Skip to main content

You must stop the Mafia from poisoning space.

Star Cops
5. This Case to Be Opened in a Million Years

Another superb title, but Philip Martin’s debut for Star Cops, despite a twisty narrative and a number of red herrings, can’t quite live up to it. This one goes completely overboard with the stereotypes, to such an extent you can’t quite believe this is supposed to be played straight, and not a commentary on such things (as with Martin’s excesses in the earlier Gangsters). Suffering the most are the Italians, completed with Joe Dulce-style ker-razee accents that wouldn’t be out of place if the “French” policeman from ‘Allo ‘Allo went on a cultural exchange visit.


Graeme Harper’s at the reins again here, which means the episode looks suitably moody, although he isn’t as assured as in his debut. Or maybe it’s just that so many adverse elements are attempting to confound him along the way. The premise that isn’t really the focus of the plot (it’s a means to the bad guys’ end) is an “of course they would” sure thing. Instead of brushing it under the carpet, nuclear waste of the future is sent into the far reaches of space (where it will float undisturbed with the advisory that it not to be opened for the titular time period). If there were any aliens in Star Cops, I’m sure they’d have something to say about this, but since they aren’t its left for we the viewers to wonder at how human irresponsibility knows no bounds, and guess the reason they probably aren’t doing this already is most likely only because of the safety issues it getting it from here to up there.


When one of the rockets crashes on the lunar launch pad, Nathan and co are called in to investigate, except that Nathan is quickly sent on his required Earth bound leave of seven days. He’s chatted up by a very Italian woman on the shuttle (as in not at all, played by Vikki Chambers), who persuades him to meet her in some catacombs for a failed hit by a guy the Cops just busted for drugs (Andre Winterton). This is the beginning of an attempted frame-up of Nathan, in which he licks a bar of heroin and has his snap taken by the (corrupt) Italian police (who he’s already insulted, just not as much as Colin “Eyeties” Devis). The authorities (including Krivenko) don’t seem very supportive of poor old Spring, who is temporarily relieved of command under charges of corruption, smuggling and murder.


Spring: Go to hell, Box.
Box: Is that reachable by Strato-Transcendent Flight?

The man behind it this convoluted scheme to discredit Spring (and Star Cops) is Carlo Santanini (Michael Chesden), in league with Marla Conderini (Susan Curnow) to illicitly sell uranium to smaller nations (not the “Big Five”), using a handy disused space station as a drop off point. There wasn’t actually any nuclear waste on that crucial flight. Nathan’s instincts make a good showing here, although quite why he gets so scared (to the point of throwing up?!) when David rescues him is anyone’s guess. Realism (hardly, after Santanini has just helpfully delivered a Scooby Doo explanation of his scheme)? It just seems weird.


Spring: I didn’t find it, and you saw what you wanted to see.

David’s given some unfortunate backstory in this one, where we spend much of the episode wondering why he’s so fearful and grouchy post the nuclear incident. He just wants to close the case (pondering whether a computer reconstruction produced by the company at the centre of the disaster is “enough of an investigation”; doh!), which involves Evans showing of his limited acting chops on repeated occasions. Worst of these is his account of the accident that befell his “poor ravaged father” and “I watched the process of destruction that ended in his death”. Not the most deliverable of lines, admittedly, and Evans duly stumbles with them.


Chesden really overdoes his “I’m suspicious but not really” act, although Curnow is much more convincing, and has some good vicious moments with a blowtorch and Kenzy (“You bloody bitch!”) as the latter attempts to infiltrate her gang. Newton tends to work well in all the ways Evans doesn’t, while Cooper continues to embrace Devis’ boorish ignorance for all its worth.


Along the way, we there are moonquakes, and we are told that Nathan holds Eurodollars, presumably intended as a future currency rather than its existing meaning, so something will bear its legacy even after the Euro imminently collapses! This is an episode where Santanini comments, “Revenge is still a tradition with us”, presumably because he’s watched the Godfather trilogy on loop. The stereotyping really is that bad, and there’s a feeling that the most interesting part of the episode, the “real science”, has been ignored for a less scintillating smuggling plot in a manner Boucher would have avoided.









