Tuesday 12 February 2019

Prisoner of the Judoon - SJA 3.1

In which Sarah Jane Smith goes to the offices of Genetec to interview its director, Mr Yorke, about his nanotechnology advances. She raises concerns about what might happen if the nanoforms escaped into the environment - prompting Yorke to ask her to leave. Later that day, Sarah and her young friends are alerted to an object heading from space towards London. This proves to be a crashing spaceship. Mr Smith picks up a distress call from the pilot - a Judoon officer. UNIT are heading for the main crash site, but Mr Smith has identified the landing place for an escape capsule. Worried about what would happen if UNIT and the Judoon clashed, Sarah decides that they will deal with the capsule and its occupants themselves. They trace its crash site to a derelict housing estate. As they leave Bannerman Road, they are interrupted by Rani's mum Gita, on the lookout for opportunities for her florist business. She hopes that Sarah's connections might be able to open some corporate doors. Sarah sends her to Genetec.
Once at the crash site, they are confronted by an injured Judoon - Captain Tybo. He was transporting a dangerous alien criminal named Androvax, who has now managed to escape.

Whilst Luke and Rani look after Tybo, Sarah and Clyde hear a scream coming from a nearby hall. They locate a small girl who wants to know where her mother has gone. However, Sarah has been scanning and identifies the child as alien. Androvax emerges from her body then merges into Sarah's. He is a member of the Veil species, which can inhabit the bodies of others. Clyde is placed in a trance. He is found by the others who wake him up. The Judoon commandeers a police car in order to give chase. The possessed Sarah goes to the attic where she learns of the earlier visit to Genetec, and decides to go and see Mr Yorke again. Tybo and the others arrive soon after, to discover that Androvax has set Mr Smith to self-destruct...

Luke is able to make Mr Smith halt the countdown, and it tells them that Sarah has gone to Genetec. Gita, meanwhile, has also gone there with Haresh and a load of plants. She intends to leave them around the building in the hope of being given a contract to provide a regular supply. Haresh is worried that they have basically broken in. Sarah / Androvax confronts Mr York and releases the nanoforms, which begin to devour the building. Androvax wants the to build him a new spaceship so that he can flee the planet. Determined that the Judoon captain will not kill Sarah in order to get at Androvax, Clyde and Rani lock Tybo in a laboratory. Androvax captures Luke in order to use him to help create the spaceship, and he will require him to also help pilot it. Tybo calls upon reinforcements as a Judoon spaceship enters the solar system. A number of them beam down to the Genetec premises - witnessed by Gita and Haresh.

The nanoforms become dormant in low temperatures, so Clyde and Rani use fire extinguishers to subdue them. The spaceship is nearing completion on the roof of the building. Luke steals its power source and forces Androvax to release his mother in exchange for it. The Judoon arrive and recapture him before he can use it. Luke then uses the ship's computer to deactivate the rest of the nanoforms. Tybo decides to punish Clyde and Rani for obstructing him in the line of his duties by grounding them - banning them from leaving Earth. When they get back to Bannerman Road, Gita tells them all about her encounter with aliens.

Prisoner of the Judoon was written by Phil Ford, and was first broadcast on 15th and 16th October, 2009. It marks the beginning of the third season of The Sarah Jane Adventures.
To help launch the new series, a popular alien was drafted in from Doctor Who - the rhinoceros-like Judoon police force. Being somewhat dimwitted and pedantic, a lot of fun could be had with them. It was policy that the Daleks and Cybermen would never be used in the SJA, as they didn't fit with the programme's lighter, more optimistic (and death-free) tone.
As with Smith and Jones and The Stolen Earth only one Judoon is ever seen without its helmet - Captain Tybo. The others all wear their helmets, as only one animatronic mask existed. Once again Paul Kasey plays the principle Judoon, and Nick Briggs provides the voice.

Androvax of the Veil - the "Destroyer of Worlds" - is a new reptilian bipedal alien. He is played by Mark Goldthorp. The character was given a long CGI tongue, which was also used for the human characters whom he merged with. The other guest artist is Terence Maynard, playing Mr Yorke.
Rani's parents, Gita and Haresh, have a strong role to play in the proceedings, with a comic subplot of their own - and they finally get a glimpse of the sort of life their daughter leads, although they never catch sight of Sarah, Luke, Clyde and Rani at Genetec's premises. Lis Sladen also gets to play evil for a change, as she is possessed by Androvax for most of the two episodes.

Overall, a fun way to start the new season. The sequence where Tybo commandeers the police car and insists on sticking to the speed limit, then orders another driver to turn his music down at gun point, stands out.
Things you might like to know:
  • This was Nick Brigg's only contribution to The Sarah Jane Adventures. He had already appeared in Torchwood: Children of Earth by this point, so this makes him one of only a handful of people to feature in all three series.
  • Mr Smith identifies the spaceship Androvax is creating as similar to one which crashed at Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947 and is stored in Area 51. An animated Doctor Who story featuring David Tennant was in production at the time this SJA story was made - Dreamland - and it used the same spaceship design as the one seen here.
  • The third series of SJA begins with an on screen monologue spoken by Daniel Anthony (Clyde), which lets new viewers know a little about the background to the series, and features clips from forthcoming episodes. This had previously been seen in a cinema trailer for the series. It will be used again for the fourth and fifth series, with appropriate new episode footage inserted.
  • A number of police / crime TV series are referenced in the dialogue throughout the story - generally courtesy of Clyde. Series mentioned include Softly, Softly (1966 - 69), Starsky and Hutch (1975 - 79), I Spy (1965 - 68) and 24 (2001 - 14).

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