Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Review of The Sarah Jane Adventures 5x02: "The Curse Of Clyde Langer"

Written by Phil Ford
Directed by Ashley Way

Clyde (re begging): “You do this every day? Even in the rain?”
Ellie: “You’re hungry, I’m hungry. It’s either this or going through bins. I’ve done that too.”

I’ve said it enough times about this show and I’ll say it again – it doesn’t matter how much this show is billed as a kids series, it’s just amazing how much it refuses to dumb things down for the younger audiences. Even the topic of homelessness (which I wasn’t expecting to see here) is handled in a realistic manner without being patronising to the core audience.

Homelessness is always going to an issue in society and this story nicely highlighted that it’s a fate that can fall on anyone from any kind of a background. Ellie Faber explained that rather succinctly to Clyde when she took him to a soup kitchen because for this story alone, Clyde became a victim of society turning it’s back on him.

Daniel Anthony has always been one of the best things about this series and Clyde has certainly progressed as a character throughout the five series we’ve had and here is the story which really did him justice both for his acting abilities and his character too. Who would’ve thought the whole world would turn against Clyde Langer?

It’s exactly what they did do though and all because Clyde happened to get a nasty splinter of a totem pole of the god Hetocumtek in a museum and it was certainly an effective curse. I think having it set into place the moment his name was mentioned was actually really clever but led to a series of mishaps for Clyde.

His scene with Sarah Jane where she was admiring his drawing and then soured towards him after his name was mentioned was interesting. Even I got a little upset for Clyde when she turned on him for his friendly teasing of Luke and then forced him to leave her house. Of course the other two important people in his life quickly followed.

Rani launched into a tirade about how much she hated him and Haresh seemed to have a certain glee in excluding him from school (either that or I’ve been seeing Ace Bhatti too much as Yusef in EastEnders nowadays) as well but having even Carla turn on Clyde seemed to hammer home the most how bad things were for him.

I guess the least was that Steve fella who we only met here but it was nice that Clyde actually tried to find out about the curse with the totem pole before Dr Madigan turned on him as well. In the end, the only person Clyde had in his corner from his point of view was Ellie and that was because she didn’t know his name.

I liked the connection that Clyde forged with Ellie in this one. He showed her kindness earlier in the episode by giving her money for a sandwich but didn’t seem too sympathetic to her plight until he was put in the same position and got a better understanding. It also helped tremendously that Lily Loveless had such a good rapport with Daniel Anthony as well for this story.

I’m not sure if the romantic subplot between Clyde and Ellie was actually needed but it worked nicely enough too because it was subtle and the actors played well with each other. I also have to admit that I was relieved when Ellie’s talk of the Night Dragon actually turned out to be something more helpful to the homeless than harmless. I still have memories of homeless people on another show winding up as Cybermen.

I also hope that the incident with the Night Dragon meant that Ellie got a better life than the one she was enduring on the streets but it’s a shame that she’s gone too. I quite liked the character and it was nice to have seen Clyde forge a connection with someone who wasn’t in the Bannerman Road gang.

Of course Ellie wasn’t the only person that was in Clyde’s corner. I don’t give a monkey’s how ‘Mary Sue’ it was but I actually liked the fact that Sky was unaffected by the curse too and quickly realised how it was being triggered. Even if she is an alien, it’s nice to see her figuring things out and being helpful and if it wasn’t for her, then Clyde never would’ve been able to defeat Hetocumtek.

The defeat of the god seemed a lot simpler by comparison to everything else that actually happened in the story but it’s a minor quibble for such a quality story. It’s also wonderful to see (when he’s not being shunned) hoe well this new team of sorts are banding together. It actually feels like Sky has always been a part of the gang in a way, doesn’t it?

Also in “The Curse Of Clyde Langer”

The episode opened with Clyde asking a question about the storm of trout and it turned out he was asking the question to Ellie. Also, I liked the change of cliff hanger moment at the end of the first part. It definitely suited the tone of the story.

Clyde (to Ellie): “Where were you the day of the storm? You know the one I mean. No-one’s ever gonna forget that.”

One again, this episode played on Clyde’s drawing talents, including a moment where him and Ellie thought to make money from it.

Haresh: “Excuse me, Sarah Jane, Sky. Some of our pupils have an overdeveloped sense of humour.”

Sky: “I love this planet. Just when you think you get fish in the sea, then they start coming out from the sky.”

I know with the cuts to the BBC that most kids programming has been relegated to the digital channels but it is a shame this series isn’t airing on BBC.

Sky: “So what’s in a museum?”
Rani: “Dead things mostly.”

Sky (re totem pole): “Isn’t it pretty?”
Rani: “I think the word you’re looking for is creepy.”

This story did actually state how natural it is for some fish to actually fall out of the sky if they’re caught up in a tornado but not fish as big as trout though.

Clyde: “This is crazy.”
Sarah Jane: “You want crazy, I’ll give you crazy.”

Sky (to Sarah Jane): “Why do I have to be brave at school? Will people try to hurt me there?”

We found out from Rani that her parents met in a museum and why was Luke (not seen on screen) affected by the curse as well if Sky wasn’t?

Ellie (to Clyde): “If you had a row with your folks, go home. With any luck, you’ll be nice and warm in bed tonight.”

Mystic Mags: “Something bad is coming?”
Clyde: “You mean like the Night Dragon?”

Mystic Mags was played by Angela Pleasance who played Liz the first in “The Shakespeare Code”.

Rani (to Haresh, re Clyde): “I don’t know. It’s like something’s wrong. It feels like I’ve lost something really special and I don’t know what it is.”

Sarah Jane: “None of this makes sense, Sky.”
Sky (re Clyde): “You turning your back on him doesn’t make sense. Even his mum’s thrown him out.”

Clyde’s opening narration has been tweaked a little to talk about Sky. He referred to her as Sarah Jane’s adopted daughter.

Clyde (to Hetocumtek): “My name is Clyde Langer.”

Chronology: Not sure how much time has passed since “Sky” to be honest but I don’t think it’s been a lot.

I think as a story, “The Curse Of Clyde Langer” really is a personal best for the series. It might not have focused on the alien in question as heavily but what we got here was a fantastic character piece for Clyde and with one more story to go, this show will be a loss to TVs everywhere.

Rating: 9 out of 10

1 comment:

noybusiness said...

Luke is a genetically-engineered human, but still human. Sky wasn't affected because she's a different species.

Good review!