Sarah Jane comes of age
The Sarah Jane Adventures is the second Doctor Who spin-off series in as many years and it debuted on SciFi Channel last night. I’ve been enamored with its star, Elisabeth Sladen, since the 1970s, when she originally played the Doctor’s companion Sarah Jane Smith opposite both Jon Pertwee (Doc #3) and Tom Baker (Doc #4). Two years ago, Sladen reprised the role in the charming Who episode “School Reunion.” And now she’s got this series of her own. After watching the 90-minute premiere, which I think was made up of three half-hour episodes, I’ve signed on. And I’m probably here for the duration. Sarah Jane skews to a younger audience than Doctor Who, which skews to a younger audience than Torchwood, the other Who spin-off. However, it’s charming, it’s fun, and it’s got a good sense of humor about itself. Sure, Sarah’s three sidekicks will take some getting used to — one of the kids is particularly annoying — but Sladen plays her role with all the enthusiasm she used to give it three decades ago. And you know what? At age 60, she’s every bit as adorable as she was in 1975.
The fourth season of the “modern” Doctor Who premieres on SciFi next Friday night. Sarah Jane Adventures is anchored in the slot preceding it. That’s an especially family-friendly block of sci-fi viewing.