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Get your tasty alien slime here

As episode four begins, Amanda Tucker lurks in a strangely diagonal corridor, gazing at her arm. The cuts on it (from where she wrote her splendidly unfathomable message back in episode one) are gradually turning yellow, and beginning to dribble with alien slime. Or mustard. Could be either.

So we're off again, then. And oh look, we've acquired a new high-ranking pillock. He's played by a respected actor, which is good, but since he's yet another senior officer who refuses to accept the possibility of aliens, the good stops there. Mind you, we do get a lovely scene where Terrell explains what he's been doing all these years, and the new high-ranking pillock eyes him with splendid scepticism. After that it's back to the alien being a freak-of-nature human enemy, and the spaceship being a highly developed Russian aircraft. This is 1997. Russia could barely afford a helicopter, let alone a shiny new wing-less plane full of pretty lights and colours. But anyway. Elsewhere, having had not a single line of dialogue since episode one, poor Wingco Friday slices his arm open, and throws himself into a reservoir. I'm beginning to know how he feels. Who cast Christopher Fairbank in this role?! He's a good actor! There's precious few of them in this production, and relegating one to a role that requires him simply to mooch about for a bit and then kill himself seems absurd to the extreme. Still, there he goes, in a cloud of blood. Goodbye, Wingco Friday. You would have been good, had you ever spoken.

Meanwhile, Drake is talking to Terrell again. Now, far be it for me to complain about a scene featuring Terrell, but I wish they'd find him somebody else to talk to. Can't we have the new high-ranking pillock back? At least he has different facial expressions. Drake tries to goad Terrell into giving them some useful information to help fight the nDs, by going on about him having run away and hid for fifty years. Hang on. Time dilation, remember. We're supposed to believe that for him it's only been seven. Or two. Or something. But never mind. Terrell tells him that it's all hopeless, and they're all going to die. Still, Anton Lesser is famous for having the nicest voice in television, so the news that the Earth is doomed actually sounds all right coming from him. Not sure Drake quite appreciates that, but then everyone's a critic.

Elsewhere again, Essence Of Friday is permeating its way into the water supply, making lots of people sick; and Tucker's arm is growing progressively more yellow and slimy. She has bits of alien matter chopped out of it, whilst the rest of the cast plot to catch themselves an nD, by using Terrell's ship as bait. Poor Terrell tells them it's nuts, but as usual nobody bothers to listen to him. He is, after all, only the last being left alive with knowledge of the nD, and he did only fly light years through space in an effort to share his knowledge with the people of Earth. So there's not really any point in listening to him, is there.

Anyway, sarcasm aside (not really), he's not on board with Project: Idiocy. Oh, how I wish they'd listened to him. Tucker manages to convince him to help, though, mostly by waving her arm at him, and bribing him with a nice set of camouflage clothing. This should, of course, convince nobody, but Terrell is caught up in a plot of somebody else's devising, and he has no choice. He agrees to take part in Project: Attempt To Trap A Giant Alien Beastie That We Can't Possibly Fight, because Jed sodding Mercurio said that he had to. Terrell therefore reports to a large shed, and - proving oddly competent on a 1997 Earth computer - types out a message to the nDs saying here I am, come and get me. Not sure why the nDs want him specifically, other than the obvious fact that he's oddly adorable, and looks like he'd make a good pet, but want him they do. Terrell, please leave. Now. Just turn around and walk away. But no, he's determined to be all brave and self-sacrificing, as usual. Stop being brave, you pillock, and think about the viewers for a moment, can't you?! But an nD comes, and everybody fails to trap it, and it proceeds with its Terrell-napping. He begs Drake to kill him before he's taken, and Drake does just that. And so the lifeless body of the show's sole saving grace vanishes into another dimension, and we're left with a lot of people growling clichés at each other in overly dramatic voices. Huzzah. Interestingly this is where the novelisation ended. Presumably the author realised what most of the TV viewers did, and gave up once Terrell left. Sadly, however, the TV series isn't nearly so sensible. There's another two episodes of this left to go. Maybe the cast will surprise us by suddenly becoming competent? Maybe the dialogue will suddenly improve? Maybe somebody will shoot Chris Drake? Or maybe none of the above? Gosh, I can't wait to find out which it is. In the meantime, here are some pictures.


Would you like some fried onions with that, Amanda?


Wingco Friday stands on top of a reservoir, having finally reached the end of his patience with the script. He's leaving, and he's taking half of Scotland with him. Having seen the series so far, half of Scotland is in no mood to argue.


Not looking too well, is he.


No, they're not aliens, they're Russians. No, that's not a spaceship, it's an aeroplane. Terrell's clearly hacked into the army database, or had plastic surgery, or just happens to be the spitting image of somebody who vanished fifty-four years ago, and no I'm not an idiot. What makes you say that?


Amanda remembers that she has a daughter long enough to send her away. The daughter isn't a giant, incidentally. Amanda is kneeling on the ground for no readily apparent reason.


In the strangely diagonal Scotland that we seem to have been transported into for much of this episode, lots of people begin drinking Friday.


Amanda Tucker tries to persuade Terrell to stop being so sensible, and to come and be an idiot with the rest of the cast. Now, in the novelisation, she strongly suggests that he and our alien search and rescue friend were lovers. She then wins him over by exploiting his loyalty both to his lover and to his adopted race, making reference to the sacrifice they made in their determination to prevent the nDs from winning. In the TV series, she just shows him her sore arm and says she has faith. One of these arguments is just a little more convincing than the other one, isn't it.


Terrell finally accepts that there's no escaping the script. And hey, at least he's getting some clothes out of the deal. It must have been getting rather chilly sitting around in all those grim holding cells in what looks suspiciously like a pair of pyjamas.


