Sarah Jane Adventures: The Last Sontaran Part 1
Unlike Dan Quayle, I'm not about to call the whole thing off. Well, not entirely. And McCain's do make a lovely oven chip. Indeed, it was whilst I was tucking into my oven chips that I had to pause mid-bite whilst watching the first part of The Last Sontaran. Our Maria is leaving us. I wondered why she went through that litany of previous SJAs in the pre-titles and then Sarah's line, 'There's so much more to discover' was, it turned out, a bare-faced lie as, post titles, Maria's dad stuck the knife in.
Lucy freaks out as a BBC camera crew creeps up on her in a dark wood. Surely, director Joss Agnew isn't that frightening close up, in person?
There was a lump in my throat as her dad opened that letter (probably from RTD, telling Joseph Millson to pick up his P45 at the production office) but I had a little cough and discovered it was a bit of potato that was making my eyes water. It was a bit of a downer after that atmospheric opening at the Tycho radio telescope installation. You see I got all excited by those whizzing fluorescent blobs in the sky. Oh, oh, oh...a Sontaran skirmish with the Rutans! Continuity porn squee! No such bleeding luck. Just Ronan Vibert's Professor Skinner, doing a passable impression of Alan Rickman, getting taken over by Sontaran Kaagh whilst his daughter Lucy freaks out as a BBC camera crew creeps up on her in a dark wood. Surely, director Joss Agnew isn't that frightening close up, in person? He certainly made a fairly routine script from Phil Ford a lot perkier than it should have been.
Lis Sladen mentions something about 'Goblins Cocks'
The relationship between Clyde and Luke was nicely built on, starting at the top of the episode with the sweet banter over the computer game (the 'isn't historically accurate' dig at Star Wars was excellent) through to the scenes in the woods, the chase with the Sontaran and the discovery of the cloaked ship (great effects there from The Mill). Tommy Knight and Daniel Anthony are now well and truly established in the ensemble cast and Anthony's cheery playing of Clyde has now banished all memories of the dreadful Kelsey from Invasion Of The Bane. Mind you, we just breeze through that opening scene nicely when Lis Sladen mentions something about 'Goblins Cocks' and mouthfuls of my tea go spraying across the room. The other half sternly corrects me. It's Goblins Copse, apparently. But every time it's mentioned I have to utter a little guffaw. Off to Goblins Cocks, I mean, Copse for a mooch about and much moodiness with those swaying, wind blown trees and some heavy breathing peeping tom with fat hands salivating over the SJA gang. Filthy pervert.
There was a lot of standing or sitting around and gabbing in this which might have bored the kids to tears, all that daughter-dad bonding stuff between Skinner and Lucy, and the rather overplayed angst between a sullen Maria and her dad, lots of tapping at computers and looking at screens discussing lights in the sky and even the info-dump final encounter between Sarah and Kaagh. It's rather wordy. And Sarah-Jane's a right cold fish, all frosty denial, when Maria breaks the news of her departure to her. It's quite distressing and Lis and Yasmin are excellent in that scene together, with Maria wanting reassurance and Sarah refusing to give her any. The watcher in the woods turns out to be Predator...no...an invisible Sontaran with a snazzy CGI helmet. Saves him carrying it I suppose. But it's a neat little upgrade for our clone friends. It's all building up to that scene, the one you know is imminent. Sarah seeing the ship and meeting Kaagh. Except, haven't we already had the 'Sarah Jane meets old adversary' knicker wetting in her encounter with Davros? This isn't quite in the same league but it's a suitably dramatic moment emphasised by the fantastic crane shot of the ship and the locations.
I did get distracted by a daydream about just what kind of experiments Kaarg would perform on Clyde.
Kaagh's a slayer apparently, but I'm not sure da kids would get Clyde's Conan joke and it strikes me that it's in there for the dads pretending not to watch this over the top of their newspaper, and Anthony O'Donnell plays a bloody mean Sontaran and I'm loving that facial scar added to the prosthetics. Phil Ford rightly goes back to first principles and has a single Sontaran crash land on Earth and concoct a plan to wipe it out in retaliation for the humiliating defeat seen in Series 4 of the parent show. It's also just like The Time Warrior gene spliced with The Sontaran Experiment too and if you add that to the epic visual effects reprise from The Poison Sky and the crash landing scene it seems you can have your continuity cake and eat it. Yum. The showdown, where Kaagh reveals his dastardly plan, is, as I've said, a tad too talky but builds effectively towards the cliffhanger but I did get distracted by a daydream about just what kind of experiments Kaagh would perform on Clyde. There's a slash fiction opportunity begging there. Before I knew it, the titles came crashing in to break my reverie and end 27 minutes of pleasant, undemanding hokum that knocks Merlin even further into the particularly disastrous cocked hat it's rapidly become. More please.