UK TV

Review: The Sarah Jane Adventures 2×1

In the UK: Mondays, 4.35pm, BBC1
In the US: The SciFi Channel again, probably

Last series of The Sarah Jane Adventures posed something of a dilemma. Obviously, being a spin-off of Doctor Who featuring a former Doctor Who companion, comparisons with the mother ship were inevitable. Thing was, the comparison invariably became "Don’t you think The Sarah Jane Adventures is more entertaining, more adult and more consistently higher quality than Doctor Who?" – even though ostensibly it was aimed at six year olds.

Now it’s back, packed with action, continuity references and Sarah Jane fun. So again we have to ask, which one’s better? We also have to ask, can we bear the shame of watching CBBC at our ages?

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US TV

Review: The Unit 4×1

The Unit

In the US: Sundays, 10/9c, CBS
In the UK: Bravo and Virgin One at some point, probably the New Year

When you get to the fourth year of a long-running show, you have a choice. Do you continue with the same old formula (cf House), or be a bit brave and mix things up (cf Lost)? The Unit might be forgiven for going for the easy option, given it was on the cusp of being cancelled at the end of last year.

But this is a manly show of the first order, in which brave special forces soldiers (who definitely aren’t Delta, honest guv’nor) risk their lives tackling threats foreign and domestic while their wives go through equal hells at home. Easy option?

The Unit spits in the face of the easy option

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The CarusometerA Carusometer rating of 3

Third-episode verdict: Privileged

Time for a third-episode verdict on The CW’s Privileged, in which a geeky writer has to tutor filthy rich spoilt teenagers in return for unfeasibly vast amounts of partying and luxury, as well as near-unlimited amounts of boyfriend potential. It’s a hard life, huh?

After a reasonably promising but flawed start, the show dropped off a notch, becoming more than a touch tedious, in fact. The usual mix-ups with the boss that the tutor has to fix, the antagonising squabbles with the eldest daughter, the fights with her own sister: it’s already starting to become a formula. The geeky teacher is also too geeky to be plausible.

However, given that the geek tutor is supposed to be the heroine, it’s a surprise to find that the elder, eviler daughter, Sage, and the protective relationship she has with her sister, Rose, is actually the most interesting aspect of the show. It’s more multi-dimensional than just about any other facet of the programme, and the fact that Sage is a complete bitch, but will do anything for Rose, is smart, more emotionally intelligent than geek girl and doesn’t become bestest pals with her inside the first two episodes does lift the show out of being a complete cartoon. In fact, if they focused less on geek girl and more on evil sister, it would probably be a more interesting, albeit darker programme.

All the same, if The CW was looking for a new Gossip Girl, they’ve come to the wrong place, since this clearly isn’t as smart and the other relationships are flat and hollow in comparison with the more fully developed characters on the rival show. Diverting, but ultimately nothing too special.

The CarusometerA Carusometer rating of 3

Third-episode verdict: Privileged

Time for a third-episode verdict on The CW’s Privileged, in which a geeky writer has to tutor filthy rich spoilt teenagers in return for unfeasibly vast amounts of partying and luxury, as well as near-unlimited amounts of boyfriend potential. It’s a hard life, huh?

After a reasonably promising but flawed start, the show dropped off a notch, becoming more than a touch tedious, in fact. The usual mix-ups with the boss that the tutor has to fix, the antagonising squabbles with the eldest daughter, the fights with her own sister: it’s already starting to become a formula. The geeky teacher is also too geeky to be plausible.

However, given that the geek tutor is supposed to be the heroine, it’s a surprise to find that the elder, eviler daughter, Sage, and the protective relationship she has with her sister, Rose, is actually the most interesting aspect of the show. It’s more multi-dimensional than just about any other facet of the programme, and the fact that Sage is a complete bitch, but will do anything for Rose, is smart, more emotionally intelligent than geek girl and doesn’t become bestest pals with her inside the first two episodes does lift the show out of being a complete cartoon. In fact, if they focused less on geek girl and more on evil sister, it would probably be a more interesting, albeit darker programme.

All the same, if The CW was looking for a new Gossip Girl, they’ve come to the wrong place, since this clearly isn’t as smart and the other relationships are flat and hollow in comparison with the more fully developed characters on the rival show. Diverting, but ultimately nothing too special.