Thursday, October 22, 2009

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.


Mark Greig said...

A decent enough start to the series. Loved the Judoon upholding every law he came across ("You pay, you display":) but felt Sladen went too OTT in part 2.

shawnlunn2002 said...

The Judoon were certainly fun. I suppose there was some OTT with ES as Androvax. Looking forward to this week's story.