Wizards Vs Aliens 1.07-8 “Friend Or Foe Parts 1 and 2” TV REVIEW
Writer: Clayton Hickman
Director: Griff Rowland
THE ONE WHERE Lexi hatches a cunning plan to disguise herself as a human named Lucy so she can get close to Tom. However, a rich woman who runs a shadowy organisation kidnaps them both, so Benny and Tom's family must team up with Varg to rescue them.
VERDICT Another fun two-parter from the Wizards Vs Aliens team, if you excuse the second half possibly being a little too talky and thus a tad boring for younger viewers. Saying that, the scenes of Tom bonding with Lexi are rather lovely, particularly when the usually gruff Nekross cracks first a smile, then a full-on giggle. So the Nekross do have a sense of humour... although they'd probably have to have one with a King who looks like that.
Speaking of funny things, it's bloody glorious seeing Gwendoline Christie without the Nekross make-up for once, especially when we discover what a flair for comedy she has. From her goofy facial expressions to the way she devours the chocolate bar Benny gives her, she's a delight. Lord only knows how many times the rest of the cast cracked up during the football scene! The only downside is that now Brienne on Game Of Thrones seems a little less menacing in comparison...
Ruthie Henshall gives her best panto-villain performance as Stephanie Gaunt, doing a decent job with thin material. You aren't really supposed to over-analyse kids' TV, but even while bearing that in mind, her role seemed superfluous to us – would she have been better in an episode without the Nekross, where she was the big bad guy all by herself? What's the point of bringing in an ultra-powerful rich baddie with a sinister organisation at her fingertips if you get rid of them so easily in one story? It's as though James Bond defeated SPECTRE in Dr No and spent the rest of his films twiddling his thumbs. We doubt she'll be back, either, seeing as she was apparently devoured at the end. Oh well, at least she got a few good lines, the best being: “Aliens that eat magic? I admit I didn't see that coming.”
It'll be interesting to see if Lexi's new tentative “friendship” with Tom will continue through the rest of the series, or if she'll be willing to eat his magic and thus kill him when the time comes. The final shot of them together, with their hands silhouetted as they say goodbye, is really rather touching. If she were a few years younger and he was a little older, we'd be expecting some inter-species romance at some point. But as this is CBBC, they're just frenemies. Phew.
BLESSED BE! Brian Blessed's lungs get another workout this week as his Nekross King yells, “At last! Victory is in our grasp! MWAH HA HA HA!” Several windows were shattered and a ground-shaking sonic boom was heard outside the dubbing studio.
SENT OFF Varg, disguised as Gaunt, sends all her employees and guards to Ipswich so everybody can make their escape unmolested. Is this an in-joke we missed? Why Ipswich in particular? Seems to make more sense to send them all to Coventry ...
NAUGHTY BOY Tom uses his magic to unwind the results of an explosion caused by Benny during a science lesson. Not only does this give Gaunt definitive proof that he's a wizard (whoops), we can also surmise that the poor, confused science teacher had to take a leave of absence to recover from his inevitable breakdown. (Probably with the poor brain-controlled teacher from episode one.) Tom, stop helping to destroy the teaching profession!
COMEDY NEKROSS MOMENT Varg proves he's a master at the ancient alien art of “eye-rolling” while Ursula is wibbling on about helping Benny.
SOMEONE'S BEEN WATCHING STAR TREK Tom pleads with Gaunt to stop her torturing Lexi. Later, Lexi asks him why he would worry about someone he hates. Tom should've handed her a Star Trek box-set and told her to watch everything that Captain Kirk does. Soon he'll be outwitting a computer and bedding a green Orion slave girl.
PROBABLY INTENTIONAL TOPICAL JOKE Varg and his King discuss forming a coalition with the wizards to rescue Lexi. “Mmm... a coalition,” muses the King. To which Varg replies, “That will end. As all coalitions do.” As Ben Elton would say, “A little bit of politics...”
SEAT OF POWER Gaunt's office contains this bizarre chair-thing. We've been staring at it for ages and can't figure out if it is a chair or some weird torture device.
LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION The pretty ruins where the wizards and Nekross have their pow-wow belong to Tintern Abbey .
Varg: “Zarantulus, send down the brain-scrape!”
New episodes of Wizards Versus Aliens air on CBBC every Monday and Tuesday at 5.15pm
• Read our other Wizards Vs Aliens reviews