Commander Henderson -
Chloe Teal -
OTHER SCI FI COMEDIES
Hitch-Hikerís Guide to the Galaxy
3rd Rock From the Sun
A Gift From The Glish
Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the HMS Camden Lock....
Those three scary words 'Science fiction comedy' are back to threaten us all. Have the BBC struck another RED DWARF?
Sadly no, at least not on the evidence of this first episode. Still, the set up at least has promise and there may be better in future.
A typically underacheiving crew of British oddballs bumble around in space, trying to keep up the illusion of the Empire's greatness. They are led by a captain who simply wants to avoid ferrying school parties to the moon, a first officer in love with the captain, a security officer who is a psychopath, a touchy techie and any number of other stock characters. Sadly, none of them are believable (at least Lister and Rimmer were the lowest rank on RED DWARF not the bridge crew) or, more critically, likeable.
Is there anything good to be said about it then? Thankfully, yes. First off, the special effects are stunning. The shots of the ship and planets are the equal of any american show. The sets of the inside of the ship are also pretty excellent.
Moreover, there are some nice ideas. Firstly, there's the Glish, a shudderingly yucky pair of aliens who want to lick hands and rub their genitals against your head, and that's just to rent space in Peterborough. Computer problems caused by coffee in the keyboard are resolved by rebooting to the factory settings (anyone who has had to reinstall windows XP will empathise) brings up some unexpected problems and the gratuitous use of blood and severed limbs is about the funniest thing on show.
And there's the problem. HYPERDRIVE had better be a damned sight funnier in future episodes. The comedy is lame, the jokes not very funny at all and rushed in order to get through a plot packed with incidence, but precious little sense.
It's too early to write off HYPERDRIVE just yet, but there is a good deal of room for improvement.Top
First contact is the trickiest of missions for the crew of a spaceship. Commander Henderson, Teale and York land on the planet Queppu to try and persuade the rulers to allow the building of a Tesco Orbital store. There, they find a race with strange ideas about power, but with a princess who takes a liking to Henderson, much to Teale's disgust. When matters take a turn for the worse, they call the ship for back-up, but Jeffers, temporarily in charge, has taken the ship into a three way race across space.
The good news is that this second episode of HYPERDRIVE is not as bad as the first one. The bad news is that the improvement is marginal. It still isn't all that funny, though gags about the native king's doomray device are funny and the crew information film that they watch about alien sex is also worth a couple laughs. Those aside, that's it.
The special effects remain impressive and the Queppu costumes are vaguely amusing.Top
It's Gary Neville day, celebrating the life of the man who invented artificial gravity during half time of an FA cup final and the crew is taking the weekend off. The cadets are throwing a huge party whilst the officers should be attending the officers' dinner. Jeffers and Vine visit a planet that Vine has bought on Ebay, York uncovers sabotage and ends up trapped in plastic goo whilst Sangstrom eats chocolate and goes mad. All of this means that Commander Henderson and Teale are left alone, something that could end up with a trip to the sex room.
It's time to get to know the crew a little better, by spending some quality time with them. Sadly, they don't do anything worth the effort. There are even fewer things to smile at in this episode than the preceding ones. Even the idea of Gary Neville as the inventor of artificial gravity raises only a momentary smirk.
Hyperdrive is the kind of thing that gives the genre a bad name.Top
The Camden Lock arrives to mediate a bitter dispute between two alien races over an asteroid only to find that their task is to stop anything happening before the Americans arrive. When the Commander tries a bluff by threatening to blow up the asteroid, both races unite and declare war on Britain. his war is averted by the offering up of the Camden Lock as a rogue vessel for the aliens to destroy at will.
You know, it's a pity that HYPERDRIVE isn't funny because this is a good plot gone to waste. The destruction of the asteroid almost approaches amusing and the resolution of the issue by the crew of a ship whose only advantage is that the hull of the ship is an inch or so thicker is actually well done. Sadly, it just isn't funny.
