the day. Season 3 of The Sarah Jane Adventures graces our screens every Thursday and Friday, 4.35pm on BBC1 for the next six weeks. Molto Bene.

Clyde Langer (Daniel Anthony), Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen), Luke Smith (Thomas Knight) and Rani Chandra (Anjli Mohindra) gear up for more monsters.

The Judoon encounter our alien fighting gang in the first story as they come to Earth looking for the Veil. As you do.
David Tennant shows up as The Doctor in arguably the most anticipated story of the third season. The Wedding Of Sarah Jane Smith has a groom in Peter (Nigel Havers, sort to be escorting on Coronation Street - not a joke), an old friend with two hearts and quite the gob on him and of course, the Trickster. So looking forward to this smackdown.

Finale wise, The Gift not only gives us the Slitheen but their orange cousins, the Blathereen are also set to cause some trouble. And that's not taking in the fact that we'll meet an older version of a loved character, encounter Mona Lisa and see the gang trapped in a living painting and some much needed K9. Season 3 certainly is going to be eventful.

Game Trailer:

Monday, October 12, 2009

True Blood - Season 2 Promotional Shots

Now that I'm done with the first season, I plan to start watching the second season as quickly as possible. Hopefully within the next week, so beware UK readers, spoilers will surface.

Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), the girl who can read your mind. More on her and Bill this season as well as a growing closeness to Eric. I've been reading up.

Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), both the Fellowship and his nasty maker Lorena will play big roles in the second year.

Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell). The disadvantage of being a shape shifter is having a crazy maenad after you. Enter ...

Maryann Forrester (Michelle Forbes). The woman knows how to bring the crazies. Expect a slew of orgies, corpses and sacrifices in her wake.

The entire cast. Sookie may be our leading lady but the rest of the characters are certainly not ignored. Part of this show's charm is that it's played as an ensemble piece. FXUK had better get a move on and air. Or maybe Channel 4 can nick the for life rights to the series.

Cast Shots:
Trailer 1:
Trailer 2:

So gear up and let's enjoy the second season already!

My Review of The Sarah Jane Adventures 2x06: "Enemy Of The Bane"

Written by Phil Ford
Directed by Graeme Harper

Sarah Jane: “Do you see, Mrs Wormwood? Luke is my son because I have cared for him and looked after him. Because I love him. You don’t understand love. People who understand love don’t want to crush planets or take over the universe. Those people aren’t people at all, they truly are monsters.”

Having the return of the Bane was a brilliant idea for the finale. The Slitheen had their moments but they’re not the kind of monsters worthy for a season ender. Mrs Wormwood on the other hand was perfect, given her personal history with Sarah Jane and Luke. After all, she introduced them to each other.

Targeting Gita was a good way of getting the right amount of attention. Poor Gita’s too trusting for her own good. I know Wormwood pretended to be a client to get close to Gita but you don’t have to be a genius to detect something sinister from Wormwood. It was also a way of introducing Rani to Wormwood as well.

Gita was as easily found as she was snatched in the first place. This story had moments where bitchiness came to the front. The moment where Wormwood talked to Rani about Maria could’ve been a personal jibe if this show had gone down the Rose/Martha route with Rani/Maria. It was nice to see Rani not rise to the bait.

And then there was reunion with Wormwood and Sarah Jane. It could be assumed that during any circumstances, neither woman would give the other the time of day. Wormwood clearly hated the idea of asking Sarah Jane for help when it was revealed that her kindred had turned on her. Geez, alien races aren’t that loyal, huh?

It could’ve been a way to have felt sympathetic towards Wormwood but I’m rather glad that her constant sniping at everyone prevented me from doing that. Outside the Trickster, Wormwood is the best villain the show has produced and certainly an endearing threat to Sarah Jane.

There were some unsubtle parallels to both women as well, giving them an almost Doctor/Master type of vibe. Both women had empty lives, both have big connections to Luke and both of them think in the same lines when it came to defending themselves. Wormwood even joked about their matching sonic weaponry at one point.

