Oh boy. That theme tune is going to be in my head forever, and that’s not a good thing. It’s very, very 1981. I assume it was supposed to be cool and exciting, but the title character shouting out his own name at random intervals just makes it comical. That title sequence as well. It was clearly supposed to be a sexy, American-style montage showcasing the exciting situations that Sarah may find herself in, but the lack of footage meant that these situations were limited to driving down a country road, reading The Guardian and having a nice glass of wine.
The fact that this ludicrously bright and frothy title sequence immediately cuts to some dark and doomy gothic ceremony is completely incongruous, which rather sets the tone for the following fifty minutes. Which, incidentally, is way too long. The story of rural witchcraft and human sacrifices is one that could have slotted nicely into the Pertwee era… in fact, I’m pretty sure it did, but with The Master being behind it all.
No aliens at all here though, which is odd choice – I was expecting something where Sarah and K-9 would be the first defence against a potential invasion, like a miniature UNIT, or indeed a precursor to the much more successful spin-off decades later. The Hot Fuzz-esque thing of the entire village being in on the conspiracy was good though, and it was an enjoyable cast of character actors.
It hasn’t been long at all since I’ve seen K-9, but he’s actually better here than he was for his last season and a bit in the main show. My favourite scenes of his are always the ones where he gets to go out exploring with The Doctor, and he now gets to do this with Sarah Jane. It’s weird that this is the first time the two characters have met; from watching the new series and The Sarah-Jane Adventures, I’d always assumed that they’d overlapped during their travels with The Doctor, but in fact their whole partnership stems from this one failed pilot.
And yes, it’s absolutely lovely to see Sarah Jane again. She’s not much older than when we last saw her, but she seems a lot wiser, and she takes to being the central character immediately. She is The Doctor here, with K-9 to help her out, and Brendan for her to look after. He, incidentally, is a much better everynerd figure than Adric, despite being weirdly unable to laugh on cue.
Overall, it’s not terrible, but very patchy, and the bits that work are only ever on a par with the least good bits of actual Doctor Who thus far. An interesting and worthwhile experiment, but I can’t really picture it as an ongoing series. Would she have carried on living in that sleepy little village? What adventures could have unfolded, given that the coven was completely disbanded? Would aliens have shown up? It’s a little bit of a shame that none of these questions are answered, but I won’t lose any sleep over it.