Doctor Who #827: Prisoner of the Judoon Part 1

"From what I've heard, their methods aren't softly softly."
TECHNICAL SPECS: All stories between this one and The Gift Part 2 are available on the Sarah Jane Adventures Season 3 DVD set. First aired Oct.15 2009.

IN THIS ONE... A Judoon comes to Earth chasing after a killer alien who can hide inside people. Sarah Jane, for example.

REVIEW: The new season starts with a gratuitous, but very pretty outer space effects sequence that really has very little to do with anything, and a voice-over from Sarah Jane explaining her Whovian antecedents and new role as a mother, etc. At the time, I probably felt encouraged that this, and the new weekly opener narrated by a fourth wall-breaking Clyde, meant they expected many new viewers to tune in thanks to Sarah's appearance in Journey's End and the Doctor's announced appearance a few stories hence. Watched is close proximity to similar voice-overs in previous seasons, it's all a bit tiresome. Still, things quickly get better.

The Judoon are a perfect alien for this show. A somewhat goofy anthropomorphic animal with a funny dialect and lots of comedy potential. A literal-minded policeman, Tybo could almost be in a pilot for his own kooky sitcom here. He's requisitioning police vehicles, ripping out non-essential parts, following the speed limit exactly... it's quite amusing. Now we see why they took Martha's hospital to the Moon - far fewer local rules to follow! Tybo makes a good foil for the kids. And there's more comedy besides thank to Gita trying to expand her business with the unwilling help of her husband, getting into trouble with the nanotech company Sarah recommended just to get her out of the way. It's obvious from the first scene there that the nanites would become important to the plot, and of course, they will be.

The episode doesn't rely entirely on the returning monster, of course. Tybo is looking for the criminal Androvax, who has a cool make-up and one of the better CG tongue effects I've seen. This slick and evil "Destroyer of Worlds" can jump into another person's skin, with variable effect. The little girl, for example, isn't much of a host because she just doesn't have the acting ability. Lis Sladen, on the other hand, manifests the monster's reptilian qualities with brilliance. She hasn't played a part this creepy since Eldrad had to live. And ordering Mr. Smith to self-destruct Bannerman Road? That's pure evil, and you almost think it could happen after Torchwood's Hub was destroyed so recently.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - A good deal of fun, but between all those villains and Sarah not acting like herself, there's little room for those smaller human moments the show is so good at usually.



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