A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Unlike most American shows that focus on female characters, this show makes no effort to hide either Sarah Jane's age or her brains. She seems resigned to being perpetually single, and she and others sometimes pointedly remark on her lack of a husband or boyfriend. Maria's parents are divorced, and the show makes no effort to hide the downside of divorce, including parents who bicker over money and revel in their ability to date new people while neglecting their children.
Violence & Scariness
Sarah Jane and her friends frequently tangle with hostile aliens, but they use their wits rather than weapons, and she makes a point of noting that they're almost always outgunned. The violence is very tame, with a few less-than-dramatic explosions, some rather unconvincing alien costumes, and very little shooting or punching.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
No sex or nudity, though there's a bit of subtle innuendo. The show does not ignore sexuality -- middle-aged Sarah Jane's lack of a husband or boyfriend is occasionally mentioned, both by her and other characters. Maria's parents are divorced, and her mother sometimes hints at romantic encounters with a new boyfriend.
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"Fart" is about as bad as it gets.
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Products & Purchases
Few obvious product placements, though Sarah Jane is frequently seen driving a sporty green Nissan Figaro. Several episodes center on alien plots to take over the Earth using successful corporations as fronts to hide in plain sight (perhaps a not-so-thinly-veiled metaphor for capitalism's potentially adverse impact on society).
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this family-targeted Doctor Who spin-off is heavy on aliens trying to take over the Earth, but light on violence and scares (the characters prefer to use wits over weapons, and the effects aren't very sophisticated). There's no iffy sexual content, drinking, or particularly strong language, either, and main character Sarah Jane is a plucky, ingenious single mom who -- in a rarity for TV -- looks and acts her age, speaks honestly about her feelings, and comes across as a very real person. That is, a real person who spends her days tracking down aliens and sending them packing without resorting to violence.
Is It Any Good?
The group's "weaknesses" are strengths for the series, because they force Sarah Jane to come up with innovative strategies to defeat her foes, which ends up being much more fun for viewers. Storm into an alien stronghold with guns blazing? Most fans have seen that over and over again. But destroy a hideous beast with an intergalactic mobile phone? Now that's something new.
Sarah Jane has a complicated, well-loved backstory. THE SARAH JANE ADVENTURES is a spin-off of the immensely popular Doctor Who series, and Sarah Jane (who's always been played by Sladen) spent several seasons in the mid-'70s traveling through time and space with the Doctor. Now, decades later, she's a middle-aged single mother who looks and acts her age (a refreshing rarity on TV in the age of Botox and cosmetic surgery). The series has the same defiantly low-budget feel that's always made Doctor Who so much fun, especially when it comes to oh-so-obvious alien costumes and massive monster puppets. But ignore the cheesy effects, and The Sarah Jane Adventures stands out for its unique characters, unusual plots, and, above all, its original thinking.
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