Synopsis: Independent reporter and former companion of the Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith, saves her town and world from otherworldly threats with unexpected companions of her own.
• Elizabeth Sladen (1946-2011) as Sarah Jane Smith carried the show almost effortlessly with the engaging charisma she had working with the Third, Fourth, and Tenth Doctors.
• Had largely consistent writing with watchable to truly engaging stories.
• Appearances from the main show of the Doctor (Tenth and Eleventh), the Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney, 1929-1911), and Jo Grant (Katy Manning) were surprisingly welcome.
• Truly fascinating adversaries and mysterious allies.
• Elevates past its core demographic of children, if only just.
• The children’s show DNA might turn away older viewers, depending on the episode.
• The unavoidably shortened final season left narrative loose ends.
• The final story can be very hard to watch, the theme being that Sarah Jane’s life was being sucked out of her.
The Sarah Jane Adventures hit an almost mythical narrative sweet spot for fans of Doctor Who. An inherent problem of spin-offs, origin stories, and the like are that they are not always asked for by the fans. Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) might be an engaging origin story, but not only did it not see as much interest as the main series, but it also nearly fell apart during production. Sarah Jane was the kind of spin-off that everyone truly wanted but never realized.
The show was mostly a fusion of the rejected pilot K-9 and Company (1981) and the Tenth Doctor episode “School Reunion.” In some ways, the show was somewhat unusual. It was at times like if Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974-1975) had a second season with more aliens and teenage companions. On paper, that might not sound viable, and again, that 1981 pilot was not picked up. Yet, Elizabeth Sladen and her fellow actors made it work with the definitive help of largely strong writing. Sarah Jane Smith was the kind of hero that always found a positive way, no matter how evil the foe. Her almost sudden death in 2011 can make watching especially the last story difficult, but Doctor Who proved long ago that when there are tears, there is hope. Sladen as Sara Jane Smith moved her infinitely engaging character forward smoothly right to the last episode. Even though there might never even be novels to continue it, what was made was truly wonderful.
Doctor Who Franchise