Wednesday 3 April 2013

ONWARD - to the micro brew pizzatorium!

I started into watching Space Precinct again last week after giving up on the dreadfully dull Walking Dead halfway through an episode - to narrow it down for you, it was that one where they just talked in circles at each other for what felt like forever in between some splatter effects.  The last of the big model-based sci-fi shows, I honestly struggle to see why Space Precinct is considered any worse than UFO or Space 1999 bar the lack of any really innovative plots, and it's arguably helped by the actor-y bits being stuffed with bad writing that is indistinguishable from latter-day parody of sci-fi and/or cop shows to the point I think a tight edit of the average episode could enable it to masquerade as a half hour comedy, or Charlie Brooker could just bung his name on it as is and people would be none the wiser.  Until they started laughing.
Once you settle into the flow of things, though, there's the odd decent episode in there even if a lot of it is completely barmy and illogical in that way Gerry Anderson's live action shows usually were, but it sticks to it's schtick of cop show tropes in a sci-fi setting doggedly even when it makes no internal sense: like the two-part finale being a traditional "end of the world" sci-fi plot the lead coppers have to foil and their captain says "Do you buy this man's story about intergalactic conspiracies?" and their captain is a effin' alien with eyes on stalks and he's looking out the window of his office in a space station at the time - I mean, I'm not reading this scene wrong, am I?  In this context this character cannot simply say "intergalactic conspiracy" as a baseline mark for something only a nutjob would believe, because from his point of view as an alien who is also a policeman who works in space, he is just talking about organised crime.
Some of the high-concept episodes are remarkably well-paced, and the viewer reaches the same conclusion at the same time as the characters do, despite being aware of sci-fi cliche in a way the characters are not - in the time travel episode, for instance, there's no hint of time travel or even time travel tropes until relatively late in the episode, and the episode with a cloning subplot has a similar eureka moment for genre-savvy viewer and stock genre character even if it does leave you with an unfortunate moment of fridge logic when you cotton that three babies are murdered during the course of the story and no-one seems to care.
I do love the theme - maybe not as iconic as UFO or Space 1999's opening fanfares, but it's hysterical and screeching when sci-fi tv themes at the time - and since - were ponderous orchestral arrangements, and married to the patented Century 21 THIS EPISODE montage of all the action scenes from the upcoming slice of retro-futurist cheese in the title credits that is so damn good that it was one of many things Battlestar Galactica stole in its entirety without an ounce of shame - and who can blame them?

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