The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Mad Woman In The Attic Part 1 review

A darker episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures, with a welcome dig into the world of Doctor Who too...

Please note: This review is free of spoilers. It’s for the episode screening on BBC1 on Thursday 22nd October.

Talking mirrors, a ‘haunted’ fairground, a creepy old man, boys who look like they’re all in the same boy band and a troublingly attractive female lead – this week’s first installment of The Sarah Jane Adventures has it all!

Right from the get-go the chills start with a scene from the future. Rani has become a crazy old woman in Sarah Jane’s attic and is visited by Adam, a young boy who would be best described as a better-looking Luke. We quickly learn that all is not well and that somewhere down the line Rani and the gang went their separate ways.

The tale really grabs you into the mystery and the average Who fan will be more than familiar with the vernacular Joe Lidster chooses in which to tell the story, quickly jumping between two time zones. Lidster, who has written audios for Doctor Who and televisual adventures for The Sarah Jane Adventures (the superb Mark Of The Berserker) and Torchwood, captures the mood perfectly in this very dark episode.

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This psychologically taut tale is matched by a rather eerie and beautiful score from series composer Sam Watts, work of a true craftsman. Even better is the way in which it’s used, sparsely and with a seductive subtlety.

Seductive could also describe the ‘villain’ of the piece, Eve. This bright red thing is straight out of The Lost Boys, mischievous, playful and, dare I say it, a little bit sexy. She’s played brilliantly by Eleanor Tomlinson and compliments Anjli Mohindra (Rani) exquisitely, exemplified during their conversation with the line “GSCEs and Judoon” – a marriage of the mundane and the miraculous.

It is a dark episode but there is, of course, the odd laugh from Clyde who teams up with Sarah Jane this time (mocking her age, of all things!) and there’s plenty of references to the mythology of the series (loads of flashbacks) and Doctor Who (Daleks and Cybermen get name-checked not to mention an intriguing back story for Eve’s alien race). Perhaps too much for your average viewer (though it didn’t bother me, I have to say) to fully grasp, though it would perhaps entice others into its history enough to buy a box set.

But one has to ask, two girls as the leads in a science-fiction story? Has the world gone flippin’mad?

Read our review of the last episode here.