“The Sarah Jane Adventures: 10 Best Episodes of the Doctor Who Spin-Off”
The Sarah Jane Adventures was an immensely popular spin-off of Doctor Who, which aired from 2007 until Elisabeth Sladen’s tragic death in 2011. The show featured the much-loved Sarah Jane Smith, companion to the Third and Fourth Doctors, as the lead, and revolved around her life living in Bannerman Road.
The show was predominantly aimed at younger viewers, so it was a bit more child-friendly than Doctor Who, but older fans could, and did, still enjoy it. The Sarah Jane Adventures also tackled serious topics such as homelessness and immigration, but as with all television programs, some episodes were simply better than others.
10 The Mad Woman In The Attic (Part 1 & 2)
The character of Rani Chandra was introduced early in the show’s second season to fill in the gap left behind by the departure of Maria Jackson and her dad, who left Bannerman Road for America. Cheeky and cheerful, Rani wanted to be an investigative journalist after school, so it was only natural that she would become part of Sarah Jane’s gang.
However, the fact that she was still the newest member sometimes weighed heavily on Rani’s mind, and she felt left out a lot more than she let on. This came to a head in this two-parter when, mostly ignored by her friends, Rani left to investigate an abandoned fairground. The episode was creepy and sweet in equal measures, and it cemented Rani’s place as a member of the gang.
9 The Curse Of Clyde Langer (Part 1 & 2)
These episodes were part of The Sarah Jane Adventures‘s final season, which was tragically cut short. As a result, the fifth season only consisted of three two-part stories. The middle episodes were easily the best of the bunch, as they focused predominantly on Clyde Langer, one of Sarah Jane’s long-time companions.
Clyde had been on the series almost since the very beginning, and so it was nice to see a storyline which affected him directly. In this episode, a supernatural curse causes everyone in Clyde’s life to reject him, isolating the young teenager from everyone he loves. As a result, Clyde becomes homeless, and the episodes portray this community in a direct yet sensitive manner.
8 The Day Of The Clown (Part 1 & 2)
These episodes introduced popular character Rani Chandra and her parents. Rani had the unenviable task of following in Maria’s footsteps, but she refused to replace her and instead became her own person with her own personality. Rani’s debut was just one reason why this story made this list.
“The Day Of The Clown” episodes were also great in their own right. They saw Sarah Jane and her friends investigate the disappearance of several local children, with links to a mysterious museum about the circus. They were incredibly creepy, and featured current Doctor Who companion Bradley Walsh in a terrifying turn as Odd Bob the Clown.
7 The Temptation Of Sarah Jane Smith (Part 1 & 2)
This two-parter was one of The Sarah Jane Adventures‘ most emotional and well-written couple of episodes, which is really saying a lot. They also featured the return of the Trickster, a popular villain from the first season of the show. What made this story truly great, however, was that it properly focused on Sarah Jane Smith.
Sarah Jane and her gang discovered a time portal to the year 1951, where Sarah Jane’s parents were still alive. What’s more, it was to the day they die. It turned out that this was a malicious scheme devised by the Trickster so that Sarah Jane would save her parents and change time for the worst. It was a devastating situation.
6 The Gift (Part 1 & 2)
This is the first season finale on this list, and it had plenty going for it. While out on a monster chase, Sarah Jane, Luke, Rani and Clyde encountered the Blathereen, distant cousins of the Slitheen. Claiming to be allies, the Blathereen told Sarah Jane that they were grateful for all her efforts that went in to defeating the Slitheen.
As a reward, they gave the gang a plant called Rakweed, which can survive in the harshest of conditions, potentially ending world hunger. However, the Rakweed spores were incredibly poisonous and would slowly kill anyone who inhaled them, including Luke, Sarah’s adopted son. They were a tense and emotional couples of episodes, and showed Sarah Jane at her best.
5 The Lost Boy (Part 1 & 2)
Another Sarah Jane-centric episode, the episodes leading up to this Season 1 finale showed the protagonist and her new friends settle into a routine and become like a little family of sorts. Naturally, since this was a finale, “The Lost Boy” set to upend that new dynamic completely by suggesting that Luke was in fact a teenager who went missing.
The episode was complete with suitable grief-stricken parents and Sarah Jane even getting arrested. To be honest, it did look as though Luke was actually their son for a hot second. Of course, it wasn’t to be, and the big twist in the tale was that Sarah Jane’s alien super computer Mr Smith was behind everything. Nobody saw that one coming.
4 Whatever Happened To Sarah Jane? (Part 1 & 2)
This was a brilliant two-parter, which is slightly strange because this story acted as a Sarah-lite couple of episodes. However, the premise was extremely fascinating. One morning, Maria woke up to find that Sarah Jane and Luke didn’t exist, Clyde was back to being arrogant and popular and finally, there was a strange woman living in Sarah Jane’s house.
It transpired that this woman, Andrea Yates, had died back in 1964 in a tragic accident, and what’s more, Andrea was friends with Sarah Jane. The Trickster had visited Andrea, offering to save her and let Sarah die, thus causing chaos with time and ultimately allowing Earth to be destroyed by a meteor in the present.
3 Invasion Of The Bane
It’s extremely rare for television shows to get it right with their first episode. However, The Sarah Jane Adventures pilot episode was absolutely fantastic. Sarah Jane was in top form and was immediately recognizable as the Doctor’s companion of old. Her companions were also well-written and compelling, with Kelsey being the only exception.
The alien threat was also suitably menacing as the Bane made their Doctor Who universe debut. The CGI elements held up surprisingly well, with the squid-like Bane super gross to look at. But the best part of the episode by far was whenever Sarah Jane and the Bane leader, Mrs Wormwood, shared a scene together. There was so much tension and Sarah Jane really held her own.
2 The Nightmare Man (Part 1 & 2)
“The Nightmare Man” served as Luke’s last proper regular appearance on The Sarah Jane Adventures — but what a way to bow out. Because of how Luke was created, he was incredibly intelligent, and so his school’s headmaster suggested that he take his A-Levels a year early. Obviously, Luke passed with flying colors so it was off to Oxford he went.
Except, Luke was having serious doubts, which manifested themselves in his nightmares. The Nightmare Man used Luke to find a way into our reality by keeping him in a supernatural slumber. The only way Luke could escape was to find Clyde and Rani and defeat the Nightmare man with their help. It was a wonderful send-off, and the Nightmare Man was genuinely terrifying.
1 Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith (Part 1 & 2)
Considering that The Sarah Jane Adventures was advertised as a series aimed at children, it covered a wide range of relevant issues that are still a concern in society today. The Season 4 finale focused on the sensitive topic of ageing and losing your sense of identity in a scary, heartbreaking and dignified way.
Sarah Jane, Clyde and Rani befriended Ruby White, another alien hunter, while at the same time, Sarah Jane began to develop dementia. Scared that she would get one of her friends killed, Sarah handed over her life to Ruby. It was terribly sad and poignant, but it all turned out to be a massive con, as Ruby was secretly leeching off Sarah Jane’s life energy.
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