Tomorrow night sees the start of Torchwood's second season on BBC America. But the U.S. hasn't yet gotten the best spin-off from the BBC's Doctor Who: the Sarah Jane Adventures. Even though Torchwood is (supposedly) aimed at adults and Sarah Jane is for kids, the kiddie show is actually way more fun and brilliant. Click through for four reasons why.
In case you missed both of them, Torchwood and Sarah Jane each star a former Doctor Who companion. Torchwood has the queer rake from the future, Captain Jack. And Sarah Jane (duh) features Sarah Jane Smith, the reporter who followed the Doctor around and screamed a lot in the mid 1970s. Who would ever have thought that a middle-aged Sarah Jane would be more fun than the sexy adventures of Jack? But here's why:
Sarah Jane saves the world and squishes monsters. And she doesn't scream any more. Captain Jack and his team of scowling wankers deal with petty alien crimes, clean up their own messes, screw each other, and argue about it. And make dumb jokes. Here's Sarah Jane being menaced by evil nuns!
Captain Jack is a shitty boss. He's sassy and fun as the Doctor's sidekick, but when he's in charge he becomes an uptight middle manager. Sarah Jane is more like a den mom than a boss, but she's still a way better leader than the Cap. Most of all, she and her cast-mates actually care about each other, instead of just bickering.
Sarah Jane is dead sexy. She'll put on a welding mask and build a giant energy-detector from scraps, then blow you a kiss while exploding your alien spaceship. Captain Jack used to be sexy, when he was a rogue.
The Sarah Jane Adventures is more like Doctor Who. Yes, it's aimed at kids, but it has enough cleverness and subversiveness for adults. And it's fun and has a genuine emotional core to it. Torchwood, by contrast, seems like the show where Russell T. Davies and friends do all the queer innuendo and nastiness they couldn't get away with on Doctor Who. But it has none of the charm and dazzle that Davies puts into Who.