Doctor Who #894: Sky Part 1

"I practically opened the door and there she was, like she'd fallen out of the sky."
TECHNICAL SPECS: All episodes from this one to The Man Who Never Was Part 2 are available in the Sarah Jane Adventures Season 5 DVD set. First aired Oct.3 2011.

IN THIS ONE... An alien baby left on Sarah Jane's doorstep is chased by a metal man and an electric woman.

REVIEW: The next week of reviews is both exciting and sad for me, because one the one hand, I've never seen this season of Sarah Jane Adventures, and on the other, I know it's the last half-season produced before Lis Sladen passed away. So it's all rather bittersweet. Sky opens as an SJA season usually does, with a voice-over from the First Lady of the Whoniverse, setting the stage and getting us excited about the universe's possibilities. There's even some gratuitous outer space CGI in there. A metal man falls out of the sky like a meteor - a cool alien design - and at Bannerman Rd that night, not coincidentally, a baby with electrical powers is left at Sarah's doorstep. As with the best SJA's scripts, events coincide with one of the characters' anxieties - Sarah is feeling blue about Luke being away from home and growing up (because yes, the kids are ALLOWED to grow up, just look at Rani's more adult look), so a new child is introduced into her life.

The "child of destiny" story is one this show has done before - in The Empty Planet, for example, but Luke himself is an example - but the child has never been so young. It's interesting that Sarah doesn't know how to handle a baby and doesn't find them particularly cute. She's a woman who didn't feel the drive to start a family, and has only ever been motherly to teenagers. If we accept the future as seen in The Mad Woman in the Attic, Rani will be a good mother/grandmother, but she's quick to leave with Sarah Jane to investigate matters and leaves Clyde, the "natural", with the baby. In a world that exalts intelligence as a way to solve problems, Clyde could have been held back as a kind of dunsel, more troublesome than helpful. But showrunner Phil Ford seems to have great affection for him, and it means we do too. His brand of intelligence is social, and his heart (more than his comic relief) has made him a favorite. So anyway, the baby is cute and everything, but also volatile, crying one second (which blows stuff up) and smiling the next (because stuff has blown up). How close is this to the experience of being a new parent? You tell me. I'm a bit of a Sarah Jane.

Though the child is chased by a Metalkind with a rubbish raygun (it either misses or bounces off things) AND a badass lady with electrical powers who claims to be its mum (I love the line about Miss Myers not sounding very alien, but it's because it's spelled differently), it's not clear who's good or bad in this story. All we know is that Sky was apparently bred as a weapon against the Metalkind, which is all the proof we need that Clyde's instincts were right not to trust anyone. The chase starts in a junkyard and ends in a nuclear power plant, so some nice, unusual locations in there. At the periphery of the light action are other recurring characters, back for another tour. Haresh and Gita are charming as usual (how is Sarah going to explain her foster child growing up so fast?), and Professor Rivers makes an appearance as well. The character is useful from a plot perspective, but is really the one adult who somehow knows she's on BBCKids. I've never really liked the character. Just a little too goofy to be believed. Were she more real, the scene where she play-acts zapping things with her lipstick, dreaming of being Sarah Jane, would have been much funnier. But she's a caricature, a grown woman acting like a 12-year-old.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - A fairly strong opener, comfortable and familiar, if not eye-poppingly original.


Martin Gray said...

A fun episode. I do love Clyde, and wish the series had continued with him and Rani. But not Luke, he's annoying.

Siskoid said...

There's something about child prodigies isn't there? Luke, Wesley Crusher, Adric...


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