Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sarah Jane Adventures - "Lost in Time" (Parts 1 & 2)

Spoiler Level: High

Another fine outing from Sarah Jane Advent- ures.  This time our intrepid band of alien hunters are lured to a curiosity shop, run by a charming yet mysterious Shopkeeper who knows everything about them and has a parrot named "Captain."  The Shopkeeper sends Sarah Jane and her companions (I still get a kick out of saying that) into three separate time zones, with a mission for each of them to retrieve a piece of "Chronosteen," an item hiding there as something native to that time zone.  It's a premise used in Doctor Who in both the Key to Time story arc and "The Keys of Marinus" that always works well for me, and it works just as well here.

Rani is sent to 1553 and meets up with Lady Jane Grey, the "Nine Days' Queen."  Clyde is sent to 1941, during World War II.  And Sarah Jane is sent to 1889 where she meets up with a lady ghost hunter.  Rani and Clyde's stories are extremely enjoyable; I've always been a fan of the historical stories on Doctor Who.  Not so much the modern historical stories (with the wonderful exception of "Vincent and the Doctor,") becuase they've always felt the need to add an alien or a monster or some other science fiction element.  I'm more of a fan of the classic Hartnell historicals, because shows like "The Aztecs," "The Romans" and "The Reign of Terror" showed there was plenty of danger to be had in history itself.  And that's exactly what happens in Rani's arc here; the Chronosteen element is barely a part of the story, and it's more about Rani being caught up in the events of Queen Mary I retaking her thrown from Lady Jane Grey's perspective.  History tells us that Lady Jane Grey was executed, which gives us the tragedy of what's about befall this likeable young queen, as well as the threat that as her handmaiden, Rani will be executed as well.

Clyde's story is a little more of a modern historical, as it revolves completely around the Nazis using their piece of Chronosteen to knock out the British radar and stage an invasion, and with the Chronosteen giving them the ability to change history, it just might work.  And Sarah Jane's isn't an historical story at all but more of a time travel story, where she learns the "ghosts" that the ghost hunter Emily Morris is investigating are actually future echoes of a tragic event that hasn't happened yet.

All three stories are enjoyable in their own right, as each member secures their piece of Chronosteen before it's too late.  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, if they don't gather them in time, the entire world will be sucked through The Eye of Harmony the Time Window.  So okay, a lot of the elements of the story have been used in Doctor Who before, but technically it's all new to Sarah Jane Adventures, and I'm willing to be more forgiving when it's done in an interesting manner.  Rani's friendship with Lady Jane Grey is great, Clyde standing up to the Nazis is downright inspiring, and Captain & the Shopkeeper were interesting characters that I'd love to see more of, so I can forgive any recycling going on here.

One last thing I have to give this story kudos for:  when Rani was sent to 1553 and Clyde to 1941, I was sure that it wasn't going to come up that neither one was white, which lets face it, for the times they were in is something that would have come up.  But I was completely and totally wrong; when she first arrives, Lady Mathilda asks how Lady Jane could put her trust "in this... foreigner," and one of the Nazis derisively calls Clyde a "negro."  And in both cases Clyde and Rani used it as an opportunity to put those people in their place.  It was really well done, making it both more historically accurate and giving show a great opportunity to fight against racism.  Major kudos to writer Rupert Laight!

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