Comments

  1. Andre Winterton as the Hit Guy was brilliant in this and went on to work with Timothy Dalton, later of 007 fame, in Shakespeare's Rome, at the famous Mermaid Theatre. Excellent actor, where is he now?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think he went onto work in Howard's Way, and was due to be a regular on that show, but is best known as a fantastic classical actor. Shame on the RSC for never ensnaring this formidable talent!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He was linked to a film with Al Pacino, wasn't he? I remember reading about Andre Winterton at The Sundance Institute and a rumour of a film with Pacino, but he seems to have vanished.

      Delete
    2. His screen credits certainly seem limited... Still, voicing a Plasmaton (uncredited) is better than appearing as one.

      Delete
    3. I think you will see that his small screen credits are far more numerous than are listed on the various sites, as with most actors their CV is not given, people merely use snippets. He was memorable in many other TV appearances.

      Delete
  3. He was a voice over artist for many years and I produced him in numerous commericals for radio, TV and he was Pearl & Dean voice over, too. So, his voice of a Plasmaton is standard voice over work. Orson Wells voiced pea commercials and probably was monsters from the pit, too. These are jobbing actors all.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

She writes Twilight fan fiction.

Vampire Academy (2014)
My willingness to give writer Daniel Waters some slack on the grounds of early glories sometimes pays off (Sex and Death 101) and sometimes, as with this messy and indistinct Young Adult adaptation, it doesn’t. If Vampire Academy plods along as a less than innovative smart-mouthed Buffy rip-off that might be because, if you added vampires to Heathers, you would probably get something not so far from the world of Joss Whedon. Unfortunately inspiration is a low ebb throughout, not helped any by tepid direction from Daniel’s sometimes-reliable brother Mark and a couple of hopelessly plankish leads who do their best to dampen down any wit that occasionally attempts to surface.

I can only presume there’s a never-ending pile of Young Adult fiction poised for big screen failure, all of it comprising multi-novel storylines just begging for a moment in the Sun. Every time an adaptation crashes and burns (and the odds are that they will) another one rises, hydra-like, hoping…

Why would I turn into a filing cabinet?

Captain Marvel (2019)
(SPOILERS) All superhero movies are formulaic to a greater or lesser degree. Mostly greater. The key to an actually great one – or just a pretty good one – is making that a virtue, rather than something you’re conscious of limiting the whole exercise. The irony of the last two stand-alone MCU pictures is that, while attempting to bring somewhat down-the-line progressive cachet to the series, they’ve delivered rather pedestrian results. Of course, that didn’t dim Black Panther’s cultural cachet (and what do I know, swathes of people also profess to loving it), and Captain Marvel has hit half a billion in its first few days – it seems that, unless you’re poor unloved Ant-Man, an easy $1bn is the new $700m for the MCU – but neither’s protagonist really made that all-important iconic impact.

Basically, you’re saying marriage is just a way of getting out of an embarrassing pause in conversation?

Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
(SPOILERS) There can be a cumulative effect from revisiting a movie where one glaring element does not fit, however well-judged or integrated everything else is; the error is only magnified, and seems even more of a miscalculation. With Groundhog Day, there’s a workaround to the romance not working, which is that the central conceit of reliving your day works like a charm and the love story is ultimately inessential to the picture’s success. In the case of Four Weddings and a Funeral, if the romance doesn’t work… Well, you’ve still got three other weddings, and you’ve got a funeral. But our hero’s entire purpose is to find that perfect match, and what he winds up with is Andie McDowell. One can’t help thinking he’d have been better off with Duck Face (Anna Chancellor).

Can you float through the air when you smell a delicious pie?

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
(SPOILERS) Ironically, given the source material, think I probably fell into the category of many who weren't overly disposed to give this big screen Spider-Man a go on the grounds that it was an animation. After all, if it wasn’t "good enough" for live-action, why should I give it my time? Not even Phil Lord and Christopher Miller's pedigree wholly persuaded me; they'd had their stumble of late, although admittedly in that live-action arena. As such, it was only the near-unanimous critics' approval that swayed me, suggesting I'd have been missing out. They – not always the most reliable arbiters of such populist fare, which made the vote of confidence all the more notable – were right. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is not only a first-rate Spider-Man movie, it's a fresh, playful and (perhaps) surprisingly heartfelt origins story.

