THE SARAH JANE ADVENTURES
(2007-2011)

Elisabeth Sladen ("Sarah Jane Smith"), Tommy Knight ("Luke Smith"), Daniel Anthony ("Clyde Langer"), Yasmin Paige ("Maria Jackson", Series 1-2), Anjli Mohindra ("Rani Chandra", Series 2-5), Sinead Michael  ("Sky Smith", Series 5).

With: Joseph Millson ("Alan Jackson", Series 1-2)
, Juliet Cowan ("Chrissie Jackson", Series 1-2),  Ace Bhatti ("Haresh Chandra", Series 2-5),  Mina Anwar ("Gita Chandra", Series 2-5), Gary Beadle ("Paul Langer", Series 2), Jocelyn Jee Esien ("Carla Langer", Series 2, 4-5)

And Alexander Armstrong (voice of Mr. Smith), John Leeson (voice of K9)

     In 2007, Elisabeth Sladen, famed for her role as Third and Fourth Doctor companian Sarah Jane Smith in the classic Doctor Who series, guest-starred in the Modern Series episode "School Reunion". Her appearance as Sarah Jane Smith, along with the famous robot dog K9, made it clear to anybody who hadn't figured it out already that the New series and the Classic series were all part of the same show. That the episode itself was one of the best of the season was a plus, with the entire main cast at their best and featuring a superb villainous turn by Anthony Stewart Head.

     Pleased with the episode, show runner Russell T Davies created The Sarah Jane Adventures, a spinoff series made for younger viewers which once again featured Lis Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith. The series took place just after Smith met The Doctor again in "School Reunion", an event which reinvigorated journalist Smith's spirit of adventure. Although she tried to keep her life as an alien tracker a secret, it wasn't long before she had a posse of young followers, starting with Maria Jackson (played by Yasmin Paige), a new girl in the neighborhood who soon becomes Sarah Jane's most trusted friend, and Clyde Langer (played by Daniel Anthony), a local schoolmate who befriends Maria and Sarah Jane. In the trio's first adventure together, Sarah Jane and her young friends save a young lab-created boy genius, whom Sarah Jane christens "Luke" and adopts as her own son.

     Also part of the team is Mr. Smith, a supercomputer built into Sarah Jane's attic. Go up to the attic, say "Mr. Smith, I need you!" and suddenly ridiculous fanfare plays as Mr. Smith - really just a huge computer and screen - pops out of the wall.

Above: Yasmin Paige as Maria, Tommy Knight as Luke, Daniel Anthony as Clyde and Anjli Mohindra as Rani.

     Early in the second series, Maria left for the U.S. with her father, who had taken a job in Washington D.C. Taking her place in the series was new neighborhood gal Rani Chandra (played by Anjli Mohindra).

     Unlike its parent progam Doctor Who or Davies' other spinoff Torchwood, there was little violence or death in The Sarah Jane Adventures. Adventure was the key. The stories were fairly simple, fun and moved quickly, as each week the Smith gang battled some new alien intent on destroying the Earth. Often, the villains were leftovers from Doctor Who stories, such as The Slitheen (from "Aliens of London") and the Judoon (from "Smith and Jones"). Of course, there were also new villains, such as the creepy Trickster, who, living up to his name, tricked people into doing things they would normally not do.

     There were several interesting special guest stars in the series. In 2008's "Enemy of the Bain", Nicholas Courtney reprised his role as The Brigadier one last time. In 2009's "The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith", David Tennant appeared for the last time in his reign as The Doctor before turning over the Doctor role to Matt Smith. 2010's "The Death of the Doctor" featured not only Matt Smith as The Doctor but also Katy Manning as Jo Grant (now Jones), former companion to Jon Pertwee's Third Doctor. Bradley Walsh, who years later would become a companion to Jody Whittaker's Doctor, played a villain in 2008's "Day of the Clown". And if you're a fan of K9, he occasionally pops up too.

     For five years Russell T Davies and company rolled out new seasons of the show, with fun stories like "The Empty Planet" in which Clyde and Rani find themselves as the last two people on Earth (and wouldn't you know it, they are starting to have feelings for each other!) and the outstanding "Lost in Time", which had Sarah Jane, Clyde and Rani all sent back into different times to find artifacts that would save the world from total destruction. Three distinct stories intercut as Sarah Jane tracked down ghosts in the the early 1900's, Clyde battled Nazi's in 1941, and Rani became a lady's maid to Lady Jane Grey, the so-called "Nine Day Queen of England". Complete with a character realizing she could do nothing to save someone from death, and a timey-wimey ending Steven Moffat would have been proud of, "Lost in Time" was arguably the best episode of the entire series.

     In April of 2011, Elisabeth Sladen died of pancreatic cancer. In the fall of the same year, the final three Sarah Jane stories aired. Fittingly, they were all enjoyable. But that was it for the series. With Sladen gone, the show was over.

     An entertaining, light-hearted show, The Sarah Jane Adventures is one I like more than Davies' more adult Torchwood and certainly more than Steven Moffat's Class.

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""13 Bannerman Road is where Sarah Jane Smith lives. and it's home
to things way beyond your imagination.
There's an extra-terrestrial supercomputer in the wall,
a genetically-engineered boy genius in the attic,
a schoolgirl investigator across the road,
and a whole universe of adventures right here on the doorstep." "
- Clyde Langer