Invasion of the Bane

Roots: The name Bubbleshock may be a recycling of Bubbleshake from Gareth Roberts' The Highest Science, the archetype's lack of bellybutton may be inspired by Lungbarrow. Sarah's road name is clearly a nod to Delta and the Bannermen. There are mentions of Angelina Jolie, the Biblical book of Revelation (Wormwood), WH Smiths, Girl Guides, Childline, Hollyoaks, the Pope, and James Blunt. We see Blue Peter.

Goofs: How can Maria's house have broadband when they only moved in yesterday? It usually takes at least a week to get a phone line installed in a new house, let alone broadband on top of that.

How can a new foodstuff like Bane be marketed as organic? Surely groups like the Soil Association would be up in arms against it.

If, as Sarah says, she only started investigating alien activity after meeting the Doctor again, then what exactly was she up to in School Reunion?

Why doesn't Sarah's wrist scanner detect that Bubbleshock contains a living alien being earlier in the story? It's hardly the first time it's been close to the stuff.

If the Bane are sensitive to mobile phone signals, why does activating an alien communications device designed to communicate across interstellar distances have the same effect, only stronger? Especially if it calls their own number, which they would never set up to cause that effect.

Dialogue Triumphs: Maria: "How would you know if you were going mad?"
Alan: "Ask your mother, she's the expert."

Sarah: "Maria, two types of people in the world. People who panic, and then there's us."

Continuity: Maria Jackson's parents have divorced, her mum has a [boyfriend] called Ivan (with a long a), but still remains friendly with Maria's dad, who's called Alan. Her mum wanted the money from their old house, forcing Maria and her dad to move to a house across the road from Sarah Jane Smith.

Sarah has a much bigger house than the one seen in The Five Doctors. She has contacts in the city and amongst scientists. She doesn't care what people think of her, and never has - she just cares about the truth. She was always going to choose Luke as a name for her son if she ever had one. She had trouble adjusting to normal life after leaving the Doctor, and only got back into fighting alien monsters after meeting him again (School Reunion, although see goofs). Rule one of her dangerous life is that she never puts anyone else in danger. She lives at 13 Bannerman Road. Her car registration plate is J590 MAX. Titles on her bookshelf include The Tumbled House by Winston Graham, The Short Stories of HG Wells, and Rider from Rifle Rock by Gladwell Richardson. Her body still contains residual artron energy, background radiation from her travels through the space-time vortex. However, in all other ways she is an average human. She carries a watch with some kind of sensor technology, and sonic lipstick (a sonic screwdriver disguised as a lipstick). Her loft contains alien technology, including a spray which turns a Bane back to its human disguise, and which leaves a black goo where the Bane falls. Sarah says that this is the last one of these sprays. It also has photos of the Brigadier and Harry Sullivan, sketches of a Dalek, a photo of Sarah with K9 and another dog, artwork depicting the TARDIS, a communicator given to her by a Star Poet from Archatene 5, and an alien computer called Mr Smith which can hack into almost anything.

Kelsey worships Hollyoaks.

The bubbleshock bus goes into town for free every half hour, and takes you to the bubbleshock factory. Two percent of people don't like bubbleshock, but the rest love it. It is claimed that it revitalises your tastebuds. The company appeared from nowhere, and got EU approval to market their new foodstuff within two weeks, rather than the years of tests that it usually takes. [Presumably this refers to the Bane ingredient rather than the rest of Bubbleshock.] Bane resists all attempts to analyse it. It consists of fresh fruit juice, pure spring water, and Bane. The Bane mother can be hurt by a mobile phone. The Bane disguise themselves as humans using Image Translators. The Bane Mother eats the children who fail her. Each bottle of bubbleshock includes a piece of living Bane. The Bane are sensitive to mobile phone signals.

The archetype was created by the Bane. He was born 360 minutes before Sarah scans him. He has no bellybutton. He was created from all the data the Bane collected from the 10,000 visitors to the bubbleshock factory, with the aim of discovering how to make everybody like Bane. He has a very good memory.

Sarah mentions that the government knows all about aliens, and mentions secret organisations dedicated to finding them, but they tend to go in all guns blazing (UNIT), and mentions her time in the TARDIS. She tried to forget it for years, before meeting the Doctor again.

A scientific project in Switzerland created a black hole. K9 sealed it off to prevent it swallowing up the Earth. He's been plugging up the distortion for a year and a half, and every so often his co-ordinates have to shift. At certain points, he appears in an area of space accessible to Sarah through a safe in her attic. He does not know how long it will take him to completely seal the breach.

Links: Alien the same species as in Greeks Bearing Gifts. Sarah's attic has pictures of the Brigadier and Harry Sullivan, and she suggests the names Alistair and Harry for the archetype. The sonic lipstick can't open a deadlock seal (School Reunion). There are references to Sarah's travels with the Doctor, and her meeting him again (School Reunion). K9 (K9 and Company, The Five Doctors, School Reunion) makes a brief appearance.

Location: Ealing, at least 18 months after School Reunion.

The Bottom Line: 'In the words of your young ones: Bring it on.' This is a fantastic first episode. Unlike the first episode of Torchwood, or even like Rose, Invasion of the Bane isn't so caught up in introducing the premise of the show that it fails to give us a decent plot in its own right. Maria and the archetype are fantastic additions to the whoniverse, and play very well against both each other and Sarah. Mrs Wormwood and Davey are fantastic as the kind of villain you expect on a good children's drama series, and the Bane are well realised, even if the CGI is very obvious. If there's any fault to be found in this story, it's either the mildly irritating Kelsey, or the fact that this feels very much like the CBBC Children's show it actually is. Some adult viewers may not like the style, but then this is very clearly designed as a children's program, rather than a family program.

Discontinuity Guide by Stephen Gray

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