Rejoice! The broken are the more evolved. Rejoice.

Split (2016)
(SPOILERS) M Night Shyamalan went from the toast of twist-based filmmaking to a one-trick pony to the object of abject ridicule in the space of only a couple of pictures: quite a feat. Along the way, I’ve managed to miss several of his pictures, including his last, The Visit, regarded as something of a re-locating of his footing in the low budget horror arena. Split continues that genre readjustment, another Blumhouse production, one that also manages to bridge the gap with the fare that made him famous. But it’s a thematically uneasy film, marrying shlock and serious subject matter in ways that don’t always quite gel.

Shyamalan has seized on a horror staple – nubile teenage girls in peril, prey to a psychotic antagonist – and, no doubt with the best intentions, attempted to warp it. But, in so doing, he has dragged in themes and threads from other, more meritable fare, with the consequence that, in the end, the conflicting positions rather subvert his attempts at subversion…

Our very strength incites challenge. Challenge incites conflict. And conflict... breeds catastrophe.

The MCU Ranked Worst to Best

Do you read Sutter Cane?

In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
(SPOILERS) The concluding chapter of John Carpenter’s unofficial Apocalypse Trilogy (preceded by The Thing and Prince of Darkness) is also, sadly, his last great movie. Indeed, it stands apart in the qualitative wilderness that beset him during the ‘90s (not for want of output). Michael De Luca’s screenplay had been doing the rounds since the ‘80s, even turned down by Carpenter at one point, and it proves ideal fodder for the director, bringing out the best in him. Even cinematographer Gary K Kibbe seems inspired enough to rise to the occasion. It could do without the chugging rawk soundtrack, perhaps, but then, that was increasingly where Carpenter’s interests resided (as opposed to making decent movies).

My name is Dr. King Schultz, this is my valet, Django, and these are our horses, Fritz, and Tony.

Django Unchained (2012)
(MINOR SPOILERS) Since the painful misstep of Grindhouse/Death Proof, Quentin Tarantino has regained the higher ground like never before. Pulp Fiction, his previous commercial and critical peak, has been at very least equalled by the back-to-back hits of Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained. Having been underwhelmed by his post Pulp Fiction efforts (albeit, I admired his technical advances as a director in Kill Bill), I was pleasantly surprised by Inglourious Basterds. It was no work of genius (so not Pulp Fiction) by any means, but there was a gleeful irreverence in its treatment of history and even to the nominal heroic status of its titular protagonists. Tonally, it was a good fit for the director’s “cool” aesthetic. As a purveyor of postmodern pastiche, where the surface level is the subtext, in some ways he was operating at his zenith. Django Unchained is a retreat from that position, the director caught in the tug between his all-important aesthetic pr…

Only an idiot sees the simple beauty of life.

Forrest Gump (1994)
(SPOILERS) There was a time when I’d have made a case for, if not greatness, then Forrest Gump’s unjust dismissal from conversations regarding its merits. To an extent, I still would. Just not nearly so fervently. There’s simply too much going on in the picture to conclude that the manner in which it has generally been received is the end of the story. Tarantino, magnanimous in the face of Oscar defeat, wasn’t entirely wrong when he suggested to Robert Zemeckis that his was a, effectively, subversive movie. Its problem, however, is that it wants to have its cake and eat it.

Do not mention the Tiptoe Man ever again.

Glass (2019)
(SPOILERS) If nothing else, one has to admire M Night Shyamalan’s willingness to plough ahead regardless with his straight-faced storytelling, taking him into areas that encourage outright rejection or merciless ridicule, with all the concomitant charges of hubris. Reactions to Glass have been mixed at best, but mostly more characteristic of the period he plummeted from his must-see, twist-master pedestal (during the period of The Village and The Happening), which is to say quite scornful. And yet, this is very clearly the story he wanted to tell, so if he undercuts audience expectations and leaves them dissatisfied, it’s most definitely not a result of miscalculation on his part. For my part, while I’d been prepared for a disappointment on the basis of the critical response, I came away very much enjoying the movie, by and large.