Luke however is the biggest connection to them all. Wormwood may lack maternal instincts but she’s still clever enough to try and play on Luke’s need for belonging. Throughout the story she accused Sarah Jane of stunting his potential by keeping him Earthbound and even tried to get him to become her prince.

Luke for the main part did seem good at resisting her. Even though he talked about not dreaming and showed levels of frustrations, Wormwood’s attempts of playing on his insecurities didn’t work her way completely. It probably also didn’t help her that she had Kaagh as her partner in crime as well.

Wormwood was enough to give this finale a satisfying threat along with the Bane hunting her but I really did love the addition of Kaagh. If I have to vote for the best use of a Sontaran, then I think this story is very much going to get my vote. Wormwood and Kaagh made for a very interesting team.

Both of them were disgraced and exiled from their kind, both wanted power and both hate Sarah Jane with a burning passion. If those reasons weren’t good enough for collaboration, then what would be? Plus they were not the only familiar elements of this story.

If we couldn’t get The Doctor to fight alongside Sarah Jane, then having the Brigadier is definitely a fantastic alternative. Like many viewers, I do love the Brigadier and despite his advancing years, Nicholas Courtney proved there was a lot of life in the Brigadier yet.

It was the Brigadier that gave both Sarah Jane and Rani the chance to take a look into the Black Archives at UNIT to get the Tunguska Scrolls for Wormwood and it was also the Brigadier who was able to dispatch of Kilburn as well when the latter paid a home visit to casa de la Smith. Like anyone was surprised that Kilburn was a Bane in disguise.

As for the main scheme between Wormwood and Kaagh – opening up Horath so they could rule. Well, it was certainly more apocalyptic than the Slitheen plot in “The Lost Boy” and it lead to some wonderful scenes. It might have been nice if both of them hadn’t turned on the other but that was to be expected.

Kaagh’s sexism towards Wormwood certainly didn’t do him any favours and she wasn’t impressed when he nearly killed Luke. Wormwood did make one fleeting effort to get Luke to join her side. The big surprise of the story was Kaagh sacrificing himself and Wormwood in order to save the world. Sarah Jane wasn’t the only surprised to witness that. Though I suppose it might have been more shocking if a Dalek did it next (apart from Dalek Caan’s epiphany in “Journey’s End”).

Also in “Enemy Of The Bane”

Gita runs a flower shop called, ‘Bloomin Lovely’, which when you think about it, it’s sort of appropriate in relation to her personality as well.

Mrs Wormwood: “Hello Rani.”
Rani: “How do you know my name?”
Mrs Wormwood: “Oh, I’ve been watching you. You’re taller than your predecessor.”

Like Maria, Rani was one of the 2% of people unaffected by the Bubble Shock drink. Wormwood mentioned that her people were going to eat her alive. And I thought Slitheen punishment was bad enough.

Mrs Wormwood (to Sarah Jane): “So, this is from where you save the world. How comfortingly unsophisticated.”

Sarah Jane (to Clyde): “Haven’t I taught you there are better ways of dealing with aliens than guns?”
Rani: “What do you expect? He’s a boy.”

Clyde and Luke had an interesting discussion in relation to parenting. Clyde’s comments on his father were certainly memorable.

The Brigadier (to Kilburn): “In my day we took on Daleks, Cybermen, Autons, Zygons, all manner of space thuggery and it doesn’t get more hostile than that.”

Mrs Wormwood: “Is that why you wanted to talk? Do you hate me for giving you life?”
Luke: “I enjoy my life but this world is complicated, however clever you are.”

When the Brigadier was mentioning all those monsters, how come the Master didn’t get a mention, given the amount of times the Brigadier has encountered him?

Mrs Wormwood: “Saving human lives is becoming a bit of a habit with me, Miss Smith. I do hope we can conclude our business together before I am scarred for life.”

Kaagh: “No one comes between a Sontaran warrior and his prize of vengeance.”
Mrs Wormwood: “Expect you’re no longer a warrior, are you? Kaagh the slayer? Kaagh the shambles more like. Now, do we understand each other?”

How did Wormwood get out of the force field Mr Smith had her trapped in?

