Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Lipstick Review II

"REVENGE OF THE SLITHEEN - PART TWO"
review by ANTHONY GARNON

Before I say anything else let me say just one thing; that infant Slitheen looks absolutely bloody stupid. There, I said it. Now lets move on, because the rational adult side of me reacting to something that's clearly designed for the kiddies. Child Slitheen? Pa! I can live with that, it's not the end of the world. Don't let it cause sleepness nights for you either. This is CBBC, not peak time BBC One.

The episode is chock-a-block with fruity action sequences, almost as if writer Gareth Roberts used episode one just to set things up so he could later knock everything back down again. Like the very best classic Doctor Who adventures there's corridor chase scenes, returning monsters and a good old fashioned sense of humour. There's more exciting in these 25 minutes than in some of Torchwood's longer 45 minute episodes!

Roberts successfully manages to give each character their own turn in the spotlight. Luke gets to save the day (again!), Clyde becomes a part of the team, Sarah Jane becomes a named mum and Maria experiences her first kill. In particular that last moment is a nasty, unpleasent sight for a CBBC drama - a child who doesn't have to kill, but chooses to. Fair enough, the Slitheen would have killed her otherwise, but when it came to the crunch - after being dared - Maria is well prepared to take an alien's life. If anything, Roberts and the team are showing us that this show isn't all schoolkids and innocence like we might have mistakenly thought.

One problem that this story does have is the fact that it's been cursed with the bloody Slitheen; creatures incapable of looking menacing or haunting. They're a very clumsy creation - made way back in 2005 when the production team on 'Who were first finding their feet. They were an exercise in what could go wrong, and should have stayed confined to the past. It was a nice idea to have a returning Doctor Who villain to open the series, but it was such a shame it turned out to be the Slitheen.

However one grumble I had last week has been resolved - the Slitheen's plans have now been made clear to viewers meaning that we're no longer trailing miles behind trying to play catch up. I could argue that the overall Slitheen plan doesn't entirely make sense to me, even after a second viewing, but I wouldn't be so petty. Besides, I've got used to plot holes over the last couple of years watching NuWho!

Clyde, too, has developed nicely as a character. Now he's moved away from his cocksure roots and has become a part of the team, the character works so much better. I once doubted his place in Sarah Jane's team (I just couldn't see what another character could bring to the mix) but now all's become clear - if Sarah Jane is the Doctor, and Maria/Luke are her own versions of Sarah/Harry, then Clyde is the Brigidier - who would rather not think before taking action. All brawn and not enough brains. Good dramatic stuff!

Overall then, the episode doesn't quite match the quality levels set by "Bane" back in January, or indeed last week's opener. This is much more of an action oriented piece of drama, and one that reminds us that despite a 59 year old lead, there's still a lot of fun to be had for the children today, who've grown up on the likes of Dick and Dom. Long live Sarah Jane.

Oh, and Mr. Smith is evil?! Who saw that one coming - fingers crossed for lots more revelations in the 8 weeks to come! Overall a C plus for this episode. Revenge of the Slitheen as a complete adventure ranks at about a B Grade - good, but there's a long way to go before it's perfect. Looks like it's back to school for some extra curriculia activities...

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