THE ALIENS

Will the new sci- fi show from the mak­ers of Mis­fits make you triple?

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews -

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?”

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