Saturday, November 07, 2009

My Review of The Sarah Jane Adventures 3x04: "The Eternity Trap"

Written by Phil Ford
Directed by Alice Troughton

Erasmus (to Clyde/Rani): “You cross my threshold of your own free will and now by my will, you shall stay for eternity.”

When it comes to this verse, we get it already – ghosts do not exist. Another story that solidifies this belief would be this one where the goings on of Ashen Manor may look spooky but supposedly aren’t, in the supernatural sense of things.

At least that’s what both Sarah Jane and Professor Rivers seem to believe. Despite his absence, we’re also told that Luke isn’t convinced by the existence of ghosts either. So, why do Clyde, Rani and more vocally, Toby seem to think that there’s some truth in the supernatural then?

Well, even before anything ‘spooky’ happened, Ashen Manor does look like the sort of clichéd home to attract the supernatural, doesn’t it? Erasmus Darkening certainly seemed to be enjoying tormenting those who unwisely lived in the house for the past three hundred plus years that’s for sure.

Sarah Jane’s cynicism about the spiritual elements is duly maintained throughout the whole story. Even though there are certain moments where Toby thought he was vindicated in his beliefs of the paranormal, Sarah Jane’s lack of belief never faltered. If it wasn’t for her own experiences, she’d appeared to be a very silly woman for not at least entertaining the idea of ghosts.

In terms of ghostly activities, a lot of the stuff does seem to be rather textbook examples here. Weird crying/noises, things being moved around, the house shaking and things being thrown at different points. If it’s alien, then it certainly has a peculiar sense of humour in that regard. Of course it’s alien, even though it took a while for Sarah Jane to confirm it of course.

But the kind of alien that Erasmus Darkening is however was never revealed in this story. He certainly knows enough about dimension and his fractured accelerator was certainly a way of trapping various people and prolonging his own existence. That was appropriate, given the title for this story.

It also wasn’t long before Professor Rivers became one of the people trapped as well by Erasmus’s little trap. Someone had to get it and Rivers I guess made the best candidate. It meant that Toby also largely spent his time with Sarah Jane while Clyde and Rani failed miserably to stay out of trouble themselves.

The team up with Sarah Jane and Toby was interesting enough. Toby certainly seemed like a character that is likely to return to the series, especially given that Professor Rivers herself has been a recurring character as well. He certainly learned a lot from Sarah Jane by the end of the Erasmus debacle.

His belief in the paranormal seemed to stem from a single incident that he couldn’t put a scientific explanation onto. The fact that he also doesn’t make any attempts to hide the fact that he wanted approval from his father was revealing in its own way. Something that Sarah Jane also commented on. I also can’t help but love his joy at seeing Lord Marchwood and not freaking out as well. Good for him.

For every villain of the piece, there needs to be a victim and Lord Marchwood is probably the biggest one here. It was his foolishness and trust in Erasmus that put the alien into his proximity and it was an attack gone wrong that damned Erasmus to being stuck on Earth and snatching people for his own survival.

Callum Blue was a good a choice for Lord Marchwood, neatly highlighting the character’s anguish at Erasmus’s reign of terror and also the heroism. Several times in the story, it’s both Marchwood and his lost children that try to warn the gang to leave Ashen Manor or save them from being attacked by Erasmus.

Erasmus certainly did attack at great length, though he never actually succeeded in snaring Sarah Jane, Clyde, Rani and Toby without Marchwood scuppering his plans. Even the one chance he had to get them without Marchwood, Erasmus spent too much time bragging about his genius to actually do the deed in question.

It just goes to show that you can have a colossus of genius and still be a halfwit at times. Erasmus spent too much time with childish ghost tactics and bragging about his own importance that Marchwood, Toby and Sarah Jane were able to get their own back and turn him into electricity. As comeuppances went, it was fine, though maybe finding a way to send him home or into the nearest black hole might have better.

The ending for this story was pretty simplistic as well. Professor Rivers came back and realised that while ghosts still don’t exist, something did. I’m not sure how much Sarah Jane filled in but Toby’s talk of looking into the stars should’ve given her a vital clue. As for Clyde and Rani, jokes references aside, both of them felt a little underused in certain parts.

Also in “The Eternity Trap”

Does anyone know why Tommy Knight wasn’t in this one? Something to do with exams, seeing as he’s the youngest of the child actors.

Sarah Jane: “It’s a good story professor but I don’t believe in ghosts.”
Professor Rivers: “Of course you don’t and neither do I but Ashen Manor is reputedly one of the most haunted locations in the UK.”

Erasmus Darkening really looked like and sounded like Borusa from “The Five Doctors”, despite him being played by a different actor.

Clyde (to Sarah Jane): “No wonder Luke wanted to stay at home. I could get bored at jumping out of my own shadow pretty fast.”

Toby: “That’s better professor. The camera doesn’t do you any favours.”
Professor Rivers: “I heard that.”

Toby’s father is the reputed, Sir Rupert Silverman. The creature he was supposed to have seen as a child was the Trickster from the way Toby described him.

Rani (to Erasmus): “It’s not that we’re not tempted but we’ve got school on Monday.”

Erasmus: “We exist at different frequencies. Your steel cannot hurt me, Marchwood.”
Lord Marchwood: “And your magic cannot hurt me again.”

This was another story not to feature Rani’s parents, though apparently Luke had no problem beating Haresh six times at chess.

Erasmus: “I’m Erasmus Darkening, Lord of magic.”
Sarah Jane: “You really shouldn’t believe your own press, you know. Maybe people believed in magic when you were conning Lord Marchwood, that you could make gold from lead but not anymore.”

Rani: “So how do you distract a ghost?”
Clyde: “Um, you find them a pretty ghoul friend?”

In case you don’t know, we now know that Doctor Who’s “The Waters Of Mars” airs on November 15th at 7pm on BBC1 so we’re getting doubly spoiled next week.

Clyde (to Rani): “Some aliens are like us. The Doctor looked human.”

Erasmus: “You disappoint me, Miss Smith.”
Sarah Jane: “I never like to disappoint.”

Chronology: Nothing specified since “The Wedding Of Sarah Jane Smith”

Out of the four stories that have aired so far this season, “The Eternity Trap” for me is the weakest of the bunch. It’s not a terrible story and Luke’s absence doesn’t deter proceedings but even with the presence of Callum Blue and a good villain in Erasmus Darkening, it’s just not a favourite of mine.

Rating: 7 out of 10.


Anonymous said...
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shawnlunn2002 said...

I am going to make this clear once and once only. Anyone who links anything pornographic or unrelating to television will automatically have their message deleted.

I am not a prude but this is NOT a place to link such material, so don't do it please.

Joe Matte said...

Erasmus Darkening looked and dressed like the Time Lords of old....knowing now they are returned....perhaps this was an advance clue.... ?