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

Popular posts from this blog

Damn prairie dog burrow!

Tremors (1990) (SPOILERS) I suspect the reason the horror comedy – or the sci-fi comedy, come to that – doesn’t tend to be the slam-dunk goldmine many assume it must be, is because it takes a certain sensibility to do it right. Everyone isn’t a Joe Dante or Sam Raimi, or a John Landis, John Carpenter, Edgar Wright, Christopher Landon or even a Peter Jackson or Tim Burton, and the genre is littered with financial failures, some of them very good failures (and a good number of them from the names mentioned). Tremors was one, only proving a hit on video (hence six sequels at last count). It also failed to make Ron Underwood a directing legend.

Here’s Bloody Justice for you.

Laughter in Paradise (1951) (SPOILERS) The beginning of a comedic run for director-producer Mario Zampa that spanned much of the 1950s, invariably aided by writers Michael Pertwee and Jack Davies (the latter went on to pen a spate of Norman Wisdom pictures including The Early Bird , and also comedy rally classic Monte Carlo or Bust! ) As usual with these Pertwee jaunts, Laughter in Paradise boasts a sparky premise – renowned practical joker bequeaths a fortune to four relatives, on condition they complete selected tasks that tickle him – and more than enough resultant situational humour.

I'm offering you a half-share in the universe.

Doctor Who Season 8 – Worst to Best I’m not sure I’d watched Season Eight chronologically before. While I have no hesitation in placing it as the second-best Pertwee season, based on its stories, I’m not sure it pays the same dividends watched as a unit. Simply, there’s too much Master, even as Roger Delgado never gets boring to watch and the stories themselves offer sufficient variety. His presence, turning up like clockwork, is inevitably repetitive. There were no particular revelatory reassessments resulting from this visit, then, except that, taken together – and as The Directing Route extra on the Blu-ray set highlights – it’s often much more visually inventive than what would follow. And that Michael Ferguson should probably have been on permanent attachment throughout this era.

I hate natural causes!

Body Bags (1993) (SPOILERS) I’m not surprised Showtime didn’t pick this up for an anthology series. Perhaps, if John Carpenter had made Coming Home in a Body Bag (the popular Nam movie series referenced in the same year’s True Romance ), we’d have something to talk about. Tho’ probably not, if Carpenter had retained his by this point firmly glued to his side DP Gary Kibbe, ensuring the proceedings are as flat, lifeless and unatmospheric as possible. Carpenter directed two of the segments here, Tobe Hooper the other one. It may sound absurd, given the quality of Hooper’s career, but by this point, even he was calling the shots better than Carpenter.

As in the hokey kids’ show guy?

A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood (2019) (SPOILERS) I don’t think Mr Rogers could have been any creepier had Kevin Spacey played him. It isn’t just the baggage Tom Hanks brings, and whether or not he’s the adrenochrome lord to the stars and/or in Guantanamo and/or dead and/or going to make a perfectly dreadful Colonel Tom Parker and an equally awful Geppetto; it’s that his performance is so constipated and mannered an imitation of Mr Rogers’ genuineness that this “biopic” takes on a fundamentally sinister turn. His every scene with a youngster isn’t so much exuding benevolent empathy as suggestive of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang ’s Child Catcher let loose in a TV studio (and again, this bodes well for Geppetto). Extend that to A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood ’s conceit, that Mr Rogers’ life is one of a sociopathic shrink milking angst from his victims/patients in order to get some kind of satiating high – a bit like a rejuvenating drug, on that score – and you have a deeply unsettli

What's a movie star need a rocket for anyway?

The Rocketeer (1991) (SPOILERS) The Rocketeer has a fantastic poster. One of the best of the last thirty years (and while that may seem like faint praise, what with poster design being a dying art – I’m looking at you Marvel, or Amazon and the recent The Tomorrow War – it isn’t meant to be). The movie itself, however, tends towards stodge. Unremarkable pictures with a wide/cult fanbase, conditioned by childhood nostalgia, are ten-a-penny – Willow for example – and in this case, there was also a reasonably warm critical reception. But such an embrace can’t alter that Joe Johnston makes an inveterately bland, tepid movie director. His “feel” for period here got him The First Avenger: Captain America gig, a bland, tepid movie tending towards stodge. So at least he’s consistent.

Hey, my friend smells amazing!

Luca (2021) (SPOILERS) Pixar’s first gay movie ? Not according to director Enrico Cassarosa (“ This was really never in our plans. This was really about their friendship in that kind of pre-puberty world ”). Perhaps it should have been, as that might have been an excuse – any excuse is worth a shot at this point – for Luca being so insipid and bereft of spark. You know, the way Soul could at least claim it was about something deep and meaningful as a defence for being entirely lacking as a distinctive and creatively engaging story in its own right.

I’m just glad Will Smith isn’t alive to see this.

The Tomorrow War (2021) (SPOILERS). Not so much tomorrow as yesterday. There’s a strong sense of déjà vu watching The Tomorrow War , so doggedly derivative is it of every time-travel/alien war/apocalyptic sci-fi movie of the past forty years. Not helping it stand out from the pack are doughy lead Chris Pratt, damned to look forever on the beefy side no matter how ripped he is and lacking the chops or gravitas for straight roles, and debut live-action director Chris McKay, who manages to deliver the goods in a serviceably anonymous fashion.

You nicknamed my daughter after the Loch Ness Monster?

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (2012) The final finale of the Twilight saga, in which pig-boy Jacob tells Bella that, “No, it's not like that at all!” after she accuses him of being a paedo. But then she comes around to his viewpoint, doubtless displaying the kind of denial many parents did who let their kids spend time with Jimmy Savile or Gary Glitter during the ‘70s. It's lucky little Renesmee will be an adult by the age of seven, right? Right... Jacob even jokes that he should start calling Edward, “Dad”. And all the while they smile and smile.

I want the secret of the cards. That’s all.

The Queen of Spades (1949) (SPOILERS) Marty Scorsese’s a big fan (“ a masterpiece ”), as is John Boorman, but it was Edgar Wright on the Empire podcast with Quentin “One more movie and I’m out, honest” Tarantino who drew my attention to this Thorold Dickinson picture. The Queen of Spades has, however, undergone a renaissance over the last decade or so, hailed as a hitherto unjustly neglected classic of British cinema, one that ploughed a stylistic furrow at odds with the era’s predominant neo-realism. Ian Christie notes its relationship to the ilk of German expressionist work The Cabinet of Dr of Caligari , and it’s very true that the picture exerts a degree of mesmeric immersion rarely found in homegrown fare.