In between two "big" stories The Sarah Jane Adventures
goes for a much more low-key option in this week's two-parter, that looks like another budget-saving device (given what next week's story seems to involve, I wonder if the lack of Lis Sladen is down to some double-bank filming going on as well.)
I wouldn't be surprised if some of the biggest expenses for "The Empty Planet" involved the manpower required to keep all those streets empty long enough to shoot scenes.
The story's basically an extended puzzle for Clyde and Rani to put together and figure out what's made them the only humans left on Earth and how to fix that. It's really too slight to properly fill 50 minutes; it's only really the fact that one of the Whoniverse's best writers, Gareth Roberts, is behind it that stops it from becoming dull. Of course it's also a showcase for Daniel Anthony and Anjli Mohindra who are more than up to the challenge of carrying a story, and naturally the ongoing romance between them is progressed here. It's interesting how much we're being reminded that the characters are growing up now, especially with the contrast of a 13-year-old who sees them as pretty much grown-ups (I say the characters
are growing up because of course both actors were over 18 when they joined the show, and are basically adults playing kids - the fact that Anthony in particular was partly cast for his lack of height is now regularly being referenced on the show. Of course the wisdom of casting adults is proven by the fact that they're both still here, while the actual
teenagers from the show are long gone thanks to school commitments.)
Anyway this wasn't a classic, entertaining enough but not one for repeat viewing. Was I the only one who, in Part 1 especially, was getting a few subtle nods to His Dark Materials
? Clyde cooking in an abandoned cafe which they've made their base of operations reminded me a lot of the opening chapters of The Subtle Knife
(it was particularly his putting some money in the till despite there being nobody around, like Will does, that flagged this up for me) followed by a couple of references to Clyde and Rani as Adam and Eve. Aw, bless a kids' TV show that's willing to make (and get away with) jokes about two of its characters repopulating the globe. Let's hope the Daily Mail
didn't notice or they'll go on an anti-BBC warpath again. Especially if they spotted that the future population would all be half-black, half-Asian. Imagine the pearl-clutching!