Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Just as Doctor Who routinely recycles the same structure each season, I have been a tad disappointed to perceive season two of The Sarah Jane Adventures also recycling the same structure, together with the one from their own first season.

Therefore, before viewing the final story, I had little doubt that it would feature the return of the main villain from story one (Kaagh), together with the main villains from season one. (either the Slitheen or Miss Wormwood) If I'd been particularly observant, then I'd have also foreseen the second faction's unexpected return in the 'cliffhanger' at the end of the first episode.

Just for once, I shall skip dwelling upon the presence of a zombie (or character-who-is-not-under-the-control-of-who-they-appear-to-be) in all six stories, because, y'know, to mention it yet again might likewise sound a bit repetitive.

Following a formula doesn't generally leave much room for surprises...

Partly as a result of these things, I have found season two of The Sarah Jane Adventures to have fallen short of the higher-standard set by its preceding series, but not by that much.

After a strong start with The Last Sontaran and The Day Of The Clown, the remainder of the series never quite got it all together again. Three of the other stories feature a terrific part one, followed by a much thinner part two, while The Mark Of The Berserker was a dud throughout.

That's a total of seven good episodes, and five duds. Overall, a good average.

Despite the show's title, in the first season the lead character was arguably Maria, so I was pleased to see that her writing-out at the start of this one was handled so well. It's not simply a case of new girl Rani being another good brainy character who attends Maria's old school and lives in Maria's old house. It's also the way in which Maria left.

She made one exit story, and was then acknowledged throughout the rest of the series in simple cameos and offhand lines of dialogue. The characters remember her just as we do – great. This is much better than the way TV shows so often sweep the departing character under the carpet, hoping that we won't miss them. The characters here miss Maria along with us. There's even been an allusion to her returning for at least one appearance in season three. I look forward to that!

With it, I do hope that SJA manages to regain the ground that it's lost this year. There is some absolutely terrific writing on the show (see those five out of six part ones that I mentioned above!), but this has been sadly cancelled-out by the first-draft part twos and Mark Of The Berserker.

Next season? Well, same again I assume.


Stories this season:

The Last Sontaran
The Day Of The Clown
Secrets Of The Stars
The Mark Of The Berserker
The Temptation Of Sarah Jane Smith
Enemy Of The Bane

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