After three weeks of very heavy continuity, a gazillion flashbacks, returning monsters and self-referencing up the wazoo (in a good way, mind, not in a debilitating Eighties Doctor Who style), we now get a very fresh and connection-free tale in the third series of The Sarah Jane Adventures.
Well, actually, that’s not quite true. Returning for a third time to the teatime Who spin-off is darling-of-a-certain-generation, Floella “The Guv’noress” Benjamin. She’s back as Professor Rivers of the Pharos Institute and has invited Sarah Jane and the gang (sans Luke) to a ‘haunted’ mansion (Hogwarts Tim Burton style, according to Clyde) in need of some ghost-busting. Problem is, ole SJ don’t believe in spooks…
The other problem comes in the shape of Toby, yet another boy genius with social/physical issues. Couldn’t the production team have been a bit more imaginative in casting? Anyway, ’tis only a minor issue in a superbly atmospheric outing for Bannerman Road’s finest. From the audacious spoken intro from the aforementioned Benjamin to her disappearance in the nursery (Play School was never like that) and subsequent reappearance over the radio (evoking Evanglista’s final ‘ghosting’ moments in Silence In The Library), The Eternity Trap has got it going on in the fright department.
However, it does make you wonder why the Beeb have decided to broadcast the story this week. The Eternity Trap would have been so much more suited to last week as it is absolutely packed full of eerie imagery such as the ‘dead’ kids and Erasmus Darkening (the villain of the piece, pictured above) popping up every now and again to scare the bejesus out of all and sundry. It would have been quintessential Halloween entertainment.
Writer Phil Ford has delivered quite a different tale to this year’s opener, Prisoner Of The Judoon, displaying his versatility with some style and, coupled with another fabulous bout of direction from Alice Troughton, The Sarah Jane Adventures has trumped up another delight that betrays its children-friendly transmission time.
Read our review of the last episode here.