Ok, so it is really just a series 1 review, since that is all I’ve seen so far ^^
This show is the third spin-off of Doctor Who. It is the opposite of Torchwood. While Torchwood was made for an older audience, this show is intended for a much younger audience. Think of this as the nickelodeon version, except much better than anything on Nickelodeon.
Sarah Jane was a companion of the 3rd and 4th Doctors back in the early to mid 70s and reappeared in two movies, one with the 5th Doctor in the early 80s, and a 30-year anniversary special in 93. Her character resurfaced in the most recent Doctor Who series in the season 2 episode “School Reunion”, which was largely a setup for this series.
The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood have a similar main plotline. While Torchwood follows a team who fight aliens to keep the world safe, the Sarah Jane Adventures features the companion along with kids in their early teens. In the first episode Sarah Jane saves Luke, a boy created by aliens for the purpose of using him as a guinea pig to create a soda to be enjoyed by all the kids of Earth (they were going to use this all to control the kids). Sarah ended up adopting Luke as a son, since she had been alone since the Doctor left her after their adventures.
I took a point off because of the Aliens encountered in the show. I understand that it is a kids show, so nothing can be too scary, but there was one in particular that sticks in my mind: the Slatheen (I don’t think I’m spelling that right…). Granted, in Doctor Who they were kind of over-the-top anyways, but Sarah Jane Adventures takes that to a whole new level. They are downright ridiculous beyond any other enemy in the show. To put it bluntly- they’re obnoxious. The series itself is great, but at least in series 1 they were still working to figure out exactly where the line was before it was too much for kids.
For the most part the main characters of this show are kids. There is Sarah Jane, and another adult who plays a recurring role, but the kids lead the story just as Gwen and the Torchwood team lead their story. Sarah Jane and Captain Jack are the same type of characters: enablers. They do not emphasize the two as much in their series as they do the kids.
But seriously, for a show that revolves around kid actors their work is brilliant. These have to be some of the most talented kids on television, and I know Disney and Nickelodeon don’t make that much of a competition but still. Maria, Luke and Clyde are the three kids of the series. For the most part Maria (Yasmin Paige) is the “Gwen” of the series- the audience point of view character that asks all the questions the audience will.
Not to belabor the point, but I think the overall acting from the mains in Sarah Jane Adventures is a bit more together and certainly less awkward than the early Torchwood acting. Maybe child actors have it easy compared to the older ones though, child characters are rarely as complicated and as emotionally based as elder ones.
I don’t like the series as much as Doctor Who, but that is just because I REALLY like Doctor Who. The Sarah Jane Adventures is perfect for kids, but it isn’t hard to get into if you are older. Hell, I’m 19 and I still enjoy it. It is something everyone can enjoy without being bored. I don’t have to tell you how obnoxious children shows can be, but this one has the feel of any primetime show, it is just without cursing or overly complex or frightening plots. I think you could get away with showing this series to kids as young as 8 or 9, depending on how mature they are.