The book I'm reading at the moment features a 1970s cult star who seems almost supernaturally to have not aged a day, despite now being in her 60s. Anyway, on to Elisabeth Sladen who's back in The Sarah Jane Adventures
The opening two-parter this year is "The Nightmare Man," written by one of the more reliable Torchwood
writers, Joseph Lidster. He's quite cute too, he's done a couple of talking head bits in the special features on Classic Who
DVDs. Anyway as well as starting the series off he's also got to write out Luke and, it turns out, K-9, who seems to get written in and then back out of this series on an almost weekly basis. I take it that now the awful-looking K-9 spinoff has finally happened those legal issues cropped up again? Anyway we find out Luke is going to University because he took his A'Levels early (presumably so that Tommy Knight can take his real A'Levels?) And this now means the entire lineup of three kids from the original pilot has left the show, two to do exams and one because nobody could stand the sight of her (allegedly.) I quite like this, the rotating cast members make Sarah Jane even more Doctorish, with her ever-changing companions.
The story itself is an interestingly low-key one, showing off a lot of the unexpectedly mature things SJA
does so well. It's probably wise not to worry too
much about the plot, because the explanation of who the Nightmare Man is and how he attached himself to Luke is quickly got over with by Mr Smith basically muttering "McGuffin, McGuffin" for a few seconds before moving on. The point is the show continues to go to unexpectedly dark places, in this case because of how real the emotions behind the peril are. The nightmares are all based around a teenager's insecurity, and for the whole first episode Luke deals with them on his own due to some kind of influence that keeps him from mentioning the Nightmare Man. In fact right until the preview for part 2, it's still entirely possible that there is
no alien threat, and everything really is going on inside Luke's head. But as well as issues about becoming independent that might soon be relevant to the older section of the target audience, the show continues to give a moving look at how all this is affecting a single woman whose son is about to leave home.
Anyway, elsewhere Julian Bleach completes a hat-trick of villains in the Whoniverse, and his makeup job is a bit Heath Ledger's Joker, which again is quite a dark way to go rather than the usual slick and polished, fun aliens we usually get. I wouldn't be surprised if some real nightmares came out of this for the younger viewers. And! Doon MacKichan! Awesome! Plus the rather surreal moment where Lis Sladen needs ageing makeup to make her look like her real age. Basically the usual cliche about SJA
beating a lot of so-called adult dramas continues to be true as we go into its fourth year.