Sarah Jane Adventures: Sky Review

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Clint Hassell reviews Sky, the opening story from Series 5 of The Sarah Jane Adventures.

I love The Sarah Jane Adventures just as much as Doctor Who or Torchwood – maybe more, since I find The Sarah Jane Adventures to be the most consistent in its level of quality. I was both excited and nervous to see the debut episode of Series 5, entitled “Sky,” and was happy that, despite the death of lead actress Elisabeth Sladen last April, nothing on-screen has changed. From the opening and the credits sequence to Sarah Jane’s wardrobe and narration, Series 5 feels just like what has come before. I will admit, I got a lump in my throat the first time we saw Sarah Jane, particularly because she just misses telling Luke that she loves him – he is gone before she can tell him how much he is loved – a moment that hit a little too close to home considering Ms. Sladen’s death. I expect many more unexpected moments like that before the series finale.

The latest episode serves to introduce Sky, a replacement character for Luke, much like Rani replaced Maria in Series 2. The similarities between Luke and Sky are very apparent – “Sky” is similar to “Invasion of the Bane,” with the nuclear power plant standing in for the Bubble Shock! factory, and one lab-grown kid with special abilities taking the place of another. At one point in the episode, Sky is even dressed in Luke’s old clothes. Much like Luke, Sky does not yet comprehend social customs; her not understanding promises was clever and funny. While I want to like Sky, I do wonder how the dynamic of the show will change since she is a full five years younger than Rani and Clyde. Also, I wonder if Sky still has some of her electrokenetic abilities.

I liked how the episode used Sky’s arrival to teach several important lessons in a way that didn’t feel preachy or obvious. This has always been a strength of The Sarah Jane Adventures. Sarah Jane mentions the family she has created – not just Luke and Sky, but also Clyde and Rani – showing that a “family” can be comprised of all the people you love, and who love you, even if you’re not related. This contrasts Miss Myers, who only valued Sky as a daughter because Sky was created to be a powerful doomsday weapon. I liked the discussion that weapons are bad, and that killing is always wrong, but that Sky was not necessarily evil just because she was created to be a weapon that kills. I thought it was very natural to show that a 12-year-old – or is that “12-hour-old”? – would be questioning her place in the world and asking, “What am I?” Sky gets one of the best lines in the episode when she states that she is willing to risk danger and return to the power plant to ask Miss Myers to defuse her bomb capabilities. “Mr. Smith said I could die anyway,” she retorts, “I don’t want to be a bomb.” The war between Metalkind and Fleshkind really showed how pointless war can be; it‘s silly to fight someone just because they look different than you. (Did anyone else think that the Metalkind looked like Batman?) I love that Sarah Jane was optimistic that she could convince Miss Myers that there was “another way, a peaceful way” to end the centuries-long conflict.

Speaking of Miss Myers: she looks like a Swedish supermodel, and wears a leather corset, a floor-length fur coat, and stiletto heels. Where is she from again? Planet Fabulous? Surely she is a regal queen on her planet, as her makeup was too flawless for her to be a battlefield warrior! At first, I found Miss Myers’ mind control to be a bit too convenient, but it actually makes sense once you consider that Fleshkind can control electricity. Since the brain is a collection of neurons that fire electrical impulses, it seems reasonable that, with practice, Miss Myers could make someone lose consciousness or even control someone’s actions. Electricity-controlling powers would definitely come in handy in a fight with a metal-based enemy.

I love that Mr. and Mrs. Chandra brought Sarah Jane flowers to celebrate (baby) Sky’s arrival – a nod to Gita owning Bloomin’ Lovely floral shop – and I thought it was hysterically funny that they kept the flowers when they realized that Sky was not a baby. Haresh gives the bouquet to Sky and Gita actually takes it out of her hands! Seeing Professor Rivers pretending to use a sonic lipstick was cute too. It’s interesting that adults can be a source of humor in children’s shows, just as children are often the comedic characters in adult programs.

How cool was Rani’s mention of the Doctor? Also, I loved the scene where Sarah Jane finds baby Sky on her doorstep at 5:37 AM. It is notoriously difficult time to film outdoors at dawn, but this scene looks breathtakingly beautiful.

My one issue with this episode: I find it implausible that Clyde and Rani could figure out how to shut down a nuclear reactor simply by looking at two joysticks and a rainbow-colored computer graphic. Even worse, the solution unrealistically mirrored a video game. One of the things I’ve always respected about The Sarah Jane Adventures is that the defeat of the enemy threat isn’t usually tied to a teen interest or issue. For example, music-fearing aliens don’t attack the very week we see Clyde teaching Luke to play the guitar.

Also, if the presence of the Metalkind is what primed Sky’s doomsday capabilities, then why didn’t Sky prime herself in Sarah Jane’s garden?

Looking to the future, while it’s awesome when established characters reappear, I am hoping that we do not see the Captain and the Shopkeeper appear only to magically resolve dangling plot threads. Hopefully, the writers have a long-term plan and any future appearances will tie together a larger storyline.