I wasn't overwhelmed
by the first series of Sarah Jane Smith audios, but the second run is brilliant. Clearly Big Finish have rather hit their stride with the various spinoff series, I Davros
also being a pretty unqualified success. And as with I Davros, I reckon the Sarah Jane plays would be fairly accessible to a non-fan, perhaps even more so; the setting is contemporary, and the only heavily sfnal element is in fact Sarah's own personal history (apart from the ambiguous ending). They form a single story arc, and all of them are by David Bishop
, whose novel Who Killed Kennedy
last year, and whose Test of Nerve
, from the first run of SJS audios, turned out to be rather prophetic in its tale of terrorist attack on the London Underground.( Collapse )( Collapse )( Collapse )( Collapse )
One of the triumphs of the stories is the way in which families turn out to be important, more important than gangs of conspirators. We have Will Sullivan (played by Tom Chadbon = Duggan in City of Death
) and his vanished but adored brother Harry, and the mother and daughter team of protesters, Maude and Emily, in the third story; and the revelation about Josh in the last story as well. And of course we listeners know that there is another family relationship there as Natalie is played by Elizabeth Sladen's daughter Sadie Miller.
Finally, it is a bit surprising that the same mistake was made three times of giving Sarah a Harry Sullivan-lite gormless male sidekick - Brendan in K9 and Company, Jeremy Fitzoliver in the two Third Doctor audios
, and Josh in the first series of Big Finish's Sarah Jane adventures. Turning Josh into a deeper and more rounded character here was one of Bishop's best moves. Removing the twittish male side-kick altogether for the new TV series
was an even better move.