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Wizards vs Aliens: 211-212 “Endless Night” Review

wizards-vs-aliens-211-212

Reviewed by Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull.

Endless Night was always going to be a step down. It was near impossible for anything to better The Thirteenth Floor because it was just so truly spellbinding. Thankfully the line-up of episodes means that Phil Ford’s Endless Night is himself following himself; any other writer would have so much to achieve if they were to succeed The Thirteenth Floor. Despite a few problems here and there Endless Night is mostly another fantastic story, I’m glad to report.

Gwendoline Christie and Scott Haran’s superlative performances anchored The Thirteenth Floor so Endless Night had a lot to live up to. It filled the Christie/Haran double act gap by giving supporting stars Manpreet Bambra and Connor Scarlett more prominent roles. Quinn and Katie have always taken a backseat to proceedings (the latter normally walks in at unseasonable moments to give Tom yet another ultimatum) and been defined as the generic gaggle of friends. Scarlett and Bambra have never really impressed me – at the time of writing, they still haven’t – but at least their characters have finally done something. Katie’s rather touching speech on what she would have liked to have done with her life was Bambra at her best despite some wooden acting round the edges. Scarlett also never rises to much but then again, that’s the script’s fault not Scarlett’s.

Where Endless Night really stumbles is with the central plot. The idea of the Nekross taking advantage of a solar eclipse is inspired (despite having some similarities to The Sarah Jane Adventures episode, The Lost Boy) but Ford never really follows the whole thing through. I suppose you could say it was an idea that was too big for a CBBC series to convey. The intermittent TV clips of newsmen speculating about the apocalypse are all fine and well but I never really got the feeling of worldwide terror. Regardless of Ford’s attempts to communicate the panic and paranoia through Benny’s parents, Trisha and Richard (Nina Sosanya and Don Gilet doing what they do well very well), I still didn’t think the alarm was tangible enough.

Where Endless Night failed it made up for it with that killer emotional punch. Phil Ford doesn’t so much tug at the heartstrings, instead he likes to pull them out of us and go at them with a knife. Lexi and Tom’s reunion was a poignant if fleeting one and I’m just so thrilled both of them remember but it makes Benny Jr.’s ‘death’ feel stronger than ever. Wizards vs. Aliens deserves to have a proper fandom to really feel the blunt extent of the more recent episodes. It’s developing a more adult and mature tone that just feels oh-so right. Series One was purely lighthearted fun that occasionally had a diamond in the rough now here it’s spreading its wings and stepping out from under the shadow of The Sarah Jane Adventure.

Technician Jathro 13 and the wily Chancellor Kooth’s (Victoria Wicks is very good at playing evil) masterplan appears to be taking form and I’m still not entirely sure where it’s going but judging by the title of next week’s finale, All-Out War, it may result in something consequential.

Verdict: 8/10

A solid but not quite perfect outing from Wizards vs. Aliens with some sound performances from the junior quarter. The whole of the second series has really been supported by Gwendoline Christie and Scott Haran’s sledgehammer emotional performances so kudos to them and bring on next week!

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  • PK-S

    Er.. I don’t want to dip the fly in the ointment but this week’s episode was called Endless Night. Sorry.

    • PK-S

      Thanks for changing it, much appreciated!

      • Roger

        HOW HAVE YOU NOT DIED YET!?
        HAVE YOU SEEN THE EPISODE!?
        IT LOOKS AMAZING!

        • PK-S

          Yes, I’ve seen All-Out War and it’s very good indeed.

  • Steve Willis

    I thought the Tom and Lexxie relationship was very mature for a Children’s TV series.

    Even with Tracey Beaker Returns/The Dumping Ground’s (which deals with mature matters) approach to romantic relationships was quite simple.

  • Roger

    The second half of Wizards VS Aliens has been outstanding. From The Thirteenth Floor onwards it’s been world class writing since. I’m hooked.
    Phil Ford is masterful at writing this show; it’s fantastic!
    The whole plot was as dark (pardon the pun) as an adult drama and the size and scale of the problem that presented itself was as big as a Russell T Davies finale!
    (Well…)
    I’m literally in awe. This episode was not as good as The 13th Floor because – let’s face it – I can’t see it getting much better than that (Russell T Davies finale, that’s all I’m saying) but boy(!) did it give it a good run for its money!
    I’m blown away, complete and utterly blown away!
    They managed to make a world-wide catastrophe seem real enough & believable on a children’s television show budget & not only that but the story was incredible too!
    I loved the face off with Lexi & Tom and I loved that the moon stones buried in the ground were so damn good! The voices and the directing was superb!
    (Has anyone noticed how SJA Series 2 finale was at Stone Henge too?)
    It’s genuinely fascinating and I can’t believe how good it is!
    Honest!
    OMG LEXI THOUGH! SHE DISOBEYED HER FATHER! SHE WAS SO GOOD! GOOD ON YOU LEXI! KILL YOUR FATHER! KILL YOUR BROTHER! LIVE WITH TOM ON THE SHIP! HAVE ALIEN BABIES!
    They were just fantastic…. and it’s heart breaking because you know Lexi wanted it to happen but she couldn’t because she knew it would never work so she’s broken… It’s awful!
    This is so mature for a show about Wizards VS Aliens!
    THAT NEXT TIME TRAILER THOUGH!
    RUSSELL T DAVIES YOU BEAUTY!
    I COULD KISS YOU!
    I COULD!

  • mark27b

    Still disappointed there is no main female co-lead as with The SJA and Sarah Jane herself and Maria then Rani.

    WvsA still feels a bit of a boys-own club whilst I initially thought Chloe from the first two episodes of this season (100 Wizards) was going to change this but it was not to be.

    • Roger

      Really? Really? That is your only complaint?
      There’s Ursula?
      Lexi is a lead character.
      Just because the lead isn’t female doesn’t mean it’s an all males club.

      • mark27b

        Yes that’s my only complaint as WvA is excellent in all other aspects.

        In SJA the female lead and co-leads where great role models for girls however in WvA . Katie Lord (Manpreet Bambra) isn’t.

  • Lee Tennant

    While you acknowledge it, I think the comparison to Thirteenth Floor is a little unfair. If it hadn’t have been for that episode, this would have been one of the best this show had ever produced. Thirteenth Floor was near perfection, exploding trolls aside, so nothing was ever going to live up to it. I was not expecting much of anything that came after that so was pleasantly surprised at just how good this episode was.

    Gwendoline Christie’s ability to emote under seven hundred layers of prosthetics continues to astonish and impress and she nearly brought me to tears two storylines in a row. And in a show that is known more for its silliness, that says something.

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