‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’: ‘Sky (Part 2)’ review

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In the second part of Series 5’s opening story, Sarah Jane and her Scooby gang continue to protect the life of an innocent – the fact that by doing so, they save the lives of everyone on the planet being entirely incidental.

It seemed likely that Episode 2 of Sky – so named after the newest cast member – would have a twist reveal that those who we’ve assumed to be the villains would turn out to be the good guys, and vice versa. But in the event, it’s a lot more subtle than that. But then, for all its broad strokes and bombast, The Sarah Jane Adventures has always been surprisingly subtle.

While the underlying theme of this adventure is quite clear – growing up into a teenager can be an explosive time when you feel you want to destroy the world – there are other parallels here, particularly when viewed through the prism of this summer’s riots: just because a young kid feels that they have no choice but to lash out and cause pain, it doesn’t always follow that they have to keep to the path that life seems to have chosen for them. People – whoever they are, wherever they are, can still change for the better. This, more than anything is a story that argues for nurture over nature. And whose life wouldn’t be better if nurtured by Sarah Jane Smith?

And, of course, it’s Lis Sladen’s show. While the kids (all great) might have slightly more screen time, this is all about Sarah Jane; a brave, dynamic woman facing off to an impossible army (or two) with absolute independence and passion.

This being her show, there’s no indication that she’ll call the TARDIS or UNIT hotlines. Obviously there are more practical reasons for that, but within the confines of the story itself, it marks up Sarah Jane as a resourceful hero, relying only on herself and her wit, saving the world almost daily from unimaginable menaces without reward or recognition. In this, then, she carries the spirit that many fans would like to see re-instated into the character of The Doctor himself.

Painfully aware that these are the last few episodes left, there’s always that fear that we might be landed with a couple of average episodes to tarnish the legacy as we reach the finale. It’s comforting to note, then, that even the arguably average episode of SJA (which, admittedly, this could well be) continues to be remarkable and superior kids’ telly.

Aired at 5.15pm on Tuesday 4th October 2011 on CBBC.

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