Sarah Jane: “One thing I never expected to see was the universe being saved by a Sontaran.”

Chronology: A few days since “The Temptation Of Sarah Jane Smith”.

When I first watched “Enemy Of The Bane”, I found it pretty good but a few more viewings and it got better and better for me. It even came pretty close to the big scale type of finales so common on Doctor Who nowadays but overall, this is how you do a finale folks.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

My Review of The Sarah Jane Adventures 2x05: "The Temptation Of Sarah Jane Smith"

Written by Gareth Roberts
Directed by Graeme Harper

Barbara (to Sarah Jane): “Look at you. Older than us.”
Eddie: “And you came all this way to see us.”

The phrase, ‘been here, done that’ is succinct to this story. We already saw on Doctor Who the dire consequences of trying to save a dead parent. Rose Tyler nearly created a permanent world of disaster and Sarah Jane even did the same.

The problem is that Rose was reasonably naïve when she made the decision to save Pete back in 1987. Sarah Jane’s had enough time travel and life experience at this point that she should be able to avoid making the same kind of mistake.

Of course, it’s always going to be an easier said than done thing. Anyone who has lost a parent, especially in Rose and Sarah Jane’s cases where you grew up entirely without them is going to think rationally. The Trickster knew this when he set the trap in motion. Sarah Jane even guessed that she was being set up. That didn’t stop her though.

Oscar was the catalyst into her seeing 1951. When she realized that the young boy belonged to that time, she had no choice but to learn more. It was good that Luke probed her about her parents. It was also good that he opted to go with her. When the fissure closed both of them were trapped.

The 1950’s were a time of rations and fetes and seeing both Barbara and Eddie in full communal swing gave Sarah Jane food for thought. She thought her parents abandoned her at three months. This went to prove that she was utterly loved by her folks.

Barbara and Eddie were a fairly likeable duo. Both of them greeted Sarah Jane and Luke reasonably well. There were some lovely moments in particular with Sarah Jane and Barbara. Sarah Jane must have been dying to find out how her parents met and Barbara was happy enough to fill her in.

Happiness aside, Sarah Jane’s rationality went out the window though. Luke took on something of a Doctor-esque by trying to tell his mother to leave but Sarah Jane couldn’t. She even went as far as to put Eddie’s car out of business so him and Barbara wouldn’t drive off to their deaths.

By saving her parents, Sarah Jane gave the Trickster exactly what it wanted – existence and ruler ship of the Earth. Much as I enjoy the Trickster returning, it’s a shame that he isn’t used as a finale villain. He’s definitely threatening enough to be one and this story had a reasonable apocalyptic feel to it.

As hellish worlds go, this story won’t win points for originality. It’s every bit as hopeless and demoralizing as the parallel universe that was created around Donna in “Turn Left” as Rani had the misfortune to see her mother and a few other unlucky survivors become a tired workforce for the Graske. Not remotely fun, huh?

Rani and Clyde by themselves did make for an effective team, I will give you that. Clyde was the one to realize that the box from “Whatever Happened To Sarah Jane?” was enough to protect them from the Trickster and it was Clyde’s quick thinking that got the Graske to switch teams.

Rani caused a bit of a stir in the 1950s but her main faux paus was letting Eddie and Barbara know who Sarah Jane really was. Some top notch acting from the actors behind the Smiths and also from Elisabeth Sladen when Sarah Jane was finally able to be honest with her parents.

Barbara and Eddie driving off to their deaths was exactly like “Father’s Day” and certainly ignited the same response. Sarah Jane didn’t have to persuade her parents to sacrifice themselves but it certainly stopped the Trickster in his tracks as well. Surely with two defeats under his belt, he’s going to want to even the score just that little bit more?

As for the Graske escaping, does that mean he’ll have changed a new leaf or will he be smart enough to cause chaos in places where neither The Doctor nor Sarah Jane can stop him? Perhaps not. The Graske wasn’t exactly empathetic of the human race, even if he was revealed to be a prisoner of the Trickster.

The last scene with Luke telling Sarah Jane about how lucky he is to have her will undoubtedly tug at the heart strings. It’s a nice scene and a further reminder of how full Sarah Jane’s life is; even she doesn’t have her parents in it. Still, at least she uncovered the truth about the day they died.

