“The Sarah Jane Adventures” returns as a fitting goodbye to its star

Whovians around the world mourned the loss earlier this year of Elisabeth Sladen, the actress who played Doctor Who’s most beloved companion, Sarah Jane Smith.

At the time, we weren’t sure that we would ever get a chance to view the remaining episodes her award-winning spin-off for young viewers, The Sarah Jane Adventures. This week, however, CBBC began airing the three Series 5 stories (six episodes) that Sladen completed before she became too ill to work.

Series 5 opens with Sarah Jane finding a baby on her doorstep, which leads to a new adventure for her and sidekicks Clyde and Rani. The story is fast-paced and offers the usual blend of action and comic mayhem — exactly what we love about this series. After screening “Sky” Den of Geek wrote, “If this opening episode is anything to go by, it’s a show going out at the top of its game.”

Here’s the first episode trailer.

Seeing Lis Sladen brings mixed feelings, of course, since this is the last we’ll see of her as Smith. She always has been the center of the show, even though the original spin-off concept was a teenage Doctor growing up on Gallifrey. When Who creator Russell T. Davies vetoed the idea, the idea of featuring the Doctor’s popular companion came to fruition.

Head writer Phil Ford reflects, “I wonder if the BBC would ever have considered commissioning a series about a 60-year-old woman in the lead of a kids’ show if there had not been that Doctor Who connection? I’m sure they wouldn’t. Then again, of all the companions the Doctor had over the years, there was something special about Sarah Jane. She wasn’t so much a screaming sidekick – she was a character in her own right. She wasn’t there just to scream at the aliens, she was there to take the fight to them. I think that’s why the character has had such longevity. That’s the tragedy of this, really: she still had so much more to give.”

As a tribute to Sladen’s brilliance in the role, the BBC announced in May that no further episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures are planned.

The Series 5 preview gives you a quick look at what we will see the rest of the season.

Looks like great fun — and a wonderful legacy for Elisabeth Sladen.

Of course, in the U.S. we’re still waiting for BBC America (or any network) to air more than one season of The Sarah Jane Adventures. In the meantime, we’ll get by with a little help from your links.

Are you a fan of The Sarah Jane Adventures? If you’ve seen any of Series 5, let us know what you think.

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