Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Sarah Jane Adventures S01E01-02-Revenge of the Slitheen

Luke’s first day at school holds many unexpected surprises. Social awkwardness aside, he finds acceptance in a tiny school science club that specializes in impossibly hard equations. Unfortunately, not everything is as normal as Luke, Maria and newcomer Clyde come to expect from school. An old threat has returned to seek revenge on planet Earth. And this time, they’re pulling out all of the stops to ensure the total destruction of the planet.

After the somewhat uneven pilot that was “The Invasion of Bane”, The Sarah Jane Adventures gets off to a more proper start. And what better way to bring in new viewers and long time Doctor Who associates than to have our spunky heroine tackle the Slitheen, making their first appearance since “Boom Town” in Doctor Who Series 1. It’s cool that The Doctor got two big nods here in this episode; when Sarah Jane reveals why, or rather “who”, the Slitheen were stopped way back when; and when Clyde is properly introduced to Sarah Jane’s world. It is pretty obvious to anyone by now that Russell T. Davies and his writing team are doing their best to keep Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures connected in whatever small way they can. It works well here, but then again, it will be nice to see how Sarah Jane and her companions take on a more original threat later on in the series.

In keeping with the mindset that this is an aimed at children program, the young cast does a good job with their roles. Maria’s character is reminiscent of a Doctor companion a la Rose or Martha, taking in her new discoveries while using her unparalleled wit and calm to help save the day. Luke is your typical genetically engineered smart but socially awkward that continues to bring to thought ideas that this could be reminiscent of The Doctor’s long forgotten youth. Mind you that is only speculative. And Clyde, replacing Kelsey from the pilot, turns out to be a far more interesting character than his predecessor. He is the young audiences real key to accessing this series, reacting probably more realistically to how any youngster would when seeing a Slitheen. Even better, he is not as annoying a character as Kelsey was, something that made “The Invasion of Bane” drag a bit.

And what of Sarah Jane herself? Give Elisabeth Sladen her props, after almost two decades away from the Doctor Who seen, she is still a companion we all love and want to cheer for. Most of this is thanks to Sladen, who infuses real depth to her character, suddenly thrust into the role of mother not only for Luke, but Maria and Clyde in a way as well. And, in the spirit of Captain Jack Harkness, I should say, she doesn’t look too bad for what, 60? Not at all.

“Revenge of the Slitheen” had all the energy of a fast paced Doctor Who story but with a totally different cast. If the show can keep up this pace then it is sure to go far. For the teens who have Doctor Who and the adults who have Torchwood, children now have their access point to the world of The Doctor, and that is The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Next Time-Those aren’t ordinary garden statues, are they?


Sunday, July 6, 2008

What Now?

And now I’m sure there’s another question of everyone’s mind. Doctor Who and Torchwood are done for the time being. Will this blog site go dormant till then? Hell no!!! There are still three series of Doctor Who and one series of Torchwood, and…I guess The Sarah Jane adventures to review. I’ll find a way, be it Youtube, or some other media viewing method to bring full reviews of these fantastic shows and bring those who may have been a bit in the dark over events thus far up to speed.

The rides not over yet folks, trust me.

Doctor Who S04E13-Journey's End

Having barely survived a surprise attack from the Daleks, The Doctor, Rose, Donna and Jack find themselves prisoners of Davors and his Dalek Empire. The Doctor’s remaining companions: Sarah Jane, Martha and a recently returned Mickey Smith and Jackie Tyler, each form alternative plans to save the Earth, but at equally devastating costs. The final showdown is set and more is at stake than ever before. Can The Doctor do what he does best only better? And when the dust finally settles what will the final cost of such a desperate victory bring for the last of the Time Lords?

Be warned…This is going to be a pretty lengthy entry with plenty of spoilers just because I can’t give a proper review without revealing a few things. Stop now for spoiler risk, otherwise continue reading.

Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s all take a quick second to give a round of applause for Russell T. Davies. I have said it before and I will most certainly say it again, he is the science fiction writer extraordinaire equivalent of Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek: The Next Generation) for London. A man who can skillfully and successfully tie together four years of mythos aplenty and give it a proper send off deserves all of the upmost respect and congrats.

