Please note: This review is free of spoilers. It’s for the episode screening on BBC1 on Friday 23rd October.
And so the mystery of just what happened between Rani and Sarah Jane’s gang continues with the ‘villain’ of the piece, a redhead that goes by the name of Eve, creating havoc in a teenage-angsty kind of way everywhere she goes.
The tension and sense of the unwell continues and builds throughout the two-parter as our favourite inhabitants of Bannerman Road find themselves separated for much of the story – Luke hardly gets a, well, look-in. And this is one of the joys of the series. The cast are so strong that characters can dip in and out of the show to let others have the limelight, and here it belongs firmly to Anjli Mohindra (Rani).
The youngster handles the material with great sensitivity and maturity, hitting all the right moments with the appropriate tone. Series 2 did suffer from the loss of Maria Jackson and her family (especially her gorgeously self-obsessed mother) but Rani has firmly placed herself not so much as a replacement for Maria, but as an equal to her. (Though the same cannot be said for Rani’s parents, but that’s a matter for another time.) Mohindra is to be congratulated for filling the role so perfectly and is to be commended for superseding the boys’ antics.
Elsewhere in the cast, Brian “I’m married to Elisabeth Sladen, no really” Miller performs stoutly as a creepy old man, but there’s more to him than just that. In fact, there’s more going on in this story than at first or second glance would suggest.
In my review of the first part, I praised Joseph Lidster’s excellent writing and here, again, he expands on the first installment by concentrating on the theme of friendships, particularly teenage ones.
Worthy of plaudits, too, is director Alice Troughton, who never patronises the intended audience and creates a production so cinematic and damn intense that you will be wondering if, in fact, it’s Saturday night at 7pm and not teatime on a Friday; the production values are of a supreme value (though the inside of Eve’s spaceship did leave a little to be desired).
Again, the viewer is treated to a number of flashbacks and references to the series and its ‘parent’ show Doctor Who (see this story on just what they are – beware spoilers!) which add to the delight. The Sarah Jane Adventures is proving that it’s simply far too good for its allotted time slot and deserves a wider audience – and one feels that next week’s story, with an appearance from a certain Time Lord, may well just do that…
Read our review of the last episode here.