Just how many alien or artefact possession plots can the series trot out? 'The Last Sontaran' prominently featured two scientists under control of the spud-faced creature, 'The Day Of The Clown' saw a school march to the tune of Bradley Walsh's Pied Piper, 'Secrets Of The Stars' centred around an astral entity pulling the strings of Russ Abbot's fraud star gazer and, finally, 'The Mark Of The Berserker's premise was set upon a mysterious pendant which both took over the person in possession and gave them the ability to control other people's actions in turn. Can anyone else smell the faint whiff of lazy plotting?
Yet once again, a sense of deja-vu gripped proceedings when the story limped towards its resolution after a superb first part. Parent of lead character + fatal road traffic accident = world saved. Erm, Doctor Who 'Father's Day' anyone?
This allowed some fine verbal sparring between Sladen and the excellent Samantha Bond, but wasn't the sudden appearance of someone claiming to be Luke's real parent(s) the basis of first season finale 'The Lost Boy'? It was also great to see The Brigadier back, but it's a shame he didn't fire off a polite warning shot of 'five rounds rapid' from his walking stick in the general direction of the Sarah Jane writers.
As Rani, Anjli Mohindra was fine with dialogue, but painfully self-conscious on a physical acting level when compared to the effortless ease with which Daniel Anthony and Tommy Knight portray Clyde and Luke. It was almost as if someone was stood slightly off set operating her with strings. That theory at least fits into the whole 'body possession' procession of the second season.
In fact, the fractured bond between Clyde and his estranged dad demonstrated how effective Sarah Jane can be when dealing with domestic issues. This was especially true when compared to the leaden chase sequences that often bogged down the show this year.
The above criticisms may seem harsh for what is still a pleasing and well-meaning show. It definitely deserves a timeslot where the whole family can watch it together, rather than on Monday afternoons. Let's pray this is amended for the third season - and that the writers create the fresh plots and dazzling monsters that the show and cast deserve.
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