The special effects are still good though.Top
The Camden Lock is taking part in a joint anti-drug smuggling operations with the Danes, but (much to Mr York's disgust) has been given a remarkably empty area of space to patrol. There, they encounter the spaceship of Clare Winchester who is single handedly sailing around the galaxy, mainly because she has no friends. Henderson pops over to share a historic visit only to find that Clare is a few sandwiches short of a picnic and his life depends upon his ability to make up compliments.
What a turn up for the books, HYPERDRIVE almost made us laugh this week. Almost. Sandstrom was infected with the Pottymouth 2.0 virus and responded to every command with an obscenity of inventive fashion. It's not much, but it got us smiling more than the rest of the series put together. Sally Phillips's portrayal of the mad Ellen McArthur type was the high point of the show, but the conclusion where the crew stumbles onto an unexpected victory was really quite satisfying.
HYPERDRIVE still has a long way to go before being good, but it is showing promising signs of improvement.Top
The British space fleet have had it with Henderson and the crew of the Camden Lock. They have declared a Category J assessment, an assessment that nobody has ever passed and which means discharge with dishonour. Henderson takes to his quarters in despair, Yorke takes over the ship, the crew mutiny and Vine is contacted by aliens that want to make him a God, probably.
And so that's it for HYPERDRIVE. The series has come to an end with no word about it coming back in the autumn. That's ironic because this is the strongest episode yet, a marked improvement. There are moments of almost humour and some real character work showing through as well. The writers even build in a cliffhanger,confident of their return for a new series, perhaps in the Autumn.
In the end HYPERDRIVE was a great idea in search of some good jokes. The BBC were willing to spend money on it (witness the excellent special effects again in this episode) and the actors tried hard. More jokes and it would have been worthwhile.Top
Here are some views on HYPERDRIVE that come from The Pritchard Residence who are clearly fans of the new Doctor Who Show as their e-mail is based on the Slitheen.
"I think it's very good - I nearly switched off during episode 1, but I'm so glad I never. It's getting steadily better...and now collectively better than the very poor first few episodes of Red Dwarf (yes, it did go on to be amazing.....but not initially good, IMO).
Teale had me crying laughing in tonight's episode: "Oh why don't you just all just go to hell and help your mother to make a big bitch pie!".....funniest line I've heard on T.V for absolute yonks. Original, and more hearty than getting the same laugh over and over again from saying "smeghead". Also, I'd commission a show for Mister York's character alone.....he's excellent. Don't get me wrong, Red Dwarf was great...better even than Hyperdrive, but that doesn't mean Hyperdrive is all that bad. Perhaps it's even unfair to draw comparisons.....although it's obvious as to why they are being drawn."
If you agree, disagree or just want to join in the debate, click Here to e-mail the Sci-Fi Freak SiteTop
Green Javelins - First transmitted 12th July 2007
Following the loss of a ship from the elite space corps spaceobatics team The Green Javelins, Henderson and his ship are assigned to take over. Whilst training, the leader of the team Mason (Stephen Mangan) admits that he cannot live without Teal and sets about romancing her. She enjoys the attention, but is unwilling to leave her ship and so Mason decides that if he can't have her then nobody on the Camden Lock will survive.
The Air Force's aerobatics team is the Red Arrows, so the space equivalent should be the Green Javelins. If that isn't funny to you then I shouldn't hold out much hope for the second season of HYPERDRIVE because that really is about as funny as it gets. Having a robotic pilot shagging Teal's leg like a dog isn't funny. Having someone say 'Hurt me so I can retire - no wait I've changed my mind' is resolutely not funny no matter how often you repeat it. The comedy alien trading tall tales with the Space Marshall is disastrously not funny.
Yes, HYPERDRIVE is back and it is looking better than ever. The special effects are extremely good, better even than some of the work on the new DOCTOR WHO. The woeful joke count, though, remains the same. Maybe it's just a kind of humour that we don't get here, but we can usually see that something is funny even if we don't appreciate it - and we really don't appreciate this.