I hope that fans of the series will feel as I did when I finished viewing this episode, greatly rewarded and very sad. “Journey’s End” marks the end of an era for the revived series. Enemies have been dealt with (for now), characters are moving on to better things (and back to their own spin offs), and others are, well, at least making it home alive in one piece.

Incase some were too blind to notice, in this epic two part finale plenty of characters from Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures got some screen time and all were given something important to do, be it taking the fight to the enemy head on (a la Jack, Gwen and Ianto) or giving their family silent support from the sidelines (a la Martha’s Mom and Jackie). Heck, even out beloved tin dog K9 makes a surprise return to help The Doctor.

Let me at least get this out of the way. I am so happy that David Tennant will be sticking around for more time traveling/space faring fun (he even says himself “Why change?”) He has truly become my Doctor in the last three years he’s played the role. Many may have their own favorite Time Lord persona (be it Jon Pertwee or Tom Baker amongst many, both good choices) but David Tennant has been from the beginning and always will be my most beloved of the ten Doctor’s thus far. And come on, any one who can play the same Doctor with two different personalities, I’m of course talking about the second Doctor Donna creates, has got to be quite the capable actor. Props David Tennant, props all around.

The reunion between The Doctor and Rose was as emotionally filled as we all expected it would be after the amount of time these star crossed lovers had been apart. What kind of sucks is the fact that at the end of the epic, they kind of finds themselves right back where they left off at the end of Series 2. I know there will be many of you who will be down right furious that Rose will not be staying with the real Doctor, but rather trapped again on a parallel Earth with the other, half human Doctor (I kind of fit this category). However, at least she is not without a Doctor she can live to the end of time with. And yes, we do get that little “Does he love her?” question cleared up. The answer…you better believe he does. Oh well, it was good to see Billie Piper back while it lasted.

And then there’s Donna. Donna. Donna. Donna. She finally gets to save the world and now she must forget everything she knows about The Doctor in order to save her own life. It’s a very, very sad ending for someone I never really thought I’d end up liking. We all thought of Donna as that loud mouth and extremely annoying tag along that wouldn’t shut up. But here, Davies does a complete 180 with her, giving Donna a strength she never even knew she had. I never thought I’d ever end up saying this, but she is going to be missed, especially by The Doctor whose look of sadness and despair is hard to look at because we are all feeling the same. Donna Noble, rock on girl.

Throw in the return of the Daleks and Davros (a villain I saw in one of the Tom Baker serials “Destiny of the Daleks”) and you’ve got one perfect recipe for awesomeness. Bringing Davros back cleared up some questions about the Time War such as The Doctor’s genocidal and war like actions which killed both the Time Lords and the Daleks at its climax. And here I thought that only The Master could really push The Doctor’s buttons, boy was I wrong. I haven’t seen The Doctor this pissed off EVER. Great stuff. I wouldn’t count The Daleks out at all. Maybe Davros, but the Daleks will always be around so long as Doctor Who continues to air. And maybe one day we will finally see the Time War itself and get the full mystery of its chaos cleared up at last. Steven Moffat, get to writing man.

I guess the big question now is, what next? Well: Jack will return to Gwen and Ianto (with Martha and Mickey as possible new teammates); Sarah Jane will go back to Luke and his friends; Rose, Jackie and the other Doctor are stuck on parallel Earth again; and The Doctor is on his own again, a position that he never wants to be in, but is. The series will continue in 2010, but don’t think that there’s going to be a big two year wait for more of The Doctor. I’m sure we’ll have Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures back eventually, but don’t count The Doctor out completely. You never know when he’ll turn up again.

Until then, thank you very much Russell T. Davies and crew for a truly amazing finale. Series 4 may have been a bit uneven throughout, but this series wrapped up with all barrels blazing. Again, everyone still reading, a round of applause please.

Next Time: The Cybermen are back…December 25, 2008. C ya at Christmas.