Also in “The Temptation Of Sarah Jane Smith”

The start of the story almost gave the impression of Autons with the mannequins there. I wonder if Autons could be used on this show.

Sarah Jane: “You see it in the movies. You go back, change one thing and there’s terrible consequences.”
Rani: “But you’ve traveled through the TARDIS.”
Sarah Jane: “With The Doctor, who knew what he was doing. Most of the time. This is different and I’m closing it up forever.”

For a brief second, I actually thought we’d see David Tennant in this story with the police box/TARDIS moments. Bloody teases.

Sarah Jane: “Think about it, it’s all too convenient. It could be a trap.”
Luke: “Or a coincidence.”
Sarah Jane: “No, it must be a trap. Which is another reason for not going.”

Clyde: “We’ll make a list of all her enemies.”
Rani: “Great idea. Shouldn’t take us more than fifteen years. Mr. Smith, I need you.”

Because of the Trickster, this story earned another Maria mentioned as well as some footage from the Trickster’s first appearance.

Oscar/Graske: “So stupid, humans.”
Clyde: “Really did not like where that sentence ended up either.”

Trickster (to Sarah Jane): “Do you not understand? The battle is over. You have already lost.”

There a Planet Of The Apes feel to the way the first half of this story ended. We even saw Big Ben in ruins.

Sarah Jane: “Doctor, it’s me. Doctor.”
Police Officer: “Won’t find a Doctor in here, my love. What do you want?”

Graske: “Graske never enslaved.”
Rani: “Then why do you work for him? What do you get out of it?”

Haresh didn’t exist in the parallel world set up here. Also, how come the Reapers didn’t come here? Did the Trickster manage to keep them away from proceedings?

Rani (to Mrs. King): “Yes, hello, ethnic girl in the 50’s. Hi.”

Sarah Jane: “I tried so hard to resist the temptation. I knew the dangers but I couldn’t stop myself. I had to see you.”
Barbara: “I’m so glad you did.”
Sarah Jane: “So am I.”

Barbara and Eddie’s notes, the last one we saw said, ‘Mr. Smith, I need you’.

Trickster: “You have defeated me.”
Sarah Jane: “I did nothing. That was my mum and dad saving the world. Something we Smiths can’t help doing.”

Chronology: Mainly 1951 and Present day.

“The Temptation Of Sarah Jane Smith” may be a rethread but for some reason, I enjoyed it more than I did “Father’s Day”. Not sure why though but overall a terrific story.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

My Review of The Sarah Jane Adventures 2x04: "The Mark Of The Berserker"

Written by Joseph Lidster
Directed by Joss Agnew

Clyde: “Sometimes people think I’m not bothered by stuff. That I’m always …”
Sarah Jane: “Clyde, you don’t have to be cool all the time.”

In this show, we’ve been lucky with the fathers so far. It’s hard not like Alan as a character and in the last story, Haresh has also shown himself a fairly decent bloke. Sadly when it comes to Clyde, the phrase ‘deadbeat dad’ really is applicable to Paul, who makes a very unforgettable visit to Bannerman Road.

Clyde hadn’t seen his father in five years and was naturally reluctant enough to get to know him. Even when he offered to go to the park with his father, he wasn’t best pleased. To side with Clyde, Paul didn’t exactly seem like he was all that bothered.

Even their conversation was strained. Paul asked Clyde all the usual questions but rather out of need to talk than a genuine interest in his son’s progress. Plus Paul didn’t exactly endear himself with the snide remarks he made about Luke, did he?

Like many people, Clyde did want approval from his father and blabbing about what he got up to with Luke, Rani and Sarah Jane was his way of trying to do that. Paul only accepted that Clyde was telling him the truth when he went to Sarah Jane’s attic and spotted all the paraphernalia in the place.

During those scenes, Paul’s true colours did emerge more. Instead of being wowed by the confirmation of alien existence or even afraid, he saw this stuff as something to sell. The second he stole the pendant Rani had left for Sarah Jane, I knew trouble wasn’t far behind.

