I have to be honest, the final series of The Sarah Jane Adventures was not its finest (now, please bear in mind, I am a huge fan, so my opinion is informed and comes out of love for the show). Both the opening story, Sky, and the closer, The Man Who Never Was, weren’t the top~notch outings for SJ & Co I had become accustomed to over the years (you can find all my SJA reviews HERE). Indeed, just the previous season saw the show hit a very a palpable high with six very solid, not to mention excellent, stories in a row (beating Doctor Who for consistency in 2011).
The two aforementioned S5 tales felt very CBBC (a trait that The Sarah Jane Adventures had managed, for the most part, to avoid), coming off quite cheap and panto at times; though still enjoyable (just not as enjoyable). The finale did, however, have those wonderfully touching closing few minutes that brought more than a tear to Blogtor’s eyes. But I shan’t dwell on the negatives – the “middle” story, The Curse of Clyde Langer, was a shining example of just how good the series can be.
It’s a testament to the talents of the “youngsters” that they can regularly carry the series and this two~parter is about as good a demonstration of this as you will find. Daniel Anthony (Clyde) has been gifted some excellent material in the past (usually gags and sometimes more thoughtful material as in The Mark of the Berserker) but Curse is possibly his most complex story yet. The Sarah Jane Adventures does a fine line in urban horror and here we find Clyde ostracised from his beloved friends and family, all victims of a mysterious, totem pole~based curse.
But it’s not just the sense of the “other”, and the uncanny horror that comes with it, that makes it such a good story. Homelessness is tackled head on and handled with care and thought. Clyde’s initial use of the word “scrounger,” when asked about a girl on the street asking for money (which was a bit harsh), is modified by his qualifying statement, “But it’s probably not her fault”. Amidst the sci~fi and the fantasy the real world pokes through, causing a far greater emotional resonance than any Slitheen or Judoon could conjure. It’s by far the best of the fifth series and a candidate for my favourite ever from the show.
At a very nice price, and with an extra worth the cover price alone, The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Complete Fifth Series is certainly worth buying. Despite the slump in quality, overall, it does have one incredible story that warrants owning and revisiting time and again. Needless to say, the televisual landscape has lost an immensely popular, incredibly well~crafted and utterly loved series. A series that matched and, on more than one occasion, surpassed the quality of its source, Doctor Who.