Comedy reborn

Series Overview
  1. Alive
  2. Albert
  3. The Line
  4. The Ian Cam
  5. Dude
  6. The Librarian

Dr Victor Blenkinsop -
Jonathan Pryce

Clone/Albert -
Stuart McLoughlin

Ian -
Oliver Maltman

Colonel Black -
Mark Gatiss

Rose Bourne -
Fiona Glascott

Red Dwarf
No Heroics

Series Overview

A secret military agency creates a clone designed to be the first super soldier. The result is, in fact, a man with the intelligence and wonder of a child. Not quite what they were looking for in a killing machine. As the leader of the agency is a psychotic, murdering madman, the creator of the clone, Victor Blenkinsop, must go on the run with his creation and fix whatever has gone wrong before the secret agency fixes them – permanently.

Take one of the writers of FRIENDS, a fairly good idea for a set up and comic actors of the quality of Johnathan Pryce and Mark Gatiss and you have the template for a very funny show. Unfortunately, CLONE is not that show.

Funny is not a word that can be associated with CLONE. The scripts are woefully unfunny, leaving the talented cast mugging around for dear life in the hope of scaring up a few giggles on their own and failing miserably. The only person who comes out of this with any sort of dignity intact is Fiona Glascott who plays her role as Rose the barmaid relatively straight, but with impeccable comic timing.

We here at the SCI FI FREAK SITE have long since affirmed the fact that the three scariest words in the world when put together are ‘science fiction comedy’ and CLONE just gives us more ammunition for that viewpoint.

One thing we can be fairly sure of is that nobody is going to be wanting to clone this.



Dr Victor Blenkinsop, a brilliant government scientist, unveils the first human clone. Intended to be a prototype super soldier, the experiment goes horribly wrong. In an attempt to redeem himself, the doctor escapes with his creation vowing to fix him before the government finds them and kills them.

BBC3's latest attempt at the holy grail of the 'science fiction comedy' gets off to a wet start with this first episode. It's a messy affair that doesn't know whether it wants to be a proper sitcom or a pantomime (there is lots of headslapping and a character that walks in and out of his own spotlight). The situation part of the sitcom is adequately taken care of with the premise of a supersoldier clone who turns out to be less what the doctor ordered than what the doctor threw into the clinical wastebasket. All of the killing machine memories and instincts are there, but they have to be brought out and in the meantime the man is a grown up man-child.

It's a promising set up, but the second part of the sitcom, ie the comedy, is sadly lacking. Belly laughs are completely absent, giggles are few to even less whilst there are a few smiles, mainly brought about by the skill of the cast rather than really decent lines. The Syrian torture scene is a highlight, but turns out to be a one joke moment about smoking indoors.

The characters are all exceedingly broad brush strokes (this is not aiming at the intellectual end of the market), which doesn't promise much for the future and the cast are a varied group with some playing it straight for comic effect (stand up Fiona Glascott and take a bow) with others going for the moustache twirling pantomime effect (erm, just about everyone else).

It would be harsh to judge the show on its first episode, but the signs are not good.



Now that they've found a place to hide out, Victor tries to get the clone to blend in. He renames him Albert and buys him new clothes. The secret to fixing Albert may lie in barmaid Rose's abilities, but to get her medical history Victor will have to charm her - something he has to date completely failed to do.

The first episode proper of the show (Alive being a set up of the situation) and it is an improvement, but that's not saying a lot. Even the canned laughter on the soundtrack sounds more polite than amused. The one line (involving princesses) that gets an 'ooh' deserves its 'ooh', but one decent line in haf an hour is a very poor strike rate.

Fiona Glascott is still the only person coming out of this with honour intact and it is embarrassing to see Johnathan Pryce's talent being wasted in something so desperate.


The Line

Clone has a hard time learning about acceptable public behaviour. Victor finds that his cover story about being a travel writer brings with it unexpected benefits and unexpected perils. Colonel Black steps up his attempts to find, and eliminate, the pair.

Three weeks in and the show displays no sign of improving. There is barely a smile in the whole running time and this is not so much unmissable as unwatchable.


The Ian Cam

Clone spends a night watching television and is gripped by the need to become a consumer. This leads to problems with the law. Victor manages to play enough tricks on Rose to convince her that she has early onset Alzheimer's disease and needs a brain scan, thus getting all the information that he needs to fix his creation. Ian, meanwhile learns that he has a camera in him, relaying information back to Colonel Black.

Whilst the manner in which Victor tricks Rose shows much invention it is more cruel than funny. Watching this show is actually more evidence of being cruel to oneself than anything else. There continue to be no real laughs, no real smiles and very little amusement of any kind.

Fiona Glascott continues to rise above the level of the rest of the show, but she is the only member of the cast that does.



Clone wants to impress Emily who is the coolest kid on the block and who is only nine. This is made more difficult by having to wear a cortical remapping device that will use the information from Rose's brain to unlock the deadly potential in Clone's. Victor also sets about trying to ward off Rose's supposed romantic interest in him.

What's that? Was there really a smile in there? Actually yes, but the fact that we're getting excited over a single smile tells you everything that you need to know about this show. It remains witless and utterly unfunny. Fortunately there's only more episode left to go.


The Librarian

The secret cure for male baldness that Victor used as a bribe to get Rose’s brainscan leads Colonel Black to the Clone’s hiding place. Clone reacts with exactly the speed and violence that the military were looking for in him in the first place. They move in with large numbers of troops and all seems lost except for the help of a mysterious American tourist who claims to be on holiday.

And mercifully CLONE comes to an end. This episode passes slightly more quickly, not because there are more laughs, but because there is more plot. The show remains a laugh-free area.

The episode even manages to pull off a plot twist that piques our interest, but and we would like to make this very clear to the BBC, not enough to want to have to sit through another series. Enough is enough and enough of CLONE was somewhere about ten minutes into episode 1.







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