tek's rating:

The Sarah Jane Adventures: Invasion of the Bane, on BBC One (UK)
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This originally aired in the UK on New Year's Day, 2007. It later aired in the US on Sci-Fi Channel in April 2008, which would be where and when I first saw it. It serves as the pilot for the series The Sarah Jane Adventures, of which regular episodes began airing in September 2007 in the UK (and April 2008 in the US, so Americans only had to wait a week for the first regular episode). Although I guess there is some confusion as to whether or not the New Year's special technically counts as the first episode of series 1 of the show. Personally, I don't really care all that much one way or the other. And when I originally started a review of the show, it basically just described a bit of what happened in the special, which seemed like enough to explain the plot of the series. But I had no plans to make a separate entry for the special itself. However, in 2018, I realized I could watch the series on Amazon, and I finally decided to make a separate entry for the special, after all.

So... a 13-year-old girl named Maria Jackson moves with her father to a house on Bannerman Road, in the Ealing district of London. Maria's parents, Alan and Chrissie, have recently divorced, fairly amicably. Maria soon learns that an investigative journalist named Sarah Jane Smith lives in the house across the street from Maria and Alan's new home. She also meets a girl named Kelsey Hooper, who takes her to tour a local factory where a popular new drink called Bubble Shock is made. Kelsey loves the stuff, but it seems that Maria is part of the 2% of the population who for some reason dislike it. After a little while, Maria and Kelsey get separated, during the tour. Meanwhile, Sarah Jane secretly follows Maria and Kelsey to the factory, which she begins investigating. She has a fraught encounter with the head of the company, Mrs. Wormwood, and barely manages to get away. Sarah Jane eventually finds Maria, and together they find a strange boy called "The Archetype," who escapes with them from the factory. Maria wants to go back to find Kelsey, but they don't have the chance to do that.

While Mrs. Wormwood learns from Kelsey where Sarah Jane lives, Maria learns a bit about Sarah Jane. And Kelsey soon shows up, her memory of various events having been erased. And um... anyway... Mrs. Wormwood is an alien, of course, and she has plans to take over the Earth using an ingredient in Bubble Shock called "Bane," which turns out to be the name of the alien race in this episode. And um, we also learn that Sarah Jane's former companion, the robotic dog K-9, is busy elsewhere, trying to take care of some rift in space or whatever. So he won't be around to help her. But she has plenty of gadgets she can use to investigate alien activity on Earth, and help good aliens who need help or thwart bad aliens who have nefarious plans. She also has a sort of supercomputer called Mr. Smith. And... Maria and the Archetype help Sarah Jane defeat Mrs. Wormwood and the rest of the Bane. And later, Maria and Sarah Jane decide to name the Archetype "Luke," and Sarah Jane adopts him. (Well, Mr. Smith creates fake papers to make it seem she's adopted him, since he was created by the aliens as part of their plot, and so there would be no record of him prior to this.) I should say, Luke is entirely human, but he has a greatly increased capacity for learning because of some explanation given in the special. Whatever.

Anyway, it was all reasonably fun, I guess. Not great, but okay. And... after this, in the regular series, Maria and Luke will help Sarah Jane with her subsequent investigations. (But Kelsey isn't involved after the original special.)

specials index
Whoniverse specials
Doctor Who: The Five Doctors * The Curse of the Fatal Death
K-9 & Company: A Girl's Best Friend
Doctor Who Mk II: Christmas specials * minisodes * The Infinite Quest * 2009 specials * Dreamland * The Day of the Doctor * 2022 specials
Doctor Who Mk III: 2023 specials
Sarah Jane Adventures: Invasion of the Bane * From Raxacoricofallapatorius with Love
docudrama: An Adventure in Space and Time