Aliens, episode 1 – review

“The comedy is off-pace and the action disjointed.”

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© Channel 4

Written by Michael Lee.

There may be no Sigourney Weaver but for an E4 production the cast is impressive all the same. This Is England alumni Michael Socha and the upcoming Michaela Coel, fresh from her own brilliantly funny creation Chewing Gum. Then there’s Horrible Histories and Peep Show regular Dominic Howick (tube up his nose, tube up his nose). Add to that, the head writer is Fintan Ryan of In The Flesh – and you have a whole smorgasbord of killer potential.

The premise then, is this: It is forty years after aliens first arrived on Earth and they are now sectioned off in concentration camps. Here’s the catch – they look just like us, for not just storyline reasons but probably budgetary ones also. Lewis (Socha) is a border control officer who soon discovers he is half alien. This is worse than discovering your, say half Scottish because you won’t be locked up for that. Not these days anyway.

It’s disappointing that after all the adverts screamed “HILARITY” things don’t gel from the off. The comedy is off-pace and the action disjointed. The editing is akin to a music video directed by someone with ADHD holding a camera in one hand and road drill in the other. It takes a long time to get into its stride. What we do see of this alternate world (when the camera stays still long enough) is an impressive contradictory mess of urban decay and bright radiant colours.

Strangest of all in this mish-mash of an opener, is the crazier things get and the closer to the credits we go, the whole thing becomes more cohesive and events thankfully less wobbly. Due to some ill-advised hair dealing (honest) from Lewis’sister he has to cross into Troy, an alien hellhole that humans have discarded and left to its own devices. Here morals are loose and anything goes. Which is nothing at all like Troy Town, a little village in Dorset. There are no aliens there, only horses and cows in fields and what’s the betting they don’t fight each other in drug addled clubs?

Despite being a somewhat disjointed opener there are moments that click. The Lewis and Dominic (Howick) partnership grew into a joyful pairing, though not joyful in quite the way the latter would like. They look set to shape up as a unique oddball of a collaboration. Why? Because one is clearly in love while the feeling is not reciprocated but mainly because both of them are absolutely useless in critical situations.  Lilyhot (Coel)  has lots of subtext going on. Does she have something behind her eyes as Lewis believes? Or will she just do anything to survive? Is her name even Lily? Is her surname Hot? That would be weird. Or an amazing coincidence.

The social commentary is almost as blatant as being bludgeoned by an issue of Public Eye. Immigration, racism and human cruelty are to the fore. Lewis’ disdain for the ‘Morks’ before he realises he’s half one and fancies a whole one is straight out of the “don’t judge a book by its cover” rulebook. Political and ethical leanings it may have but let’s not forget this is from the producers of Misfits so there’s some people s**ting themselves and a bit of w**king too. Not at the same time you’ll be glad to know. 6/10

TALKING ALIEN:

– “I’m coming back for the Rabbit!”

– “If someone comes in the room and I’m getting a blow job off a Goat, their first reaction is not gonna be “is that a nanny goat or a billy goat you got there Lew?” I bet “why have you got your penis in a Goat’s mouth?” is gonna come up first”

BEYOND THE BORDER:

The aliens landed in 1990. If Shane Meadows had written this it might have been called This is Alien ’90.

The rather obviously named ‘Alien Test Kit’ does exactly what it says on the cardboard.  Did Lewis score exactly 50%?

This is whole review didn’t mention Michael Socha’s eyebrows once…oh, wait