We had already seen the consequences earlier on in this story with both Jacob and Rani using it, so Paul was always going to take that to further extremes. Getting Haresh to exercise was one thing but having Clyde forget about Luke and Rani was worse.

Of course when it came to Paul, his use of the pendant continued to get crueller and crueller. Anytime Clyde tried to ask him deeper questions, Paul kept him quiet with the pendant. The worst thing however was making him forget about Carla. I know Paul was also being affected by the Berserker influence of the pendant but it was pretty hard to feel that bad for him.

Thankfully because of Sarah Jane largely being underused in this episode, we did get a much welcomed reappearance from both Maria and Alan. I was kind of hoping that the two of them would be more finale bound, but seeing them in the second part of this story was a delight.

For one thing, I liked that there was no rivalry between Maria and Rani. I think the fact that Maria knew about Rani helped matters and that there was serious danger with Paul’s corruptive influence over Clyde for the girls to develop any rivalry. Besides it was a lot more entertaining to see them bonding with one another.

Maria and Alan were the ones who brushed up the gang on the Berserker history and it was Maria who also got Alan to fiddle around with Carla’s sat nav to locate when Clyde and Paul were heading. I also got a kicking at Maria scoffing over the idea of leaving her alien fighting days behind her. Maybe one day she will return from Washington.

As for the climatic confrontation in this story, we did get some stirring moments. Paul’s weakness was the very thing that had the Berserker hold such an influence over him but his feelings for Clyde and Carla were what broke them as well. As bad a father as he is, he did show some signs of caring.

Clyde’s scenes with his dad showed maturity on his part. While I can understand why Clyde elected not to make his father forget, I did wonder why he chose to have Carla’s memories taken away. It’s a shame because we didn’t get to see Carla really react to the evidence of aliens whereas we had seen Paul do so.

Where Paul largely lacks as a character, it seemed that Carla made up. Seriously, I thought Gita was lovely but Carla pretty much usurped her here. I loved her little bonding scenes with Clyde and the advice she gave to Luke. I’m hoping that this will not be the last we get to see of her. She’s definitely worth bringing back again.

The story’s last scene with Clyde and Sarah Jane however revealed the mother of all spoilers. A lot of stuff has been mentioned or hinted at about Sarah Jane’s parents in the season, so I guess she’ll be meeting both mummy and daddy in the next story. She was right about Clyde not always having to be cool, though I think he might get that more from his mum rather than his father.

Also in “The Mark Of The Berserker”

There was a good moment of slight horror when Jacob got all of his classmates and teacher to be silent.

Sarah Jane: “How are you?”
Carla: “Well, I’d tell you over a cup of tea if you ever had the time for one.”

I think there’s a hint there for Sarah Jane to become a bit more social with her neighbours. Well she and Gita are friendly enough to each other.

Haresh (re pendant): “What’s that?”
Rani: “It’s a hamster.”
Haresh: “Why do you have a hamster in your pocket?”

Rani: “Jacob, what are you doing here?”
Jacob: “Show me your hand. It’s already happening, isn’t it?”

Rani getting Haresh to do Bianca off EastEnders, a lion was funny until she realised that Haresh might have killed himself.

Carla: “What the hell are you doing here? Don’t you care about Clyde at all?”
Paul: “Yeah, that’s why I’m back.”

Paul: “It wasn’t your fault.”
Clyde: “I never thought it was and don’t try that. You ran off with Auntie Mel.”

Paul revealed that he ran away from Mel when he discovered she was pregnant and he mentioned the Daleks. Clyde also revealed his talent for drawing.

Maria: “Hi, Rani, yeah? Luke’s told me all about you. How are you finding the whole alien thing?”
Rani: “Yeah, it’s cool. Alright, it’s more than that. It’s uber cool.”

Carla: “Who are you talking to?”
Rani: “Oh, just one of Luke’s geeky mates.”
Alan: “Geeky? Thanks for that, Rani.”

Briefly in this episode we saw Sarah Jane chasing after a three eyed alien called a Travast Polong in a hospital.

