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You mean it wasn't Russians, then? Really?

Episode five, then. When we left, Earth was caught in a terrible crisis. The unstoppable nDs have a dastardly plan underway to poison Scotland; the only good character is dead; and although we've now been joined by John Shrapnel, he's playing an aggravating pillock. Anton Lesser and Christopher Fairbank have both been removed from the picture, leaving Jo Dow as the sole hope for mankind. And he still hasn't had a single decent scene. Maybe in episode five things will improve? Maybe we're about to see an abrupt change for the better? Maybe somebody will finally turn on a light? Maybe I'll stop asking stupid questions? The answer is probably a resounding no all round. But golly, won't it be fun finding out.

Around Scotland, people are getting progressively more sick due to drinking bits of Friday; whilst back at Alien Fighting HQ, boffins are using essence of half-mutated Tucker arm to try to find a way to poison the nDs. As always, General Reece is on hand to be hilariously over-dramatic about everything. Tucker and Drake seem to be trying to have a romance, but it's not easy to care too much about that. Happily Drake blows it by being freaked out by the mutating arm.

Wooden boffin seems to be a little less wooden now. This is good. General Reece, on the other hand, is getting progressively worse, which rather cancels out the improvement. On the plus side, the boffins isolate a possible toxin to use against the nDs, and decide to inject Tucker with it. I've been wanting to do something similar since episode one, although admittedly for rather different reasons.

Meanwhile, in the outside world, the Friday sickness is getting worse, leading to lots of urgent talk about medical conditions. Tucker and Drake go to see if they can help with the medical crisis, which means even more exposure than usual to the terrors of Drake's dialogue delivery. Still, visiting the outside world does at least mean that we get a few scenes set outside, which gives us a little more light. Not much, as Scotland has chosen to wear its greyest skies for the occasion, but at least it's briefly possible to see something other than shadows.

Back inside lots of very dark rooms, the alien sickness continues apace. The nDs amuse themselves by kidnapping the victims, and returning them temporarily cured. Bearing in mind how quickly they do this, it's a bit odd that somebody is able to see the giant swirly arrive at a disappeared patient's house, and call the police, and the police are then able to rush around from the station to her house, arriving in time to see the giant swirly posting her back. Are the police hopping through dimensions as well? Tucker tells the police what's going on, in a brilliantly naff exchange of dialogue, and fortunately the police are good enough to just believe it, without insisting that it's probably Russians.

The bouncing patients, and their mysteriously disappearing and reappearing illness, has given Tucker ideas, meanwhile. The illness causes increased serotonin production; then the nDs kidnap the patients; then the patients return with decreased serotonin levels; then the illness kicks in again, and the process is repeated. Tucker deduces from this that the nDs are farming humans for serotonin, and that, because they can't last in Earth's atmosphere - not sure how she knows this, as they seem to be doing okay in it so far - they're going to need an agent on Earth to farm the serotonin for them. Consquently she immediately becomes convinced that they've chosen her to be their milkmaid. I should probably feel sorry for her, as she's quite sure that her mutated arm means her destiny lies in sucking serotonin out of people, and then posting it off into the ether, but this is all just so dull. This episode consists entirely of people walking around in dark corridors, or standing in dark rooms, explaining to each other what's going on. Occasionally, for a bit of variety, they go and stand outside, but it doesn't improve the dialogue. Talk talk talk. Dull dull dull. There's nothing wrong with dialogue-heavy programmes - any fan of The West Wing will agree to that - but it has to be interesting dialogue, and preferably delivered well. This is like being stuck in a really boring seminar, led by a professor who should have been retired years ago.

Back in the plot, there's a brief flurry of activity. Having decided that their toxin trial on Tucker has been a success, the medical boffins supply the soldiers with poisonous bullets, and they spend a fun five minutes hurtling about, blasting at repeated nD incursions. Head medical boffin then decides to dose up the sick locals with the toxin, so that when the nDs next kidnap them, they'll infect their whole biosystem. This give Reece some splendidly dramatic dialogue about the price of victory, which probably isn't meant to be nearly so entertaining.

The nDs nab the infected patients and then abruptly go quiet, inspiring lots of enthusiastic declarations that it's all over, with nobody seeming in the least bit worried that there's still another episode left to go. Then - bang! - there's a huge, quivery, slimy, grey mountain in the middle of town. Okay then.

Incidentally, if you're worried that you may have drunk some of Wing Commander Friday recently, or you're beginning to secrete alien slime, you may wish to call 0800 975 5728, and ask to speak to a government advisor.

Here, have some exciting pictures.

Chief Medical Boffin sits in a dark room, and tries to design a toxin that will defeat the nDs. Sadly there's no money left in this year's Extraterrestrial Invasion budget to pay for light bulbs, so she has to do all of her research huddled against her computer screen in order to see her test tubes.

Drake and Tucker stand in a dark corridor and talk about what's happened.

Then they stand in a slightly different bit of corridor, and talk some more about what's happened. And a bit about what's happening now. Look, there's daylight outside, damn it! Go and stand in that! Or at least pull up the blinds.

Drake and General Reece swap growly dramatics in yet another different bit of dark corridor.

