Wizards vs Aliens: 205-206 “The Cave of Menla-Gto” Review
Reviewed by Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull.
I’m delighted to see Wizards vs. Aliens is on an upslope with the quality of each episode rising steadily. The opener was faulty, to say the least and Vice Versa was a delightful romp with some unsound science. Now Joseph Lidster has set the bar even higher with his impressive new offering, The Cave of Menla-Gto is a near masterpiece but as usual there are more than a couple of let-downs.
For starters let’s brush the negatives under the rug. The Nekross, I knew from midway through Series One, were going to start getting repetitive one day and finally it’s showing. Their inclusion in The Cave of Menla-Gto is mainly because Jefferson Hall, Gwendoline Christie and Brian Blessed’s names are in the title sequence – and viewers need to be reminded they’re still there. Varg and Lexi managed to weasel their way into a plot that just doesn’t need them. There was enough threat in the endangerment of Tom’s life; the Nekross and their alarmingly convenient cannon that blasts through wizardkind’s protective shield was totally irrelevant. Admittedly it gave Benny and Moon something to do but at the end of the day a few lines of dialogue could have averted the Nekross’ bright blue presence.
I’ve criticised the science of Wizards vs. Aliens before and here it comes up again. The Nekross’ Zeiton particle (isn’t that what fuels the TARDIS, as stated in the Sixth Doctor story Vengeance on Varos?) that can destroy the dome was just too neat for my liking. Lidster and the writing team could have concocted something else to busy Moon and Benny but the former needed to get aboard the Zarantulus and display his superior magic.
The stars here are most definitely Percelle Ascott and Dan Starkey. The Cave of Menla-Gto is the pair’s defining story and they both stole the show. Moon has been such an underdeveloped character (he’s essentially the Mr. Smith of Wizards vs. Aliens. A funny fact is that one of the unproduced The Sarah Jane Adventures stories was called Meet Mr. Smith where the eponymous computer would become human and finally leave the attic. The Cave of Menla-Gto is rather like that for Moon) and it’s so good to see him finally doing something. Benny has had more to do this series, admittedly, but here Percelle Ascott really comes into his own. Scott Haran, meanwhile, didn’t have as much material as usual – Tom played dead for a considerable amount of time – and so it was left to Annette Badland as usual to take things from that end. Michael Higgs did, however, do an impressive job as Tom’s caring father but Badland picked up the slack.
What I did absolutely love about The Cave of Menla-Gto was the idea that the titular healing chamber was built on faith. The whole premise is just ingenious; Joseph Lidster is an extremely talented man. This week’s adventure was The Rings of Akhaten of Wizards vs. Aliens; I can definitely see it being underrated in the future.
Technician Jathro 13’s secret plans with “control” are really starting to intrigue me. So many questions are spinning around in my head: who is “control”? Why is Jathro betraying the Nekron imperial court in the first place? And what is his plan? Only time will tell and at present I want time to blooming hurry up.
Wizards vs. Aliens is a great series but it needs to up its game and hopefully iron out these flaws. Benny’s science is aggravating and a lot of the ideas are just ludicrously convenient. Thankfully the premise this week is one that I really approve of and so hopefully future episodes can follow on in the footsteps on The Cave of Menla-Gto.