Maria: “And that’s it? We just sit here and wait?”
Alan: “What else can we do?”
Maria: “I’ve got an idea. Get typing Dad. And you thought we left it all behind?”

Carla: “What have you done to him, Paul? I knew you were trouble but I never thought you were a … monster.”
Clyde: “He’s not a monster.”

Standout music: I guess Mika’s “Grace Kelly” but sometimes the music slips me by on this show.

Clyde (re Paul): “I shouldn’t have brought him here.”
Sarah Jane: “You wanted to impress your Dad. I’d probably have done the same.”

We didn’t really get Mr Smith in this episode and Gita was also nowhere to be seen.

“The Mark Of The Berserker” is a good story for giving Clyde some depth and also successful in not taking the easy way out with Paul as well. The reduced role for Sarah Jane however will probably be rewarded with the next story.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

My Review of The Sarah Jane Adventures 2x03: "Secrets Of The Stars"

Written by Gareth Roberts
Directed by Michael Kerrigan

Trueman: “How have you done this?”
Luke: “I wasn’t born. I have no birthday.”
Clyde: “No star sign.”
Luke: “So astrology doesn’t work on me.”

As someone who is pretty interested in astrology, I was immensely looking forward to this episode a lot. Astrology is one of those things that divide people. Some believe in it totally and others dismiss it as complete rubbish. I’m a bit of both. I can see certain consistencies but I don’t take everything at face value.

Cheryl however was someone that obviously did if her admission to Martin Trueman about risking her mortgage money was anything to go by. This confession was enough to make Martin admit that he was a fake, only then to become infected by the Ancient Lights. It didn’t fare that well for Cheryl either.

His little show about a third into the first episode of this story had everything you’d expect from a psychic or medium type of exhibition. People were amazed to find that he was intimately aware of certain secrets about them, others were still sceptical (Haresh for good example) and Sarah Jane herself was frightened.

With the amount of mentions that The Doctor has generated on this series, I did wonder if this was going to be a further hint that he would grace Bannerman Road with his presence. Sarah Jane was protective of The Doctor’s memory and more than perturbed when Martin was revealing to all about him leaving her.

I got something of a giggle when Gita accepted The Doctor as confirmation that Sarah Jane was nursing a broken heart. It wasn’t that long ago she was helping her former mentor and others move the Earth back to its rightful place. No wonder she wasn’t pleased when Trueman used it against her.

The rivalry between Sarah Jane and Martin was set up from the minute her and Rani had noticed Cheryl acting possessed towards her worried husband. The simple moan of not being able to enjoy a night out without something weird happening was enough. It was also timely to Martin nearly babbling about the dangers that Rani had suddenly been caught up in as well.

For her second story, Rani feels like she’s always been there. It doesn’t make you forget Maria as such but its nice feeling, given that Rani is proving to be resourceful during investigations as well. It was her who came up with the idea of the Ancient Lights and Astrology existing from another universe.

The astrology lessons in this story were certainly interesting enough. Luke spent a good chunk of the time dismissing the idea due to it contracting universal and physical laws but even he was surprised when Mr Smith brushed him up on other species looking to the stars for guidance.

As for Trueman, his motives weren’t entirely complicated stuff. He had spent most of his life systematically failing at everything he did and naturally he resented it. The idea of the Ancient Light inside him giving him knowledge and control over everyone was overwhelming. Even Sarah Jane failed to appeal to his better nature when trying to get him to stop.

The Ancient Light wanting to control the population and explore the universe felt old hat enough. Lots of alien races use something to get everyone under control. The Sycorax used blood; the Ancient Light used people’s star signs. Trueman even went one further by trying to turn Clyde into a would be assassin halfway through the story.

The Clyde and Sarah Jane scenes that followed this were some of the best. Sarah Jane was convinced that it was appealing to his humanity that prevented Clyde from killing her. Maybe there was some truth to it but the reality was that it was Luke touching Clyde that snapped him around.

The reveal of Luke being the one to break everyone out of Trueman’s control should’ve been obvious enough. There was such fanfare made about the fact that he didn’t have a birthday. Which meant not being governed under any star sign, which also meant that Trueman couldn’t control him.

