PLEASE NOTE: This review includes SPOILERS
The population of the UK were feeling mighty generous on Friday as the BBC screened their annual telethon, Children In Need, but any charitable thoughts felt by this reviewer could not be extended to the final two-parter in this year’s series of The Sarah Jane Adventures.
It was a stinker.
The Gift saw the return of the Slitheen but it also saw the rare return of the ‘clunker’ for Sarah Jane and the gang. We’ve had three series worth excellent stories with only the odd duffer in there. And like last year’s finale, this one fails to entertain. In fact, it serves only to annoy.
I’ve nothing against the inhabitants of Raxicoricofallapatorius and have enjoyed their outings in both The Sarah Jane Adventures and Doctor Who but The Gift is another retread of a revisiting of the Slitheen and their naughty ways. Though this time we get introduced their relatives, the Blathereen, who are a ghastly shade of orange as opposed to the more familiar green.
At first we’re meant to think the Blathereen (voiced by Simon Callow and Miriam Margolyes) are benevolent but, as SJ & Co. suspect, something is rotten in the borough of Ealing. And that something is the titular gift left by the aliens – a plant known as the Rackweed.
The first part of the finale was painfully paced with interest lacking throughout – having a meal with two of the blighters does not an episode make. Sadly, the second part proved to be no more fruitful with some dire camera work thrown in for good measure. It’s a pity really because the cast deserve better and this series has seen some stout work from Lis Sladen, Tommy Knight, Daniel Anthony and Anjli Mohindra. To go out like this does not do them any kind of service.
But it wasn’t all bad…
Old-school Who fans may have pricked their ears hearing Perivale and it was a nice touch to have Ace’s home mentioned in the same breath as Donna Noble’s Chiswick. There was also a nod to another clunker, the Peter Davison atrocity Warriors Of The Deep. After the Blathereen had “farted themselves to death” (Clyde’s words not mine), Sarah Jane commented, a la The Fifth Doctor, “there should have been another way”.
That’s exactly what I was thinking, after such a good series with rip-roaring stories and tip-top production values – there should have been another way.
Read our review of the last episode here.