December 11, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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The Sarah Jane Adventures “The Man Who Never Was Part 1”

Sarah Jane, Luke, and Sky see some odd things at a computer demonstration.

Well, it does seem appropriate for what turned out to be the final serial to have Sarah Jane team up with both of her adopted kids.  Luke is always a good supporting character, and there’s dramatic possibilities that should be explored now that Sky is there for both Luke and Sky.

OK, no sign of K9, but you can’t have everything.

So, there’s this computer company called Serf Systems, named for American founder Joseph Serf, that is set to release the SerfBoard, some new kind of computer with a lot of hype behind it.  He hosts all kinds of videos about it in the lobby of his building, but that sure seems like a waste since the episode opens with the only person there to see it being a somewhat cynical young woman doing custodial work.

Then a Jawa grabs her and pulls her into an elevator.

OK, that might mean something bad is afoot.

As it is, there’s a demonstration for the SerfBoard that only the nation’s top three journalists were invited to, and one of them is Sarah Jane.  Now, Rani is a little surprised by this because…you know, have we ever seen Sarah Jane working her actual job?  She often uses it as an excuse to investigate weird stuff, but we just about never see her writing anything.  Not sure why Sarah Jane got so miffed when none of the others guessed she was one of the top three journalists in Britain.

As it is, Sarah Jane figures she can take two people with her and settles for the visiting Luke and Sky.  Rani and Clyde have to stay behind.  Clyde, for one, is bummed.

Until Sarah Jane brings one back, but something weird happened at the press conference.  An anti-computer colleague of Sarah Jane’s suddenly thought the SerfBoard was just awesome.  Also, Sky and Luke, both somewhat bred that way, noticed that Joseph Serf guy glitched at one point.  It happened so fast, no one else noticed, but Mr. Smith caught it, so there’s something going on.

That means Sarah Jane actually uses those journalistic skills to score an interview with a man she is sure is a hologram of some kind.  He always has a handler nearby, and he didn’t touch anyone.  Her kids can look around the building while Clyde and Rani…continue to stay behind.

Actually, Clyde and Rani got some of the better moments in what was a fairly fun episode as they decided to see if the SerfBoard really was more than it appeared to be despite Mr. Smith saying otherwise.  That meant thick rubber gloves, masks, goggles, and a lot of similar parahelia before they found out that Mr. Smith was right and there was nothing special about the SerfBoard.  Heck, Clyde found it especially disappointing when he saw there really wasn’t much to it at all.

That might be because there’s some hypnotic stuff going on with Serf, a man whose name is probably a lot more on-the-nose than many might notice.  Luke and Sky manage to find a sub-subbasement where all those Jawas are running some kind of machine that apparently empowers the Serf hologram, and while I am sure they will be revealed to be Not-Jawas, even some of the sound effects they make sound like Jawas, so I don’t have a problem using that term.

Plus, Sarah Jane was maybe right to be miffed since she pulls out every trick in the book to see if Serf will interact with, oh, anything.  That sneaky assistant guy is pretty quick to cover for him every time, and even when the Jawas turn on the hypnosis beams, Sarah Jane shrugs it off because, well, if anyone in this universe has learned how to avoid hypnosis, it would be one of the Doctor’s oldest companions as often as that came up on the old show.

Finally, Sarah Jane just grabs Serf…or tries to.  He isn’t solid.  That causes the Jawas to panic…and find Luke and Sky hiding nearby.

You know, as aliens go, these things don’t seem all that threatening, but it wouldn’t be the first time this series has suggested some short alien is somehow more formidable than all of the much-taller people standing around him…