K-9 and Company: A Girl’s Best Friend by Terence Dudley; dir. John Black (BBC, 1981) A bizarrely misjudged attempt at a Doctor Who spin-off. Elisabeth Sladen and Ian Sears do well but the opening credits scream allegiance to Metal Mickey and this synth-schlock carries over into the incidental music, flambéing all menace from the Devil’s End plot.
The Sarah Jane Adventures, Series 5 (CBBC, 2011) An emotional half-season, cut short by the loss of Elisabeth Sladen. While the first story carries on the usual SF adventuring, all three instalments—and in particular the second (‘The Curse of Clyde Langer’)—show the programme willing to explore darker territory.
The Sarah Jane Adventures, Series 4 (BBC, 2010) Series Four side-lines Luke but keeps up an imaginative procession of Earth-threatening plot lines and (visually resplendent) villains. Daniel Anthony (Clyde) and Anjli Mohindra (Rani) take centre stage with sufficient aplomb to give hope for the show’s continuation beyond Elisabeth Sladen’s passing.
The Sarah Jane Adventures, Series 2 (CBBH, 2008) With the arrival of Anjli Mohindra as Rani, the Sarah Jane Adventures survives its first major cast change and goes from strength to strength as a Doctor Who surrogate. By series two the programme has gained sufficient confidence to utilise recurring adversaries.
The Sarah Jane Adventures: Deadly Download by Jason Arnopp; audiobook read by Elisabeth Sladen (AudioGO, 2010) Cyber safety gets the alien treatment as the internet paves the way for mind control (through curiously unnecessary hardware reassembly). Elisabeth Sladen again reads with distinction but this audio adventure still comes across as a rather lightweight observance of the show’s formula.
The Sarah Jane Adventures: Wraith World by Cavan Scott & Mark Wright; audiobook read by Elisabeth Sladen (AudioGO, 2010) Elisabeth Sladen does her best, and the premise of ‘fiction writing reality’ is one young adults will enjoy, but it’s difficult to take seriously a worm-horde-wielding villain who considerately puts his attacks on hold whenever the protagonists want to talk things…
The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Glittering Storm by Stephen Cole (BBC, 2007); audiobook read by Elisabeth Sladen Elisabeth Sladen doesn’t so much read as act, her performance as Sarah Jane elevating this otherwise somewhat middling story of alien imperilment. Whatever the gold is being used for this time, however squidgy and one-dimensional the adversary, Sladen remains the consummate companion-turned-lead. …