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Review: The Sarah-Jane Adventures: The Mad Woman in the Attic

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We don’t know how, but they’ve done it: Following Elizabeth Sladen’s appalling ‘Possessed’ performance last week, they’ve managed to find an equally rubbish monster this week, and topped the opener’s Androvax for ‘Least Convincing Monster’.

This review is bound to be controversial with SJA fans, as some could say that the character of Eve, a woman in red face paint with dyed hair who grins a lot, is a great attempt at a deep, sophisticated character, and manages something not often achieved on Children’s TV. However, our argument goes like this: Both Torchwood and Doctor Who have managed to create compelling characters, worlds and can both create and dispose of a well-made deep, sophisticated character week in, week out. So why can’t SJA? It’s the same group of people, but they seem to see the ‘Children’s’ target audience as an excuse to not put good quality guest actors in the mix. Can’t they try to put some effort into it?

The ending was dull this week, although the return of K9 –While forced- cheered us up after the terribly clichéd “But we’re your friends!!”. It was a story about friendship, and the importance of being with others. Kids, if you want a tale about the company of your pals, watch Toy Story. It’s a well-acted film, witty, and not marred by a poor alien character.

We couldn’t help but feel how much better the story could have been if they didn’t force feed spaceships to people. It must have been a fantastic idea on the drawing board- Creepy theme park, lots of Rani, creepy old man, a plot twist at the end, the return of K9 and an interesting narrative viewpoint. But SJA United managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory once more, failing to finish every attack they created, making this their third straight home loss.

The said interesting narrative viewpoint is the idea the entire tale is told by Rani, 50 years into the future, when Luke, Clyde and Sarah-Jane have all died, and even Mr Smith has stopped working. She’s living on her own, until a boy breaks in to try and figure out the mystery of the Mad Woman from Bannerman Road.

This is by some way the best thing about the episode, and gives an otherwise lifeless story an extra element that makes it far more interesting, especially as we wonder what the ‘Mistake’ Rani made was that lead to her being in such a state.

The direction is superb, with the well-shot camera angles managing to hide much of the sub-standard performances being given by the likes of Eve and Sarah-Jane. But then, what would you expect of Alice “Blink” Troughton?

The most annoying thing about The Mad Woman in the Attic isn’t Eve’s cringe-worth grinning, Clyde’s one-liners (Which begin to get older and older every week) or even the fact that they’ve left Tommy Knight’s Luke entirely out of it, bar one or two scenes in which all he does is laugh and shout. It’s that so much effort went into the planning; it seems nobody thought about the execution. Two distinctly average episodes in, and we’re beginning to hope that David Tenant isn’t wasting his time by popping up next week...

Written by: Joseph Lidster
Directed by: Alice Troughton
Produced by: Nikki Smith
Starring: Elizabeth Sladen, Tommy Knight, Anjli Mohindra, Daniel Anthony
Guest Starring: Souad Faress, Toby Parkes, Eleanor Tomlinson

TR

Review by TR

6

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