Sunday, November 7, 2010

REVIEW: SJA, "Lost In Time"


It's not often you hear Primark (a "popular" shopping chain in the UK, for overseas readers) getting a mention in a science-fiction show but The Sarah Jane Adventures ventures where other shows fear to tread. This week's outing, Lost In Time, also manages to split the gang up and stick them in different time zones - such a simple and pleasing concept that one wonders why it isn't done more.


I'm not the only person enjoying the temporal jumping; on finding himself in 1942, Clyde (who now amusingly refers to himself as "Clydey" when performing a monologue) says, "Time travel is awesome. I gotta do it more often." But why all the timey~wimey goodness? Well, due to an incredibly economic pre~opening titles sequence, we meet The Shopkeeper - a Mr Benn~esque enigma who zapps the gang to various destinations in time to collect pieces of a substance known as "chronostein" (not sure of spelling).


If the story seems familiar then you're not wrong, it is slightly similar to The Key To Time from Doctor Who, as these pieces are powerful enough to change history with their chronon energy (Who fans young and old will prick up their ears at that mention). The eras that the SJ & Co. find themselves in reveal classic British fetishisms with past - a haunted house, the Royal Family and fighting Germans.


For me the most enjoyable segment is finding Clyde(y) battling Nazis in 1942. His self~assuredness and asides are hilarious, Daniel Anthony can really carry stories by himself in the most entertaining of ways.


It's a typical boy's action hero affair, recalling Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade, as he and his new chum Georgey Boy take on a bunch of bad guys. Although his perception of the Nazi directive is slightly simplictic (I don't think it was purely based on looks Clydey), the fact that writer Ruper Laight chooses to address notions of the "foreigner" and "negro" is to be applauded. Further plaudits go to Clyde's resourceful use of a mobile phone and his rallying, impassioned speech against his German oppressors. Fine, fine work.


Rani has time~slud (erm, past tense of time~slid?) back to the 1500s meeting real life but short~lived Queen, Lady Jane Grey. There's a solemnity to these moments as the story involves reality; history tells us that her time as Queen won't be long, much like her life (and Rani gets double points for knowing this). Likewise, Sarah Jane finds herself in an equally morbid setting - a "haunted" house in the 1800s where it turns out that future echoes are the cause of much pain.


And an appearance by X Factor "star" (I use the word incorrectly), Lucie Jones. Couldn't they have got a proper actress? Though she does play the ever~so~slutty and negligent babysitter to a tea. The Welsh wannabe (though what she wants to be is up for debate) is out~performed by an absolutely top~notch cast, particularly ghosthunter Emily who accompanies Sarah Jane on her search. A fine candidate for future cast member.


Also worthy of a mention is the aforementioned Shopkeeper, a wonderfully eccentric Tom Baker type who uses phrases like "tapestry of time", opens time windows with a gregarious move of the hands and calls his parrot, "The Captain". One dearly hopes that he pops up again in future episodes, a welcome addition for The Sarah Jane Adventures to say the least.


Matching the exceptional cast are the equally attractive production values. The direction (specifically in Sarah Jane's time with canted camera angles evoking the supernatural notions on display) and lighting (at its best during the scenes with Rani and the Queen) are a class act - gold stars to all!


Lost In Time is another remarkable story from this series, with a finale feel to match. Doctor Who fans, and I think a few watch SJA, will delight in the evocation of The Curse of Fenric and Ghost Light (though, in truth, this tale is better than both) and the wonderfully paced storytelling taking place; giving space for all the characters to breath.

The emotional end is perfectly pitched where we find the past cannot be changed, and nor should it be; it is to be remembered. This week, of all weeks, seems most fitting to celebrate lives lived and mourn lives lost.

BLOGTOR RATING 8/10

Thanks to the BBC

3 comments:

David Nagel said...

Thanks for the review. I've been looking forward to this one, if only to check out the Shop Keeper, who I always thought was Lenny Henry! LOL

How bad of me

And I knew I recognised the wee lass, and didn't realise it was the X Factor girlie

H*il Hitler!

Chris said...

This was a great episode. The shopkeeper was fantastic. I have a feeling he'll be back as a villain next season. He's too good a character to not bring back ... good or bad.

Angry Man said...

No Aliens!