I think this was probably the first time that Luke really got to save the day this season and it was done in a really neat way. It was also timely given that even Rani had succumbed to Trueman’s spell and that Sarah Jane was moments from doing so as well. Plus it added to some of the scenes with Luke and Sarah Jane that ended the episode.

Luke angsting over the lack of a birthday was enough of a reminder of his long line of differences, despite the fact he’s fitting in a little better. He seems to be also accepting Rani into the group more as well, given that she hasn’t been there all that long and he got some amusement from the up/down debacle that Clyde didn’t want to be reminded of as well. Seeing the humorous side to Luke is a good thing.

As for Rani’s parents, they didn’t waste much time in softening Haresh did they? He seemed more sympathetic and less hostile to Clyde. Plus he was annoyed when Martin upset Sarah Jane and fearful when Gita was one of the first people affected by Martin’s live broadcast. Apart from being possessed, Gita seemed less vocalised than her husband in this one.

Also in “Secrets Of The Stars”

Okay, star sign wise, both Sarah Jane/Haresh are Taurus (like the writer of this story, Gareth Roberts), Rani is an Aries, Cheryl/Martin/Gita/Clyde are Gemini. The better thing is that both Clyde and I share the same birthday, June 5th.

Rani: “Right, Gemini. Funny, popular.”
Clyde: “Oh yeah? There is something in it.”
Rani: “Lazy, shallow.”
Clyde: “There you see, it’s rubbish.”

We got an archived footage of The Doctor and Sarah Jane from the Doctor Who episode “School Reunion” during Martin’s little show and tell.

Sarah Jane: “I knew it.”
Rani: “What’s wrong?”
Sarah Jane: “I can’t even have one night out without something weird happening. Come on.”

Clyde (re Trueman): “How did he do that?”
Sarah Jane: “Power of suggestion. Simple stuff. Parlour trick.”
Clyde: “Nobody ever mentions this again, okay?”

It seems that Gita is also making the faux paus of addressing Sarah Jane as “Sarah”. I think after Chrissie’s mix-ups, it’s an improvement but I can see why it would annoy Sarah Jane.

Trueman (to Sarah Jane, re The Doctor): “There was a man. A very special man. No, no, let me think. It wasn’t a romance. It was much, much more than that. He taught you so much. There was laughter and adventures and you prayed that your time with him would never, never end but then suddenly he left you.”

Rani (re Trueman): “You have an appointment?”
Sarah Jane: “Oh no, this is going to be an old fashioned foot in the door kind of job.”
Rani: “Need an extra pair of feet?”

During his research, Mr Smith mentioned both Draconian and Ventiplex while Trueman made Doctor/Companion comparisons with Sarah Jane and Rani.

Haresh: “I know exactly what you’re up to and I’m not falling for it. You can stop this now. The wind up is over.”
Gita: “I mustn’t stop. I’ve got to go.”
Haresh: “Okay, and now you’re scaring me. Please tell me you’re having a laugh, I won’t mind? You can tell everyone. Just say this is you pulling my leg.”

Clyde: “You don’t understand something so you call it alien. Sarah Jane, you always say there’s so much more to the world that most people will ever know. Why not this?”

Sarah Jane talked about being taken over before. I know it’s happened to her a few times. Two that stick out for me are “Planet Of The Spiders” and “The Hand Of Fear”.

Trueman (to Sarah Jane): “Do you really think that’s going to work, making an appeal to my better nature? Don’t you see the human part of me loving every moment of this?”

Trueman (to Sarah Jane/Luke/Rani/Clyde): “You flicked a switch. Flicked a switch? The Ancient Light survived the big bang and you think you can stop me by flicking a switch?”

This was another story to feature the ever intrepid Trinity Wells, who was also revealed to be a Leo.

I think if you leave prejudice aside in regards to the nature, history and general point concerning astrology, “Secrets Of The Stars” is actually quite a fun story to watch. Trueman and the Ancient Lights are also possible return worthy villain material as well come to think of it.

Rating: 9 out of 10.