Jo Dow gets to model a nice headpiece. He actually gets some dialogue in this episode! Much of it isn't really worth saying, but he is at least doing better than Christopher Fairbank, so I suppose I shouldn't complain.


Extraordinarily Wooden Boffin gets annoyed at the military interference, and storms out. Bizarrely, General Reece then goes to get him back. Why?! Just be glad that he's gone! Reece tells him that they "can't do any of this without you." Yes you can. All he's doing is trying to work out how to operate bits of Terrell's ship. If you'd stop suspecting Terrell of working with giant swirly, and just ask him where the 'on' switch is, you could save yourselves a lot of bother; and us the extra exposure to Professor Wood. But the boffin is mollified, and back he comes. Oh isn't that nice.


The main players in Project: Does Anybody Really Think This Is A Good Idea? convene in a large shed. Why it's dark in there, I have no idea. You'd think they'd want to see what they're doing while they're trying to ensnare a giant alien beastie, but apparently not. For some reason this entire episode takes place in dimly lit rooms. Did Scotland forget to pay its electricity bill?


A Terrell-hunting nD materialises in a cage. I'm a little concerned as to why the military keeps large cages just lying about the place. What do they use them for?


Ghostbustered!


But not for long.


Yes, that's going to be a big help, Drake. It's blasting its way out of a huge cage and a steel crate, but don't worry! I've got a small pistol.


Now that's what I call an escape.


It's big gun time!


Everybody's got a big gun. Except Drake. And Terrell, obviously.


The nD leaps about the place, completely unconcerned by the bullets and the big guns; which is hardly a surprise given that it just blew itself up in order to escape. It then zaps itself back into another dimension, before popping out again right behind Terrell. Bastard.


It knows what it wants, that's for sure. I can't really say that I blame it. If I was going to abduct a member of the cast, he's certainly the one that I'd choose. The others would be sure to drive even super-powered alien beasties mad within the space of five minutes. Couldn't it at least have waited until episode six, though?!


Drake gives in to Terrell's request to be killed, before he can be aliened. Actually, I think he's just trying to follow Christopher Fairbank's example, and escape from the script. At no point does he actually try to get away from the alien. He just stands there and asks to be shot. If you look closely in the next scene, you can spot Jo Dow wondering why he didn't try the same thing.


Bye bye Terrell. I'm sure the world appreciates your efforts to save it, even though absolutely nobody bothered paying any attention to them.


Reece attempts to give everybody a pep talk. All right, people. I know we've just lost our only decent character, but we can carry on the fight without him. For see, I can shout clichés in a dramatic voice! With talents like these, we can save the world!

How is it that the main cast always manage to be in front? How does that work, within the story? Are the extras aware that they're only extras, so they stand politely in the back? Is this one of the rules of Fiction Land? Why is it so bloody dark? And does Squadron Leader Knox still believe that they're fighting Russians? Find out the answers to these and other exciting questions in your all-action episode five. Maybe.


Drake tries to convince Tucker that everything is going to be all right, but she's afraid that she's gradually turning into an alien, and the world is ending, and their enemy is unbeatable, and the canteen is out of milk. "Tell me what I can do!" he bellows at her. Well you can turn the bloody light on, for a start.


Left alone, Tucker gazes at herself in a mirror. Sadly she doesn't then do an Agent Cooper. She just sighs a bit, and we leave it there.

This show doesn't go in for cliffhangers, so much as cliffgloomydroops. I want it to feel bleak, and consequently dramatically effective, but it just doesn't. Shouldn't hopelessness feel a little more empty than this?

Comments

( 6 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
elenopa
Nov. 15th, 2010 07:17 pm (UTC)
There was a novelisation?

And you read it!?
swordznsorcery
Nov. 15th, 2010 09:04 pm (UTC)
Guilty as charged. :)

It's by Peter Cave, who used to write New Avengers and Taggart novelisations. I picked it up in a charity store a few years back, wondering if the story wouldn't be too bad without the awful acting getting in the way. It's still hampered by nothing much ever happening, but it's certainly a lot better than the series. A bit more colour here and there, that sort of thing. Does come to rather an abrupt ending, though. Drake shoots Terrell, and thinks something about how the fight will continue, whatever it takes. Except it doesn't, as the book just stops there. I suspect the author couldn't face any more.
ladygretchen
Nov. 16th, 2010 02:41 am (UTC)
I'm not too big on alien shows and movies, (Only really liked MIB 1, Independence Day and Galaxy Quest (That so needed a sequel!)

I never saw this, but after reading your hilarious and cut-throat commentary, I know I didn't miss a thing! Now to go back and read the last few entries on this. It's so amusing. :)
swordznsorcery
Nov. 16th, 2010 02:18 pm (UTC)
You haven't missed a lot, no! It's been an interesting one to write about. Usually the shows I talk about here are ones that I like, even if I do mock them a little. This is the first one that I really dislike. I set out trying not to be too critical, but it's not easy!
ladygretchen
Nov. 16th, 2010 02:46 am (UTC)
Oh, okay, one more alien thing I like, I really love 'The day of the Triffids.' I've seen the original sixties movie and the early eighties BBC production. I just find it a great story, hilarious, but fascinating. John Wyndham wrote the book, and one called the Chrsyalids, which was a cool read, it should be a movie! I like post-apocolyptic science fiction.
swordznsorcery
Nov. 16th, 2010 02:20 pm (UTC)
Wyndham's good. There should be more adaptations of his stuff. The BBC recently did a new version of Triffids, which aired here over Christmas last year. Not bad, if a little rushed. There was a terrific adaptation of "Chocky" back in about 1981, which I love. Surprised there haven't been more.
( 6 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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