Follow the reluctant adventures in the life of a Welsh astrophysicist sent around the world for some reason, wherein I photograph potatoes and destroy galaxies in the name of science. And don't forget about my website,

Wednesday 1 September 2010

Review : The Deep

BBC 1's latest prime-time drama "The Deep" has just finished. And "Deep" is just one thing it certainly wasn't. Other inapplicable adjectives include : "clever", "sharp", "tense", "entertaining" and "worth watching". This is also a show where the word "spoilers" really doesn't apply.

To be fair, for the first 3 episodes I was quite intrigued about what was going on. Sure, it was clunky, featuring an implausibly high number of ethnic minorities aboard a British (yellow) submarine which felt as though the Beeb's P.C. brigade was operating in full force. Not exactly because of their ethnicity... no, more because they couldn't act. Which also neatly explains the presence of James Nesbitt ["Can't act ? Won't act ? Doesn't matter at the BBC, we're an equal opportunities employer !"] Admittedly it doesn't explain the presence of Tobias Menzies, who proved in Rome that he most definitely can act - but not in this show.

Still, I was willing to overlook a bit of positive discrimination (which is at least better than negative discrimination after all) in light of the reasonably interesting plot. A high-tech sub searching for a missing expedition 2,000 ft below the north Polar ice cap suddenly encounters a massive submersible of unknown origin. Any number of things could happen next. Unfortunately, they do, and none of them are any good.

Nothing very much actually happened in episodes 2 or 3, except to reveal that the sub is Russian (it's never explained how they built a 160m long sub in total secrecy) and equipped with high-energy radar that has rather unfortunately killed virtually the entire crew. Sadly the few survivors (no plausible explanation is offered as to how anyone survived at all) are not mad or zombified, just slightly irate Russians who switch sides at random intervals without reason. And then James Nesbitt (whose character is called Clem, or is it Clam ?) discovers his wife, who disappeared in the area, is alive and well on this very sub after all. Hooray !

Naturally there's a pointless scene in which one luckless protagonist from the Yellow Submarine stops the Ruski ship from going nuclear by... dum dum dum... going into the reactor chamber ! Spock's death scene in Star Trek II it isn't. He then mopes around until episode 5, doing nothing useful to anyone.

Finally in episode 4, things are revealed. It turns out that Nesbitt's idiot wife (heartless b*tch would be more apt given her utter disregard for her child left back home) has discovered a new bacterium that can turn cellulose into hydrogen. Yes, it takes 4 hours to reveal that the reasons the Russians are slightly irate is because this new bacterium (which evolved to feed on plant matter 12,000 ft below the ice-covered North Pole - surely the darkest place on Earth) will cause trouble for the oil companies. The fact that they could make untold billions from clean fuel doesn't seem to have crossed their poor little minds. 4 bleedin' hours ! You know what would have been more interesting that clean bloody fuel ? ANYTHING. I wanted and was expecting a great big monster. Didn't get one. Booo.

At the end of episode 4, Nesbitt is trying to retrieve a fresh sample of the bacterium when his sub promptly implodes - or so we think. In fact he turns up in episode 5 on the Russian sub at a key moment to give some pesky Ruski's a damn good clobbering (including killing the one friendly Russian, for no real reason). It's never explained how he survived at all, but it doesn't really matter because then he gets shot, irradiated, and then nuked as the ship finally explodes. By which point the viewer is left thinking : Enough already, I get it, this time he's REALLY DEAD !

Alas, things are not over yet. The Yellow Submarine has been blasted by the radar which fried Nesbitt, though, for some reason, only one crew member is affected (and the ship is hunky-dory). She's unconscious and put on oxygen. Which is helpful because then the A.C. fails and everyone else falls over. However, all is not lost. The ghost of a former crew member induces an out-of-body experience and shows her exactly which button to press to save the ship (I'm not making this up). She then wakes up and does so, and all is well.

When they finally reach the surface, the whole thing is promptly covered up by the government who are in the thrall of the oil barons. Which government ? All of them, I think. Apparently a giant explosion irradiating the Arctic ocean is something that no-one will ever notice. It all ends happily with a married man eloping with a character he fancies, both of the idiots seemingly uncaring of the fact that most other characters have died very unpleasant deaths.

Rating : 3/10. Bad, but not as bad as the truly abominable Bonekickers.

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