The Sarah Jane Adventures have been positively racing along this year, and Lost in Time is the penultimate story. Appropriately, the stakes are high, although in truth we find out little throughout the course of the adventure.
Sent spinning through time by mysterious shopkeeper Cyril Nri and his parrot the Captain, Sarah Jane, Rani and Clyde are split into three time zones to find the three segments to some form of super time controlling device. It might be easy to think “Key to Time” here (an old Doctor Who story arc from 1978, kids), but there was a difference as the main ability of the three components was to change time individually as opposed to control time once complete.
Oh and like the Key to Time, these component parts are disguised as random objects (although as we later find out, not that random…)
Big difference, eh? Still, it was interesting to see how each of the remaining stars of the show managed to deal with the problem, paired with new native characters from the periods in Britain’s history to which they were thrown (and given how long Earth’s history is, it’s just as well those three artefacts were all lost on this sceptred isle…
So while Sarah Jane was thrown through time TARDIS-less once again to be paired with a rather wet 19th century girl, Rani was able to use the title of “Lady” bestowed upon her by the intergalactic emperor Gavin in the previous episode and become Lady in Waiting to the doomed Queen Jane, formerly Lady Jane Grey. Hers is a particularly tragic story, and it was good to see it given some prominence in prime time children’s programming.
Clyde meanwhile faced off Nazis invading the south coast of England, accompanied by evacuee George. Locked in a church with a small band of German soldiers equipped with a radar jamming device, the two teenage boys are forced to request assistance from a passing teacher, who as an answer to every schoolboy’s prayer turns out to be a Nazi turncoat working undercover!
Trapped in the age of spiritualism, Sarah Jane and her nauseating new friend Emily find themselves in a haunted house. Emily’s mother has recently died and the young girl is looking for ghosts as a sign of life after death. What they find, however are not ghosts in the traditional sense, more echoes from the future…
With the three scenarios set up and Cyril Nri’s shopkeeper lending a needless commentary to proceedings, in all honesty Lost in Time is quite a thrilling romp across 4 time periods which is nicely wrapped up in a Blink-stealing moment at the end when one of the three artefacts is returned by a descendant.
Rupert Laight, who also wrote 2009’s The Gift, does an excellent job of splitting up the action between the time periods, while director Joss Agnew does a great job of getting performances out of most of the supporting cast; Amber Beattie is particularly watchable as the doomed but dignified Queen Jane, while German actor Tom Wlaschiha made a suitably threatening Nazi officer.
It might be unfair on young Luke Smith, but this “Luke-lite” series of The Sarah Jane Adventures has been on top form this year. Lost in Time builds on the quality we’ve seen in other episodes so far as the series becomes more and more assured despite losing a second main cast member.
Still, he’s sure to be back in Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith…