Reviewed By: Drew Vogel
Review Date: 8/26/17 4:18 am
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The second series of "Sarah Jane Smith" offers something slightly different. It's another loosely connected series of more or less standalone stories, like the first series or "UNIT", but it's all written by the same person, like "Dalek Empire" or "Cyberman". In this case, that writer is David Bishop, who wrote "Test of Nerve", which was the best episode of the first series. He also borrows a trick from "UNIT": using newscasts to surreptitiously set-up future stories. And it's a good trick. It's a simple and effective way to locate each story in the midst of a larger world. In this case, Bishop uses the same technique to wrap up loose ends from the first series.
It must be said that the story of this episode is a bit on the thin side, but that's largely because it takes a lot of time to set-up subsequent episodes. That will pay off down the line, so it's hardly wasted time, but it does leave less time to develop and resolve this episode's story. The most important thing to note is the introduction of Will Sullivan, Harry's younger step-brother, played by the marvelous Tom Chadbon. I don't know why it took Big Finish so long to get Chadbon in, but thank goodness they finally did.
The story involves the murder of an archaeologist, which turns out to be connected to a mysterious cult that believes Sarah Jane is their herald. The details of the cult aren't very important at this stage. As far as this story is concerned, it's basically just a MacGuffin used to motivate the conflict between two opposing sect. Sarah is only involved due to her relation to Nat, who happened to working on the dead archaeologist's dig in Florence, Italy. Come to think of it, that's a bit of a coincidence, but it's not a huge problem.
So the story's a bit thin, and a little bit sloppy, but it's not a bad start to a new series of SJS adventures. It provides a solid foundation to build on, at the very least.