The cast remain extremely likeable, but the characters are just as stereotyped as in the first season. The addition in this episode of York's creation (built from 'emissions' - one of the few jokes that works) is most unfortunate. Played as a mentally retarded version of the main character (I think they were aiming for naive and infantile, but missed by a mile) it adds an unpleasant taste to an otherwise innocuous and unmemorable half hour.Top
Artefact - First transmitted 19th July 2007
The HMS Camden Lock discovers a strange object in space that seems to be a message asking for help that Teal is capable of translating. The captain, Teal and York go to the moon described in the message despite the fact that York is sure it's a hero trap (ie a trap set for stupid would-be heroes like the captain). Once on the planet, some old enemies appear and the trio are forced to take part in the reality show 'Deathgame'. In orbit, the crew decide that the best plan is...to get in the popcorn and tune into the channel.
A direct sequel to last season's episode Hello Queppu, this episode builds upon the strange aesthetic style of the aliens, making their spaceships more of the same to create a few moments worthy of a smile (yes, a whole smile), but otherwise the show remains a relatively laugh-free area. Reality TV is an easy target and it's been done before. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger's THE RUNNING MAN proved to be funnier than this show and that wasn't meant to be.
The effects work and makeup continue to impress, this time giving us a being with a mouth for a gun. Why? Who knows.Top
Admiral's Daughter - First transmitted 26th July 2007
Arabella Spicer is late for University so the Camden Lock is sent by her father, Admiral Spicer, to make sure that she gets there before freshers' week is over. Her rebellious nature threatens the stability of the entire ship.
Nice set up, great special effects. Virtually nothing in the way of comedy, well nothing that is actually funny anyway.Top
Harvest - First transmitted 2nd August 2007
York is sacked for violent conduct and Teal is promoted to First Officer, just in time to deal with an attack by the Red Shiny Robots of Vortis. As a result, the crew is taken hostage with the prospect of having their minds harvested.
Another episode that leaves us wondering how this show ever made it to a second series. Not funny not clever and not in any way worthwhile. This time even the robots are visually rubbish.Top
Dreamgate - First transmitted 9th August 2007
Running routine checks, the Camden Lock discovers an alien with a Dreamgate, a way of entering other people's minds whilst they sleep and a very illegal machine. York uses the machine and then tricks Henderson into taking a trip into his crew's mind. Then they get stuck in Vine's dream of a 20th century pub when he wakes up and start turning into permanent fixtures.
Well now, this is a turn up for the books - an episode of HYPERDRIVE that is amusing. Not funny. No we're not willing to go that far just yet, but there are more moments in this one episode that raise a smile than it the series and a half that preceded it. Exactly what is going on in Jeffer's head is the most amusing, and probably most bizarre, whilst Teal's dream of being a horse and still having an affair with the Commander is the most scary. The giant York statues are straight out of JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS and the closest thing to a laugh that the show has come up with yet.
Sadly, the subplot about the alien kids is utter tosh and distracts from the better stuff. Maybe there is hope for the show yet. It's a very big maybe though.Top
Convoy - First transmitted 16th August 2007
The Camden Lock is the head ship in a convoy transporting a giant space gun capable of destroying a start to Earth. An alien race attempts to take the gun, but are fought off. One of the aliens captured tells them that there is a traitor aboard. Whilst the computerised detective tries to work out who it is Vine plays with his ipod for tastes and Henderson watches the latest box set of the adventures of Captain Helix.
Quite remarkably, this is a pretty good plot that mixes up some potshots at military politics with a cracking revelation about the Commander's favourite TV show and the course of his entire life. In one episode, Henderson's character grows more than in the whole of the two seasons that preceded it.
It's also the funniest episode to date. That's not to say that it's really funny, but if you had asked us at the start of the season we'd have said categorically that there should not be a third. Now, we'd probably think about for quite a while before saying to the BBC commissioning board 'Stop it, that's enough.'Top
If this page was useful to you please sign our