The time comes in any popular programme’s life that you have to wonder how many spin-offs it can sustain. For many (particularly Doctor Who fans) the answer is a very simple “none”, with even the most highly regarded shows being unable to sustain the life of another separate production.
The genre that has been able to pull this off more then most however, is science fiction, the very nature of plotting and setting making it more plausible for there to be room in the show’s universe for a different take on the characters and events that exist there.
Doctor Who is no exception to this rule, from failed or never pursued ideas for stand alone shows about the Daleks, U.N.I.T., Rose Tyler and K.9., to the success of it’s most well-known spin-off Torchwood.
We all recognize, I think, that you can only spin so far from the original show, and then only if you are spinning in the right direction (science proves it, I swear!). When faced with a second new show borne from Doctor Who’s success, you have to wonder how likely it is for lightning to strike twice in so short a time.
Revenge of the Slitheen still leaves the question hanging in the air like some ghastly smell a Slitheen might leave in its wake. It has a lot going for it, great cast, a good production and effects team, and if needed, a vast history of monsters and ideas to pull from. The fact that it chooses the Slitheen for its first Sarah Jane Adventures baddie to crossover into the children’s show was a good move, if uninspired for the adults in the audience.
The Slitheen might well be the most debated and laughed-at monster since the Myrka raised its horse suit from the murky depths. When they appeared in Doctor in 2005, many long time fans thought their slightly comical appearance and the abundance of fart jokes was too much for the heart and soul of their beloved Doctor Who to handle. It was in fact a source of great debate among the legion of fans that get together on the internet. There was one thing that was certain though, and that was that the kids loved the creatures, making them an easy choice to introduce the first series of the Sarah Jane Adventures, and indeed the child in out house never having seen them before was entranced and scared by the creations, and even wanted to watch them repeatedly the next day, so in that sense the show did its job well, capturing the imagination of its target audience.
Problem is, very little creativity and originality was shown in the first episode, and sometimes with horrible results, as the Slitheen lost even some of their small amount of Who charm being reduced even more into campy rubbery villas that made you want to turn off if you were over the age of ten or eleven years old.
What was really missing was any kind of spark to set this show apart from Doctor Who and also let it stand on its own two feet. The Invasion of the Bane special’s problems were somewhat eliminated, with Sarah no longer being shown as a second rate human Doctor, and with Kelsey removed as the loud mouth sidekick to Maria and Luke.
Will we be better served with an idea of the shows promise or lack of with the next installment? It seemed from the clip shown to be a stand alone idea and not one mired in poor continuity.
The show has promise make no mistake, but even if that might be as weekly fun for the kiddie set, there is much room for improvement.