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Choirs Of Angels

And we're back with the good stuff. New disc, and as if by magic, normal service has been resumed. In-jokes, gore, over-acting, peculiar lighting, and a story that's fun to watch. This one is actually one of the fan favourite episodes, and it's always good for a return visit. It's completely mental, obviously, but in all the right ways. Well, most of them. I'm not sure it makes a lot of sense, and the aliens' plan is ridiculously over-complicated; but since the high command are aware of that, and complain about it themselves, that makes it easier to forgive. Or sort of does. You do have to wonder why they went along with a daft plan in spite of the misgivings, but then that's probably another of those questions that one isn't supposed to ask.

The aliens have taken over a pop trio, and the three of them belt out a chorus of mind-altering verses. It's an experiment in subliminal messaging, and is to be inserted into some very special music, by a very special musician.

Or it will once it's all been specially altered, by a hash-up that seems to have been built out of some old speakers, a My First Tape Recorder, and a dead tree. I love the aliens' home-made technology.

And here we have our musician. In the show he's called Billy Carlos. In real life he's Billy Thorpe, who composed the War Of The Worlds theme tune. The music that he's prancing around to here, with his electric guitar and his inexplicable candles, is in fact the War Of The Worlds theme tune.

I know I mentioned over-acting in the intro. Did I mention blatant hamming to the camera?

Brainwash a nation today. All you need is a musician, a chunky plastic tape recorder, some swishy needle instrument things, and a suitably dramatic lack of light bulbs.

Subliminal messaging leads to orgasmic aliens.

The subliminal trickery is intended for a scientist, an expert in virology. It makes the music euphoric, addictive and mind-altering, leaving the listener insanely happy, and convinced that the aliens are really lovely. The plan is to brainwash him into making an antidote for the aliens' problem with Earth bacteria, as if they take him over instead, there's too much danger of him rotting away to nothing before he's finished. Predictably enough, however--

-- Harrison turns up for a visit a little while later. Probably also predictably, Harrison is a massive fan of Billy Carlos, and proceeds to bop about all over reception. The receptionist is wearing ear plugs, which explains why she hasn't been brainwashed too, but we're never told why the entire rest of the building hasn't been. But never mind.

The scientist, an old friend of Suzanne's, is delighted to meet a fellow fan of Billy Carlos, and he and Harrison geek out together about chord progression. Probably even more predictably than anything else, the scientist then gives Harrison a copy of the doctored tape.

By now approximately ninety-five percent of the episode has had the theme tune wailing, in shiny new electic guitar form, over it. Presumably complete with euphoria-inducing, addictive, alien subliminal messaging, which might explain why this episode has become so popular with the fans.

Harrison is very happy with his new tape, and proceeds to bop all over the place with it.

Other people do work. Or look at computer screens, I don't know. Harrison bops in briefly for a quick visit to chirp excitedly about how nice aliens are really, then bops off again. I'm not sure why Ironhorse and Norton don't get brainwashed too. Unless it's because they don't have brains.

Back at the scientist's lab (and I don't know why she isn't brainwashed either), Suzanne looks down a microscope. Don't know why, but she'll be doing it for most of the rest of the episode. That and answering the telephone.

The alien power trio return, to find out how the work is going on their antidote.

They've brought a gift of glowing alien brain stem juice, to help the operation. They have cheerfully murdered their own, and then squeezed their brains into a jar. I have to assume that this isn't usual behaviour with pop groups.

Funky eighties hi-fi! Currently blaring out you know what at full volume.

And Harrison's slightly less obviously eighties hi-fi. Ironhorse, by now presumably sick to the back teeth of the theme tune, attempts to turn it off. When this leads to Harrison ripping his throat out with his teeth in revenge, he predictably fails to suspect anything.

Harrison then enthusiastically expounds his new theory on how lovely the aliens are really, and how horrible the humans have been, and how the poor dear aliens just need somebody to hold their hands, and tuck them in at night.

Norton is a little spooked.

So's Ironhorse. They assume it's just Harrison being typically weird, though, and playing some kind of practical joke. Guys, I freely admit that Harrison's weird. But huh?!

Elsewhere, Suzanne looks down the telephone and chats on the microscope. She's having a busy day.

Then she finds some alien cells under one of the scientist's microscopes, which leads her to the glowing alien brain stem juice. The scientist growls, and tries to bite her head off.

But is happily distracted by the chance of a bit of air guitar.

Harrison mixes up an acid bath, and starts killing CDs that record the team's research, because it's all lies, and aliens are really lovely, honest. Ironhorse is forced to accept that it's probably not a practical joke after all. You think?

This leads to much over-acting.

And a quite impressive zombie impersonation.

Harrison clings to his hi-fi, muttering about Billy Carlos and aliens. Ironhorse begins to suspect that there might be a connection somewhere.

Suzanne rings up to say that the music has been doctored by aliens, and then explains everything that's going on, which she's figured out entirely just by looking down microscopes all episode. She's good. She's also in a laboratory with a known alien sympathiser, with aliens ringing up every five minutes to find out how the work is going, and clearly about to turn up on the premises. She therefore decides that staying where she is and looking down microscopes is probably the best plan. The rest of the team apparently agree, because they show no concern whatsoever.

Back at the safe house, it's time for Harrison to go on Billy Carlos cold turkey watch.

The zombie look is improving all the time.

Ironhorse's eyes go narrow, which means that he's determined. There will be no dangerously addictive music for Harrison. Except every week at the end of the show. And almost continuously for the rest of this episode.

Ironhorse stands guard, apparently all night, whilst Harrison moans about Billy Carlos and is generally quite annoying.

When he wakes up in the morning he's okay, though. Probably.

Or hopefully, anyway, since Ironhorse and Norton immediately recruit him to help them listen to the music he's dangerously addicted to, in order to figure out what's been done to it. This does not strike me as a particularly good idea.

Meanwhile the aliens turn up at the other place, eager for their antidote. They do love standing in formation. They clearly can't stop being a pop trio, even after being taken over by aliens. Suzanne pretends to be brainwashed in order to avoid being torn limb from limb. The aliens do actually say that they're going to kill her, which I assume was a line before a commercial break. Presumably they changed their minds before the break was over. We never find out why.

Harrison and Ironhorse, having finally decided that they should probably do something to help Suzanne, turn up to find that she doesn't need them. Suzanne inadvertently fries Harrison's brain with the Billy Carlos tape that she had playing to fool the aliens. Why that didn't happen in Norton's lab earlier is anybody's guess.

And the aliens go back home to their secret cave with the antidote, which Suzanne has poisoned with some ammonia. This leads to much screeching, thrashing and bubbling.

And gore.

Really quite a lot of it.

For about five minutes, in slow motion. Then the theme tune starts up and brainwashes everybody who's watching. This is probably a bad thing, but I've been brainwashed, so I have no idea why. Or possibly I do, and just don't care.

It's a good episode, anyway. A bit of variety in the music might have been nice, but it's hard to find any real faults otherwise. So long as you don't mind wild over-acting, anyway.

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