The death of Elisabeth Sladen obviously meant the end of The Sarah Jane Adventures. After all, how could you ever replace her?
The simple premise encapsulated in the title, Wizards Vs Aliens tells the story of Tom (Scott Haran), a 16-year-old schoolboy caught up in a fight for the wizarding world’s survival against the Nekross: an alien race that roams the cosmos to gorge on magic. Along for the ride is his ‘unenchanted’ father (Michael Higgs), magical grandmother (Annette Badland) and genius best friend Benny (Percelle Ascott).
It starts bold, with its opening scene of a huge, striking spaceship interrupting a magical ceremony establishing straight away not only the show’s central concept, but its scale and ambition. It’s also within these first two episodes where the rules, relationships and deeper mysteries of the show are set up.
From there, the series follows a format where the low hum of the Nekross arc is ever present, but with each two-parter tackling it in wildly different ways. It certainly makes each week interesting, but with each story having a self-contained quality to it, the tone does tend to jar between episodes, notably the fun, throwaway ‘Grazlax Attacks’ and the surprisingly dark follow-up ‘Rebel Magic’.
What remains consistent, however, is the quality of the writing. Sharp, funny and clever, it embraces its young audience without patronising them. It helps, of course, that the cast delivering it do so with conviction – especially the likeable Haran and Gwendoline Christie, who as Nekross Lexi gets to show the fun and warmth she can’t as Brienne in Game Of Thrones.
All of which points towards something that, once it finds its feet, could indeed become something out of this magical world.