The Curse of Clyde Langer

Posted in Episode by - December 02, 2022
The Curse of Clyde Langer

Aired 10 – 11 October 2011


It’s raining fish from the skies, and Sarah Jane’s investigations lead her crew to the Museum of Culture where the ancient god Hetocumtek just may offer answers in Phil Ford’s ‘The Curse of Clyde of Langer.’ When Clyde touches the totem pole on display, however, his friends and family callously eliminate him from their lives and leave him alone to survive on the streets.

The Sarah Jane Adventures has never diluted or sugar-coated its explorations of the ills within society despite its intended target audience, and ‘The Curse of Clyde Langer’ gives an open and honest look at the plight of homelessness, both through those experiencing it and through society’s reaction and inaction. It adeptly points out that sometimes the most alien world is this one since people refuse to actually look at and acknowledge what is around them, and this episode brilliantly accentuates Clyde’s loneliness, helplessness, and despair as the mere sight or mention of his name turns everyone he knows and loves against him. It likewise emotionally shows how a common courtesy like helping a homeless person get a sandwich does not necessarily make one sympathetic to the homeless plight, but Clyde quickly learns what it means to be isolated from society at large while managing to forge a strong relationship with Lily Loveless’s Ellie. Daniel Anthony and she develop an immense chemistry straight away that allows an air of hope and optimism to pervade this plotline as Clyde begins to plan how these two might survive together. It’s only natural that there should be something of a romantic undertone to their interactions as time progresses, and this entire storyline that sees Clyde go from utter despair to showing a defiant determination to make the best of the hand he has been dealt allows Anthony to give one of his strongest performances to date.

Ellie, of course, could have made for a fascinating recurring character in any other situation, but her fleeting presence in Clyde’s life is sadly fitting given the social plight that she represents. Nonetheless, it is heartening that the Night Dragon Ellie continues to speak of if actually something more helpful than harmful for the homeless population, allowing this story to avoid the relatively more common and disheartening plot of having an unseen or undesired portion of the population serving as unwitting pawns or sacrifices in another evil force’s schemes. And while it’s certainly not unexpected, it’s fitting to see that Bannerman Road newcomer Sky is unaffected by the apparent curse, allowing her to build upon the incredible friendship she has already developed with Clyde while doggedly asking despite the protests and anger she gets in return just what could have caused everyone to turn against him so suddenly and violently. Sinead Michael imbues an immense amount of charm to Sky’s inquisitiveness, and her innocence and determination already showcase what a strong addition she will be to Sarah Jane’s crew and what a relatable voice she can already be for the audience.

Naturally, Clyde knows that his friends and mother are not themselves when they lash out against him and disown him, but that doesn’t make the words and sentiments expressed any less powerful or resonant. However, the unyielding feelings of loss that Sarah Jane, Rani, and Daniel’s mother feel despite not knowing why allow Elisabeth Sladen, Anjli Mohindra, and Jocelyn Jee Esien to show an understated but immense range of emotions that in a very unique fashion highlights just how important Clyde is to everyone he meets. Indeed, the actual story about homelessness, loss, and hope is such a strong one that the actual reason for the curse via the Native American totem pole comes off as strangely lacking and ultimately more of a background element rather than integral component. Its history and shaman story don’t completely align either, though this may be due to its purported alien nature, and the resolution is far too easy given the immense emotional toll it leaves in its wake. These are minor quibbles in such an incredibly poignant episode that highlights the very best of Daniel Anthony especially, though, providing a truly powerful insight into society and Clyde along the way.

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