Don't be fooled, the Sarah Jane Adventures is by no means second or even third best to Doctor Who and Torchwood, in fact quite the opposite. Cleverly adapting the original Doctor Who series episode format mostly seen in the third Doctor era of Jon Pertwee, the series delivers great earthbound science fiction drama designed for a younger audience. The sucess of the show lies with its main characters and a fine cast, Elizabeth Sladen is Sarah Jane, thirty-four years after her first appearence in Doctor Who she inhabits the role effortlessly and with such familiarity one could be forgiven for thinking the two are one and the same. The young cast are a revelation, delivering strong performances from nuanced scripts that help buck the distressing trend of back-talking, sassy, iritating, wealthy teenagers that has seemed to have engulfed North American television. Instead, the scripts never forget that Luke, Clyde and Maria are adolescent children, their relationships with adults are realistic and sensitively handled. Maria's relationship with her father Alan is particulary nuanced, giving the viewer one of the few occasions where a TV father is not being portrayed as a comedic, doltish foil for his all-knowing jive-talking offspring or smarter spouse.
Once one has gotten used to the premise of a gang of school children defeating rubber-costumed alien menaces helped by a middle-aged ex-time traveller, a tin dog (K9 in cameo), and a talking fire place (Mr. Smith), the series is engagingly infectious. Try it, you will thank yourself.