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DVD Review

DVD cover

Wizards Vs Aliens


Starring: Scott Haran, Percelle Ascott, Gwendoline Christie and Jefferson Hall
FremantleMedia Enterprises
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: PG
Available 31 December 2012

From the outside no one would think that there was anything out of the ordinary about Tom Clarke. He lives at home with his dad and nan and likes football, like most sixteen year olds. Tom, though, is a wizard, like the rest of his family. This would have remained secret but for the fact that, from across the void of space, the Nekross have arrived. The Nekross is a species which moves from planet to planet feeding off the magic essences of the inhabitants. Having almost wiped magic from existence, they arrive at Earth intent on feeding on the last magic in the universe...

Wizards vs Aliens (2001) is a young adult drama created by Russell T Davies and Phil Ford. With the death of Elisabeth Sladen, the show became the replacement for The Sarah Jane Adventures, even inheriting a couple of the stories, although reworked for the new format.

I had high hopes for the show as Davies had great success with the resurrected Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures, only to come away feeling slightly disappointed. The premise that aliens are feeding off magic does have some legs and is flexible enough to support a long running series. The problem is that, although Davies co-created the show he didn’t contribute any scripts. Ford, on the other hand wrote half of the first season, including the all-important establishing stories. One of the things which Davies is good at, and consequently what initially was missing, is emotional heart.

The show does have pretty good production values and, apart from the Nekross ruler (Brian Blessed voicing what looks uncannily like a large pile of barely convincing foam rubber), the aliens are well realised. Varg (Jefferson Hall) and Lexi (Gwendoline Christie) are credible bad guys, at least in a show designed for young adults. Don Gilet and Nina Sosanya appear as Benny’s parent giving the show some much needed humour.

The show heavily relies on you buying into the two main characters, Tom (Scott Haran) the frustrated wizard and his new best friend and supergeek - you can tell he’s intelligent as he wears glasses - Benny (Percelle Ascott). Their relationship is a fusion of magic and science. It might just be me but Haran looks too old to play Tom, this is quite noticeable when he is contrasted with Ascott. It’s not a great point, but it did keep pulling me out of the stories. The two actors gel well together, something which can only improve as the series progresses.

Quality, like quantity, are a bit hard to judge accurately. The final package will arrive on either DVD or Blu-ray, holding all twelve episodes of the first season, and I quote from the PR blurb “jam packed with bonus features”, however, what I got was six episodes on a screener disc, so your guess is as god as mine as to what the final package will contain. The screener had a nice, clear picture - as a new program I would not anticipate any problems with the picture or sound.

Taking on board the proposed target audience it is nice to see that the scripts don’t come over as condescending. Many shows falter and take time to find their feet, certainly as the two-part stories progressed and the cast settle into their roles things did get better, the show, once it settles into a rhythm, could certainly expect a long run.


Charles Packer

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