Will the new sci- fi show from the makers of Misfits make you triple?
released 9 May 2016 | 15 | DVD
Creator Fintan Ryan Cast Michael Socha, Michaela Coel, Michael Smiley, Jim Howick
The title of this E4 show is so frustrating – and not just because it’s drearily unimaginative, but because this six- part comedydrama fails to deliver on all that it implies.
For one thing, the aliens of The Aliens are, well, barely alien. In this alternate timeline, a spaceship full of ’ em crash- landed in the Irish Sea in 1977; that being the era of SF sitcom Mork & Mindy, they’re nicknamed “Morks”. Now they’re confined to a ghetto called Troy, their role in human society restricted to menial labour. Michael Socha plays Lewis, a border guard with more in common with the underclass he polices than he knows – turns out he’s half Mork…
There’s potential for a fascinating clash of cultures here, but it’s squandered. The aliens not only look like us ( except for a puzzling fondness for garish shellsuits) and sound like us ( complete with Welsh and Irish accents) but act like us; unexplained mass amnesia means they have no knowledge of their culture. This means the idiots and low- lifes on one side of the border wall are barely distinguishable from those on the other. Defiance it ain’t.
Neither does the series really explore another definition of “alien” – as in “illegal aliens”. Immigration is one of the hottest talking points of our times, but if you’re expecting thought- provoking allegory you’d be better off investing in a box set of Alien Nation; The Aliens is more interested in mixing up Lewis in a turf war between Mork drug dealers ( the one big difference between the two species is that humans can get high by smoking Mork hair…).
The series has its strengths. Michael Socha is a likeable lead, though this role doesn’t exactly stretch him – kind- hearted, naive Lewis is basically a less hairy version of Tom, his Being Human werewolf; still, it gives him plenty of opportunity to do his endearing eyebrows-like- Tower- Bridgeopening sad- face. The soundtrack – which blends the likes of Bo Diddley, The Slits and Justice – is also excellent, as is the production design of the run- down Alien Zone.
Some of the humour hits the target too – though in falling short of the outrageous excess of Misfits ( also made by production company Clerkenwell Films), it often hits tiresome lad- bants instead; far too much time is spent mocking Dominic ( Peep Show’s Jim Howick), a Mork cleaner with a gay crush on Lewis, and while eventually the series lavishes sympathy on him, initially it feels like it’s punching down.
But ultimately The Aliens disappoints because it doesn’t fulfil the promise of its premise. Because of that, it’s just not on the same level as the likes of In The Flesh, Being Human and Humans.
Extras Two short featurettes which interview the cast and discuss “creating a believable world” ( 14 minutes). Ian Berriman
Doesn’t fulfil the promise of its premise
While in Bulgaria shooting, Michaela Coel ( Lilyhot) was pelted with stones in what she believes was a racist attack.
“Yeah, but don’t it look pretty?”