Posts Tagged ‘The Vault of Secrets’

It would, of course, be missing the point on a fundamental level to criticise a kids’ TV show for being like a kids’ TV show. It doesn’t really make sense. And yet it’s a sign of just how solid and impressive SJA so frequently is, that when it does go a little off-form it’s inevitably a particular disappointment.
 Off-form is in the eye of the beholder, obviously, and no doubt there are plenty of younglings out there who lapped up this week’s slightly silly and disjointed story of reptilian body-hoppers, slightly camp androids and comedy UFO-spotters. There was something there for junior continuity-spotters too, as the tale stitched together the bad guy from last years’ SJA season opener and the alien-covering-up androids from the Dreamland cartoon (what with one thing and another, these guys must be the most ineffectual bunch of mechanicals in Who-world – and that’s up against some pretty stiff opposition). There was even a throwaway moment of pure magic for the elderly viewer, with a tantalising glimpse of the Osiran ruins on Mars.

Doing such a classy reference to what’s possibly my favourite story of them all put me in a very good and forgiving temper where The Vault of Secrets was concerned, which was probably just as well. For the most part it hung together fairly well, but parts of the story were just too absurd to be credible – the comedy characters were no more nor less than simple cut-outs (who would actually name their organisation BURPSS, for heaven’s sake?). The reset-button ending revolving around one of the main characters having her memory erased left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth, as well. Even Torchwood in an off week got this kind of thing right – how could you do something like that to someone you really cared about?

It wasn’t all bad, and I may just be letting my dislike of Phil Ford’s style of storytelling cloud my judgement (Mona Lisa’s Revenge remains possibly the worst thing to have emerged from Upper Boat, though). Nice prosthetics and effects work, and it rattled along well enough – and, with no disrespect intended to Tommy Knight, losing a regular character seems to have loosened the show up a bit now that it’s no longer struggling to accommodate the full quartet every story. Shame they had to get rid of the dog as well, though, but I suspect that decision was down to the lawyers.

Anyway, not what I would call a classic outing, but then I prefer this show when it isn’t being played for laughs. Fingers crossed the programme makers and I will see eye-to-eye again soon.

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