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The Walls Of Jericho

With the slightly wobbly pilot out of the way, somebody on the production team has clearly flicked the switch marked "good". The improvements are noticeable from the outset: Harrison's slightly over-dramatic voiceover, coupled with some good, heavy electronic theme music, makes for an effective intro. There's also a nice conceit whereby, at the end of the theme, they play a quote from the episode, completely out of context, which always manages to sound a little ominous. Originally a graphic played at that point, of an alien hand seizing the Earth, but that's been removed from the DVD. A shame. The improvements don't stop with the intro, either. The writing has been tightened up, and although it's still far from Shakespeare, it seems a lot less cheesy now. It's such a shame that the pilot episode has to come first! I can see a lot of people being put off by it, and not giving the rest of the series a chance.

Episode two, then. In this one the team have to fight to keep their jobs, as the military assumes that the alien threat is over. Meanwhile the far-from-dead aliens are up to their usual tricks, trying to prevent the decay of their stolen human bodies. It's Harrison, Suzanne and the newly de-Jamaicaned Norton vs Colonel Ironhorse and General Uncle Wilson - and the aliens vs some cows.

Roll the screencaps.

Harrison and Ironhorse go for a jog in the grounds of their amazing top secret safe house. It's the best safe house ever. Not only does it have fabulous gardens...

... but it also has its own sea.

The first half of this episode is mostly about Harrison and Ironhorse glaring at each other, in an array of different outfits. Firstly they glare at each other on the beach, in a patch of very pretty sunlight. Ironhorse thinks the aliens are dead, mostly because they're not marching on Washington waving banners. Harrison, who believes that the aliens possibly have a better grasp of the need for secrecy than that, gets very cross.

Harrison is, of course, right. The aliens, in their attempts to fight the decay caused by Earth's radiation, have been busy sucking the blood from a herd of cattle.

I love that farmers in America still use horses. Here they just use Land Rovers, and that's far less exciting.


Alien High Command, looking a little the worse for wear. These are still terrorist bodies from last week, and the putrefaction is beginning to set in nicely by now. The aliens are less than happy about this.

Team: Brains attempt to convince Team: Military that the aliens are still out there, mostly by using fabulous eighties computer graphics.

This leads to Harrison and Ironhorse glaring at each other again; although in different clothes to last time, just for a bit of variety.

An alien.

It's spying on a plastics factory. The alien's eye view is pretty cool, but I'm not convinced that they're going to find it very easy to take over the world when their vision is really rubbish.

General Uncle Wilson is not greatly impressed by Harrison's Grand Unified Theory Of Alien. Mostly I think he just wants to not have to talk to Harrison ever again. Harrison tries glaring at him, but General Uncle Wilson isn't nearly as good at that game as Ironhorse.

Poor Harrison.

But never fear, for Ironhorse is on hand, and soon the glaring starts up again. In yet more different clothes. I guess the different outfits are intended to show the passage of time, but I'm not sure that the supposed changing of days really fits with the storyline.

Harrison and Ironhorse don't care about chronology. They just want to glare at each other some more.

The aliens bath in chemically fiddled with bubbly cows' blood, in an effort to stave off radiation sores, and also to cure the massive over-heating that the radiation is causing them. I'm not sure why they've chosen chemically fiddled with bubbly cows' blood, but it does look quite good on screen; which is perhaps all that really matters.

Norton's illicit computer activities turn up news of the cow murdering, and also strange goings on in a plastics factory.

Meanwhile an alien tries to steal some rocket fuel, and melts on an electric fence.

Puddly alien soup.

Hearing about the alien-on-the-fence, as well as the cow massacre, etc, Harrison tries to puzzle it all out, with the aid of a yo-yo. This is just in case a few viewers somewhere haven't got the message yet about him being quirky. Also, he's changed clothes again. I really wish he hadn't.

Having given up on stolen bodies, the Alien High Command have decided to seal themselves inside home-made radiation suits instead. These are wildly impractical, but also kind of awesome.

