-->
Reviews

'The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Complete Third Season': A Little Something for Little Whovians

This Doctor Who spin-off aimed at younger kids takes viewers back to13 Bannerman Road for more mysteries involving extraterrestrial action and interstellar sleuthing.


The Sarah Jane Adventures

Distributor: BBC
Cast: Elisabeth Sladen, David Tennant, Tommy Knight, Daniel Anthony, Anjli Mohindra
Network: BBC
UK release date: 2010-11-01
US release date: 2011-01-04
Website
Amazon

This third series The Sarah Jane Adventures, the Doctor Who spin-off aimed at younger kids takes viewers back to13 Bannerman Road for more mysteries involving extraterrestrial action and interstellar sleuthing.

This time, Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen), her genetically engineered teenage son, Luke (Tommy Knight), and their neighbor Clyde (Daniel Anthony) are joined full-time by newest cast member, Rani (Anjli Mohindra). Rani's a bit more interesting as a character than her predecessor, Maria (Yasmin Paige, who left the series during the second season). Rani's also the one that ends up causing a lot of the trouble this season. Much of this is due to the fact that she wants to be a journalist, "like Sarah Jane". The only problem with that is that someone forgot to explain the difference between "journalist" and "sneaky, dishonest trespasser" or "bumbling snoop". I can't tell you how many times I worried I was watching a Nancy Drew mystery re-written to feature sonic lipstick or an episode of Scooby Doo with K-9. That's my only real problem with these stories—that Sarah Jane, as a investigative journalist, never writes anything.

As fantasy adventures, however, these stories are quite good, if a bit too simple sometimes. Kids will probably love them. Many adults will too, if they are willing to look past the tendency for the explanations to be a bit dumbed-down in comparison to Doctor Who, which—lest we forget—began as a children's show, too. The first two episodes of season three (all stories are two-parters), "Prisoner of the Judoon", feature everyone's favorite rhino-faced officers of galactic law, as well as a shape-shifting, body-stealing, reptilian villain. "The Madwoman in the Attic" envisions a future where Rani has inadvertently lost the others and has grown old alone because she took her friends for granted. It's a bit heavy-handed with the lesson, which is unusual in the Sarah Jane universe, but it does feature some excellent alien makeup.

The next story is the excellent "The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith". These are the episodes that feature the final scenes David Tennant was to film as the tenth Doctor. Sarah Jane has fallen in love and is to be married when her wedding is disrupted by the malevolent Trickster, who traps the bride and groom in time while trapping the Doctor, Luke, Clyde and Rani in another moment in time. It's fun to see the Doctor in this environment, because although I'm sure the temptation was there, not once does this story become the Doctor's. It's even shot in a way that makes it clear, as does Tennant's performance, that this is about these kids and Sarah Jane, and he's only there to help. He's the companion in this scenario. And he's a brilliant one.

After that, the episodes lose a little punch, but they are still fun. "The Eternity Trap" finds the team investigating a haunted house. Mona Lisa's Revenge sees the masterpiece come to life during a school trip and wreak havoc in a hilariously chav accent. The last story, "The Gift" brings back a favorite, the Slitheen, for a dinner party with Sarah Jane, no less.

The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Complete Third Season includes all 12 episodes on two discs. There is also a short excerpt from the audio book The Sarah Jane Adventures: The White Wolf, read by Elisabeth Sladen, but it's a bit of a disappointment because the menu doesn't make clear that it's only an excerpt (though the packaging does call it a "clip"). It's essentially just an advertisement for the audiobook poorly disguised as a bonus feature. Otherwise, there aren't any extras on this set, which seems strange given the variety of features found on the previous two seasons' DVDs and on the Doctor Who sets.

Despite some shortcomings, if you're the show's target demographic, or the parent of young children, The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Complete Third Season is good fun. If you're not, it's still perfectly pleasant, light, sci-fi fun, and you get Tennant's final filmed scenes as The Doctor.

6
Music

The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less
Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

Keep reading... Show less
7

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image