Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Sarah Jane Adventures: Judgement Day (2011) - AudioReview

Publisher: BBC Worldwide Ltd

"The lie betrays life. The truth defies death."

They may have arrived searching for an alien criminal, but the Veritas encounter a far more dangerous threat - her name, Sarah Jane Smith!

It all starts with a sunny spring Saturday morning. All is well with the world, except for neighbour Gita Chandra's van, which is going nowhere; her husband Haresh is trying to fix the problem - and failing miserably, a mechanic he is definitely not! It's also the opening day of White Cross Mall and Gita has a stall waiting to be opened. However, Sarah Jane is on hand with her Sonic Lipstick to save the day.

Back at No. 13 Bannerman Road and beat music can be heard coming from the attic, Mr Smith (Sarah Jane's super computer) now has a new vocation as a DJ (disc jockey). Clyde Langer, Rani Chandra (Gita's daughter) and Sky Smith (Sarah Jane's adopted daughter and an alien) are present; Rani is frustratingly distracted from her history studies.

An alarm from Mr Smith and the team are alerted to the existence of "exotic energy particles in the West London area", but as Clyde amusingly asks: "Is 'exotic' a fancy way of saying 'alien'?"

And so to White Cross Shopping Mall, the centre of activity...

Opening Day and the celebrations consist of music, performers, jugglers and dancers. A large crowd drinks in the carnival-like atmosphere. Sarah Jane and her team are active, searching for any sign of an alien presence. Separating into two groups, Clyde and Sky observe the tricks of Zando the Magnificent, a magician; Sarah Jane and Rani explore another part of the mall with an alien detector.

What follows is a gripping moment enhanced by powerful music and sound design (courtesy of Meon Productions's Simon Power) as large translucent green spheres materialise in the air. The crowd, at first stunned and then terrified, disperses but there is no place to hide - the mall has been cut off from the outside world by a powerful forcefield.

As events unfold further we discover the purpose of the spheres, and who is behind them! We find that Sarah Jane herself, though not originally targeted by the sphere's operators, is in peril.

The attraction of this adventure is the direction in which it takes, with Judgement Day we are almost in Trial of a Time Lord territory and Sarah Jane having to answer for her past. Thankfully no Valeyard but a trial all the same.

"I live a secret life, and it isn't easy. There are days when I have to make a choice between what is right and what is necessary."

What writer Scott Gray delivers is a genuine tribute for a much loved actress and her time as journalist Sarah Jane Smith. There is a message, that whatever has been done was always in the name of peace and order, protecting Earth and its Human occupants.

And Anjli Mohindra is the perfect companion to a story that touches both heart and imagination; her narrative is simply superb. With the high-quality of these audiobooks, it does make you wonder if the Universe of Sarah Jane need ever end. Surely a continuation of these stories is what all fans desire?

I am certain Elisabeth Sladen would approve!

Produced by Jo Palmer, The Sarah Jane Adventures: Judgement Day is available from Audible UK. AudioGO (formerly BBC Audiobooks) became defunct as of 2014.

Interesting fact: In Roman mythology Veritas (meaning truth) was the goddess of truth