Suzanne's daughter gets something to do for a bit, mostly just to show off an amazing computer game. I'm a bit confused, though. This is 1988. I had better computer games than that in 1988, and I only had a ZX Spectrum. I'd like to think that the US Military has given Norton something a bit better than that to save the world with.

Harrison and Ironhorse glare at each other some more (although not about computer games). Harrison has changed clothes again. He must be really bored in that safe house. Either that or he's realised what a pillock he looked in that lemon yellow thing.

Ironhorse finally agrees that maybe something's up, and goes with Harrison to check out the plastics factory. They find themselves up to their eyeballs in aliens, and beat a hasty retreat.

For some reason they make their report to General Uncle Wilson in a motel room, sprawled on a bed. Huh?

Harrison and Ironhorse sneak back into the factory under cover of darkness. Their campaign of subtle lasts for about ten seconds before they're rumbled.

Why do people on TV always try to escape by running upstairs?! How is this in any way sensible?! Especially since they were in the car park, and just needed to go back to their car.

"Are you sure this is a good idea?" asks Suzanne. Of course it's a good idea, you daft woman! He's got a massive gun! "I'll apologise in the morning if necessary," he tells her, then sets about blowing the hell out of anything that moves.

Which might make apologising in the morning just a little bit difficult.

On the roof, Ironhorse and Harrison are trapped. Now there's a surprise.

Ironhorse wrestles a human host, and gets a face full of alien hand in the process. This is a really cool fight, although later episodes make it look a bit questionable. In later episodes we discover that that hand could have easily burnt Ironhorse's face off, yet all it does here is push him a bit. Still, continuity never was one of this show's strong points.

In keeping with a certain Gallifreyan that he was modelled on, Harrison turns out to only be a pacifist when it's somebody else who's waving the weapons around. Having found a tank of liquid nitrogen (they keep them on the roof? why?!), he proceeds to let rip.

And exit one alien. For some reason this is the end. I guess having one jeep blown up, and one alien frozen on a roof, must have made all the hundreds of other aliens panic and run away. Technically Ironhorse and Harrison should still be pretty majorly trapped up there. But they're not, and they leave and they go home, and the military contingent admit that maybe there's still some aliens around after all. Which is good news, or otherwise there wouldn't have been much of a series.

And it is a good series, no matter how much I mock it. I love its sense of doom, and its dark humour, and its way OTT gore. It's tremendous fun to watch, it really is. I just wish that Norton could act. Harrison's yo-yo does a better job than he does, and given how much fun everything else is, that's really rather a shame. On the one hand, he's a good character. It's good to have a main cast member (even a frequently sidelined one) who's in a wheelchair. The actor doesn't use a chair, though. It's not like they needed to cast him though limited choice. His scenes tend to veer between wooden and excruciating; and in a series that's already fighting a limited budget - something that's likely to test the patience of a lot of viewers - that's a pretty dangerous burden to carry. Given how little Suzanne has to do a lot of the time, I can't help thinking that it would have been better to have merged them into one character before filming got under way. And they could have lost Suzanne's daughter while they were at it.


( 4 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
Jan. 21st, 2012 08:03 pm (UTC)
One alien is better than none I guess. lol. Maybe the aliens could have tried formaldehyde, hmm, maybe they did and it was mixed with that nasty cow gunk. The suits are cool.
Jan. 22nd, 2012 09:41 am (UTC)
The suits are awesome.

While I think about it, there was a vidding festival over on Dreamwidth, and somebody came up with an amazing Quantum Leap video that I thought you might like. Check it out here.

(The rest of the festival is here).
Jan. 24th, 2012 12:38 pm (UTC)
This is a very interesting link, but unfortunately it's a locked video and I can't see it without a password or invitation. :/
Jan. 24th, 2012 01:18 pm (UTC)
The password is written beneath the video (or at least it is for me). Try scrolling down slightly.
( 4 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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