Elsewhere, a terrified victim of Friday Disease wonders why her doctor is trying to examine her in the dark. She clearly feels that she should have gone to BUPA. I bet they have light bulbs.

Drake and Tucker discuss what's happening again. They're outside this time, but are still in a perpetual gloom. I'm sure it's all meant to be very meaningful, and illustrative of the mood of the show, but it's even worse than sodding Firefly. Buy a bloody torch!

Or not.

After spending a bit of time in town with Drake and Tucker, Jo Dow briefly edges a little closer to actual involvement in the plot. Thoughtfully, General Reese saves him from any hope of being useful by sending him back to base to pointlessly answer telephones. Diagonally, for some reason. And also in the dark.

Light! Praise be for the bad guys.

It's 'Blast Everything That Moves With Poisonous Bullets' time! And they really do blast everything. The whole of Scotland is now peppered with bullet holes. The collateral damage must have been immense. On the plus side, anybody accidentally shot won't be at risk from the poison; always supposing that they manage to survive being blasted in the head by a stray giant bullet.

Reece and Drake are apparently hunting nDs in a fun house.

I didn't invert this shot, honest. They just randomly run through a door upside down.

There's another one up there!

And another one! I rather like this sequence. Nothing happens in it, other than shouting and gunfire, but at least nobody is attempting to recap the plot, or explain what's going on in minute detail. Also, there's gunfire. I could do without all the gratuitous diagonality, admittedly, but it's another box ticked in the cliché bingo. Always nice to get a full house.

Oh look, it's dark again. That makes a change.

Air Marshall John Shrapnel witnesses an nD kidnapping some toxin-laced patients, and finally has to accept that they're not dealing with Russians. Well done.

Very noticeably there is actually a light on the ceiling right behind him, but it's still sodding dark! Stop with the gloom already! We get the point!

Now that the top brass have finally accepted they're in trouble, they agree to send in reinforcements. What, so Scotland being invaded by deadly Russians didn't warrant reinforcements, but aliens do? The threat is still the same, you know. It didn't suddenly become more dangerous just because the opposition comes from a little further away.

Tucker decides to go and sit in a dark room for a bit, probably pondering her future life as a serotonin gatherer.

Then everybody joins her, possibly to discuss the nationwide light bulb shortage, or possibly to discuss whether they should club together to buy a candle.

"Oh Chris. It's been days now. Do you think we shall ever see another light bulb again?"

"We must have faith, Amanda. We shall not let Terrell and his friends die in vain. Together you and I can restore Scotland's light bulb supply!"

"Oh Chris. Now let's explain the plot again, just in case there's somebody who hasn't got it yet."

"I've just seen something really important on my laptop, everybody! No idea what it is, as I can't see a thing, but it's beeping, so it must be good!"

Turns out it's a giant mountain. See, all the nDs really wanted Scotland for was the skiing possibilities. They aren't so bad after all.

So, we're nearly there, then. As we approach the final episode, what last surprises await us in the thrilling denouement? Will Scotland be saved from its light bulb crisis? Will Drake learn to act? Will Jo Dow ever be given something to do? Or will somebody take pity on me, and just nuke the entire cast? I can't wait to find out.

No, wait. Yes I can.


( 7 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
Nov. 17th, 2010 06:57 pm (UTC)
I had the biggest laugh with 'it's even worse than sodden Firefly!' LOL! I didn't care for that show, 'cept for Adam Baldwin, but loved the Serenity movie...though it was still too dark. Maybe all these aliens want to do is bring them some light bulb supplies? I can't wait for the final post!
Nov. 17th, 2010 08:11 pm (UTC)
I loathed Firefly. Having loved Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel so much, I guess I was expecting too much of it. I reviewed it at the time, so those posts are probably around here somewhere, but if you liked Adam Baldwin's character, I'd advise not reading them. ;)
Nov. 17th, 2010 10:29 pm (UTC)
Oh goodness! haha. I can take it. I'm not a firefly fan really. I guess I'd have to pick Jayne if I had a favorite though. I think Kaylee and River annoyed me the most.
Nov. 17th, 2010 08:15 pm (UTC)
Firefly Rocks!

I really don't remember much of this plot. I thought the location in Scotland had something to do with the high proportion of women? and didn't they identify other places around the planet that matched?

Someone might just take pity on you next episode.
Nov. 17th, 2010 08:37 pm (UTC)
Back when the show was written, falling sperm counts were a talking point. The idea in the show was that, in 1944, the nDs had laced Earth's water with female hormones, reasoning that if they feminised humanity, Earth would be easier to conquer (as in the forties men looked really dangerous. Or something). This particular region of Scotland had been most affected, and had a higher female to male ratio than was normal globally.

It didn't lead anywhere, though. They just talked about it a lot in a dark room.
Nov. 17th, 2010 11:31 pm (UTC)
while the show appears to be unrelentingly terrible, your recaps are great! And also I keep wondering - did RTD watch this show, because there are odd things that remind me of Children of Earth, like the reliance on aliens with lots of snot.
Nov. 18th, 2010 03:53 pm (UTC)
In all fairness, slimy aliens isn't a very rare plot idea though. It crops up again and again. On the other hand, there are certain things that bring "Children Of Earth" to mind. I was thinking that when I was watching the final episode last night.
( 7 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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