Thursday, November 22, 2007

SJ and company

Pottered round to Nimbos's last night for the final episode of Sarah-Jane. Won't spoil it for those watching on sorry old terrestrial. But wheee!

A few chums have dared speak the heresy that Sarah-Jane's adventures are more fab than those of Doctor Who. It's certainly been one of the best yes-really-for-kids shows I can think of. The skillful, unsettling inclusion of things like Alzheimer's that can't be cured or the ethics of killing children harks back to the issues-based kids' dramas I used to like. It's exciting, and afterwards it makes you think...

Some years ago, when I was vainly pitching ideas to CBBC (one of which was called "Life on Mars"), it was explained that the reason Grange Hill and Byker Grove rather lost their teeth was 'cos people realised older kids were watching EastEnders and Casualty anyway. The impression I got was that all kids TV should from thence be vapid and fluffy. And golly, it really isn't. It's a bit fab: telly for grown-ups for kids.

That's not to say that the series has Things To Say. It's just got more complexity and depth than it needs. There's also character development and back-stories that matter, so the more you watch the more the series rewards you. These things never get in the way of the monsters and jokes and quite spectacular cliffhangers, so the effect is that it's a far better, richer, cleverer, more involving series than we've really any right to expect.

The only grating thing (for me, anyway), is the bookending stuff where Sarah looks up at the night sky and tells us it's soooo amazing. It's the same kind of bludgeoning as from Dr Suresh in Heroes. Both shows aren't quite sure when to treat us as if we have brains and when to spell out the themes in words of one syllable.

Another highlight, and as much a part of the experience of watching it on Nimbos's Sky Plus box, is the continuity filling from CBBC's Ed Petrie and Oucho the cactus. They shred the pictures kids send in, they try to find Swan Cake for Queen Victoria, they asked Sarah-Jane her age... I wish Ed and Oucho could plug the gaps between all of TV. Like that night Tom Baker did BBC One in the style of Little Britain.

Oh. And of course [spoiler] could have [spoiler] any day - just like Daleks twatting the Trods.

The Dr is also much taken by Young Dracula, in which Dracula's pre-16 (and so pre-vampire) kids go to school with the son of Van Helsing. With its slayers and schoolwork it owes a pretty blatant debt to Buffy, but the mix of outright slapstick and smarter jokes means it works really well. She's also got a thing for the camp, vamping fellas.

1 comment:

leslie said...

Amen about the Suresh dreck on "Heroes." I only saw "The Invasion of the Bane" as I've been Over Here since the new SJA started. I have to say I wasn't too impressed, but I'd sure like to give the series proper a go.