Shiny Shelf


By Stephen Lavington on 16 January 2006

There are some things about ‘Hyperdrive’ that are rather objectionable. It looks to be riding on the coat-tails of ‘Doctor Who’, dropping a little too neatly into the hiatus before the second season. It belongs to the far from universally celebrated genre of Sci-fi sit-com, a genre that has been pretty much superseded by film (the latest version of ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, ‘Shaun of the Dead’) and whose remaining contemporary example is ‘Red Dwarf’, appreciation of which after the age of about 21 can land you on certain government watch-lists. Moreover it has a worryingly thin concept – that space-travel is a mundane and trying business (cf ‘Dark Star’, ‘Alien’ etc, etc) with the prime purpose of attracting alien business to British industrial parks – a good gag but difficult to see how it’s going to stretch to a whole series.

Having said this it’s also a show one wants to root for. With Kevin Eldon, Nick Frost and Miranda Hart it has a top-notch comic cast, backed by solid support (Dan Atopolski’s laconic and perpetually pissed-off mechanic Jeffers is a particular favourite of mine). It has strong writing talent behind it too – Andy Riley and Kevin Cecil have a pedigree encompassing ‘Big Train’, ‘Black Books’ and ‘Little Britain’. This means it’s bloomin’ well British, not just in terms of production and casting but in tone; understated, sardonic and borderline surreal in places. It has a cuddly, loveable feel to it, coming across as the sort of show one should champion just because it might get put down otherwise.

With this in mind it seems wrong to cast judgment on the back of the first rather lackluster episode. It all seemed to trudge along without a real sense of purpose, and the humour at times seemed forced, though there were some genuinely funny jokes. It may be best to let the show find its legs before knocking them out from under it.

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By Stephen Lavington

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