Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

A kid at school finds an ancient talisman, and uses it to control his classmates, effectively turning them all into z...

Then he controls his teacher, turning him into a zom...

When Rani comes upon it, (they so wanted to call this The Mark Of Rani) she uses it to order her dad about, making him a mindless drone with no free will of his own, in fact one might even go so far as to call him a zomb... oh I just can't bring myself to type the word yet again...

(deep breath) Yes, once again, for the fourth story out of four this season, we're confronted with zombies.

I don't belieeeeeeve it.
You have to feel particularly sorry for the actor with the job of playing Rani's dad, who's also the school headmaster. He must have thought that his dual-purpose in the series would lend his character terrific depth. Instead though, he's had to find the motivation to play a guy who in recent weeks has:

Zombie pupils, under Odd Bob's control
... witnessed several of his pupils becoming zombies (in The Day Of The Clown)...

Gita zombie, under the ancient Lights' control
... seen his wife become a zombie, followed by eleven-twelfths of the rest of the world, including eleven-twelfths of his pupils again (in Secrets Of The Stars)...

Haresh, under Rani's control
... become a zombie himself in this story at the hands of his own daughter, and THEN...

Haresh, under Clyde's dad's control
become one again later on at the behest of Clyde's dad.

I really can't see that actor wanting to stay on for season 3. Where's the range?

This story certainly has a different feel throughout. Partly this is because, for different reasons, Sarah and Gita are both out of town for most of the duration, so it's left to the kids to solve the puzzle on their own. But I can't help wondering if the rest of the cast all had trouble with that motivation thing as well...

When Clyde's dad walks back into his life, and it's actually coincidence, Clyde betrays Sarah by taking him into her empty house and showing him through her stuff. I can make-up some reasoning for this on Clyde's behalf, but that's really the job of the storyteller.

When Clyde's dad gets the medallion and the kids want to stop him, he makes no effort to protect himself, eg. by making them forget that he has it. That doesn't really ring true either.

But then, that's because none of them makes any effort to get the thing back off him in the first place. Y'know, quickly cover his mouth and rip it off him while he's looking the other way, that sort of thing. It's fine if our heroes are too apprehensive of the Berserker's power or something, but no-one tries, or even suggests, anything.

Part two progresses at a leisurely pace, with some cracking direction, and an ever-growing number of zombies, most of whom will also have been zombies in last week's story too.

Rani meets Maria (with the trademark abandonment of urgency to discuss 'cool' stuff), and Alan hacks into the database of the "Unified Intelligence Taskforce".

Alan says "I thought we'd left all this behind us." He's forgotten eleven-twelfths of the world becoming zombies in the previous story, probably including him, Maria and most of the people they know. (All right, I guess I should stop going on about that)

But then it all literally sinks again at the end, when Clyde actually decides to throw the über-dangerous medallion away in the river for the next person to find and endanger the planet with.

The Sarah Jane Adventures, for all its faults, usually scores higher than Doctor Who in terms of looking after its regular characters' reactions to the crazy events that they find themselves in.

I do hope this thinness isn't the shape of things to come.

NEXT WEEK: Rani's dad gets taken over by, oh, I don't know, his dog.

I do not wish to be a dog.

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