Buried Secrets

Posted in Audio by - April 02, 2018
Buried Secrets

Released November 2005

The first series of Sarah Jane Smith featured five different writers crafting an arc that stayed as much rooted in the past as it did looking to the present and beyond, the resulting path to the return of Hilda Winters and the setup for continued confrontations against her associates being an uneven one with wildly fluctuating tones and paces. Through it all, however, Elisabeth Sladen gave immense performances as always, and Jeremy James and Sadie Miller helped to create a uniquely dysfunctionally functional group that remained eminently enthralling. For the second series, David Bishop has overtaken sole writing duties, and ‘Buried Secrets’ opens with the news that Winters and Harris are both dead as Sarah believes herself safe from the actions of her past while others believe she still has a destiny yet to be fulfilled.

The Sarah on display here is a much less serious and grim one than in the previous series, her constant sense of paranoia gone as she happily lives life out of a caravan while donating to other peoples’ causes. It’s been a couple of years since the fateful confrontation with Miss Winters, and the jump that initially seems somewhat disconcerting helps to reconcile Sarah Jane a bit better with how she would soon appear on The Sarah Jane Adventures while also allowing Bishop to softly reboot this audio franchise by rebuilding the status quo and dispensing of an overreliance on plot elements that would have otherwise needed to be carried over to continue the narrative. Still, Sarah receiving a letter from beyond the grave from Miss Winters stating that Sarah is far more important than anyone could have known with an ominous warning, a letter she knows is genuine because of the handwriting that matches that of the letters she regularly received while Winters was imprisoned, is a nice link to what has come before while setting the scene for the momentous events yet to come.

With Josh unable to hold a regular job because of the banality of it all compared to his time with Sarah and Natalie actually seeming to enjoy life once again as she studies abroad and meets a man, the shifting dynamics between the three leads ensures that no one character falls into a developmental lull as sometimes happened in the first series. As news breaks that the launch of the first shuttle to take tourists to space has been pushed forward, Sarah once more keeps her annual rendezvous with Harry Sullivan, knowing that he will not show up after so long away but hoping beyond hope that she is wrong. When the brother Harry never spoke of, Will, shows up in his place and eventually reveals that he will be acting as the doctor at the Antarctic expedition Sarah just happens to be helping fund, it’s clear that these two together will have many continuing interactions, perhaps ones slightly skewed by her affection for her longtime friend. In the present, however, a missing body found in an ancient tomb at Natlie’s excavation site quickly reveals and ties into The Book of Tomorrows that hints at aliens guiding human development while also heralding a contemporary apocalypse. Two branches have resulted from this ancient text, the White Chapter believing that aliens will arrive to take people away to safety and the Crimson Chapter believing that aliens will be the culprits behind the devastation. With a woman named Sarah with her features listed as a seer of the future and the foretold prophet, Sarah’s trip to San Martino in ‘The Masque of Mandragora’ suddenly takes on new prevalence and adds an immense amount of continuity to these events and the cult that also funded Miss Winters’s previous exploits.

Like ‘Comeback’ to start off series one, ‘Buried Secrets’ is quite light on plot in order to reintroduce and set up its characters. As a result, Sarah almost stumbles straight into problem and its resolution, but it still reveals the overarching plot of this second series while tying together the first quite succinctly even if the culprit is all too predictable and the ending with Josh in a familiar situation saving Sarah is becoming all too commonplace. With a truly tremendous performance from Sladen highlighted during her immense monologue with Harry as the brother she never knew, however, this is a strong entry that is both familiar and different at the same time and bodes well for the remaining three stories and the new trajectory planned as both Antarctica and outer space loom large under the threat of an impending apocalypse.

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