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Review: Sarah Jane Smith: 5 Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre


Blue Box Bill's picture

Blue Box Bill - Posted on 03 August 2012

Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre Cover Art

Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre: The Skinny: Episode 5 of the series features a reunion that proves to be... well, to say anymore would be to say too much. This story has more twists in it than a Chubby Checker dance marathon.

HEADLINE: PARAMBIKULAM-ALIYAR PROJECT IS UNDERWAY

Liner notes: A bio-warfare scandal from the 1940s takes Sarah to a remote island in the Indian Ocean. She pursues the scoop with a fellow journalist from her former company, Planet 3. But why won’t she contact her friends back in the UK? Josh and Natalie discover that Sarah has been searching for pursuers in the rear-view mirror for so long that she hasn’t noticed who’s now in the driving seat. A long way from home, and far from safe, will Sarah see the dangers in her present and the enemies from her past -- before it’s too late?

And now, the rest of the story...

Sarah isn't returning calls made to her by Nat and Josh. Why? While we don't know what either had to communicate it seems apparent that Sarah puts herself in harm's way through a lack of communication with her friends / team. This sort of behavior isn't typical of Sarah Jane.

Natalie doesn't appear in the previous story, Ghost Town (Episode 4), because she wanted out after learning that Sarah chose not to save her from a very real bomb threat (Episode 3, Test Of Nerve) the result being that Harris succeeds in driving a wedge between Sarah and her friends. Is Sarah testing Natalie's loyalty by not communicating with her or could Sarah believe that to save her friends she must face her enemies alone?

Big Finish has this to say about Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre, "The more she investigates the story, the less Sarah recognises that she IS the story. Josh and Natalie discover that Sarah has been searching for pursuers in the rear-view mirror for so long that she hasn’t noticed who’s now in the driving seat." I could not agree more.

This story is the most complex and arresting of the series so far. Cell phone SIMM cards and some vocabulary lessons about the proper use of words like "less" and "fewer" turn out to be far more than just incidental story devices.... so pay attention! There are even some rather transparently camouflaged lines about a certain robot dog that will put a smile on the face of die-hard Whovians.

Miss Winters is back. Miss Winters? Remember Think Tank in the Doctor Who story called Robot? Hilda Winters was the director of Think Tank. Sarah got off on the wrong foot with Hilda when she presumed that Miss Winters was secretary to the Director of Think Tank. Back then Hilda was bad news. And today? Well lets just say some things never change. The same is true of the performance turned in by Peter Miles as Dr. Brandt. You remember Mr. Miles, I'm sure. He portrayed Dr. Lawrence in Doctor Who and the Silurians, Professor Whitaker in Invasion of the Dinosaurs and Nyder in Genesis of the Daleks. A first class bad a_ _. Hello! This is still a family show.

The Doctor Who theme riff which is used in transitioning between one scene and the next is back and far less subtle this time around. That's okay. It keeps things tied together even though Sarah maintains that her memories of her time with the Doctor seem so distant that they don't seem to be her memories at all.

Sound design is first rate. Effects which enhance dialogue are in abundance here.
 
Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre earns a 5 MOBILE Rating.

What's this?

PRODUCTION NOTES: Cast: Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith); Jeremy James (Josh); Patricia Maynard (Miss Winters); Sadie Miller (Natalie Redfern); Robin Bowerman (Harris); Louise Faulkner (Wendy Jennings); Peter Miles (Dr. Brandt); Toby Longworth (Taxi Driver); Mark Donovan (Taxi Driver)

Writer: Peter Anghelides; Director: Gary Russell; Music: Davy Darlington; Sound Design: Davy Darlington; Cover Art: Lee Binding

Trailer link: Trailer_5_Mirror_Signal_Manoeuvre.mp3
Product link: http://bigfinish.com/Sarah-Jane-Smith
Detailed synopsis: http://www.drwhoguide.com/sj_05.htm

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