Ultimo, we have a serious problem
Hyperdrive 9.30pm, ABC How could the ABC let Ten make off with Torchwood while swallowing this?
WHEN Sigmund Freud visited the US for the first and only time in 1909, he told philosopher William James the country was ‘‘ a gigantic mistake’’. Hyperdrive could be more accurately titled Hyperdrivel, and looking at the American- style special effects for this BBC production, which must have cost a fortune, it is also a mistake of mammoth proportions.
The fiscal dynamics of television are beyond the scope of mere reviewers. However, I certainly hope the ABC got a good deal on this because it is junk of the first order. It should have been strangled at birth and would have been had it started life as a university review, which it probably did. But perhaps that’s unfair to university reviews.
How, you have to wonder, could the ABC let the Ten network make off with the engaging if not completely brilliant Doctor Who spin- off Torchwood while swallowing this guff whole? Perhaps it’s a legacy thing. The ABC is nothing if not conscious of its past and Hyperdrive bears a striking resemblance to the mightily popular Red Dwarf, but there is one significant difference: it is not remotely funny.
Imagine The Office in space without Ricky Gervais, without jokes and with the dry, hollow ring of a repertory failure. Imagine special effects on the scale of, say, the Alien movie franchise without a plot, characters or a decent script. Finally, imagine gnawingly awful British comedy without a single redeeming character and you have Hyperdrive.
There’s purchase in parodying science fiction. Red Dwarf managed it in a bilious sort of way and the wonderful Galaxy Quest scored a direct hit on the self- referencing excesses of Star Trek.
But Hyperdrive does not succeed as parody or on its own merits.
The rousing theme tune will sound familiar. Is it some space age intergalactic theme, like those by Jerry Goldsmith ( Star Trek) or John Williams ( Star Wars, Harry Potter)?
No, it’s a whistled version of The Colonel Bogey March, written in 1914 by Lieutenant F. J. Ricketts. Brilliant, and so original. After all, it was used in Mel Brooks’s 1987 Star Wars spoof Spaceballs, and was the theme for The Bridge on the River Kwai and that post- World War II schoolyard song, Hitler Had Only One Big Ball.
Trying to be more positive, Hyperdrive looks terrific and Englishaccented aliens the Glish do their best to be mucousy mutants from another planet. But their amusing hand- licking formalities (‘‘ Before we proceed, may we lick your hands?’’) wear thin when, by the sixth minute in, they have become: ‘‘ Also, we must rub our genitals against your head, commander.’’ Laugh? I didn’t. Not once.
Hyperdrivel: Hyperdrive isn’t remotely funny