ITV, 3 one-hour episodes

SF elements

evil corporations; collective unconscious; mind altering drugs


A contaminated batch of an amphetamine has rendered a group of Russian pilots catatonic, but somehow linked to one another -- "what one feels, they all feel." Its manufacturer, the sinister multinational drugs company Resinger Genoud, desperately needs a new product, and decides this could be it. They start experimenting with 'Mentazone' on a group of dogs.

[Stephen Tompkinson] Jim Harper (Stephen Tompkinson), a schoolteacher in Switzerland, has a crush on Rochelle (Lydzia Englert), the older sister of one of his pupils. The boy gets Harper a ticket to a seminar. But Rochelle is the head of Resinger Genoud, and when Harper gate-crashes the seminar, he is pursued by security (James Duke) and accidentally killed. In a desperate but apparently unsuccessful attempt to revive him, Rochelle injects him with the contaminated stimulant. But he does survive, and escape, and so becomes a walking experiment, pursued by Resinger Genoud, and suffering some strange subconscious link with the Russian pilots and the dogs.

This is a curious mixture of the ridiculous and the not-so-bad. Some of the plot devices are frankly unbelievable: a drugs company that has just found a new product, and decides to launch it this October ? the actual effect of Mentazone is to link patients together somehow, but no-one seems interested in this remarkable property, instead they decide to market it as a cure for human psychoses, based on some experiments on dogs ? the company knows exactly where Harper is, and has secretly injected him with even more Mentazone, but just let him walk around supervised only by a bunch of drop-outs? the heroes are frantically trying to download crucial information from a hand-held before its batteries go flat, rather than just pop into a supermarket and buy more batteries?

And yet the dialogue is quite well-written and snappy in places; the 'good' characters seem to act like clued-up adults most of the time, rather than idiotic adolescents (even though the bad guys are just sinister stereotypes). And the scene where Harper convinces the audience that Mentazone has some rather undesirable side-effects is amusing.

So I spent my time watching this alternating between thinking "that's a good line", and "at last, someone who punctures the pursuer's tyres before making their own getaway", and thinking "oh, come on, you can't believe you can get away with that plot device, surely?". The sum of the parts is so much greater than the whole.

Rating: 4

[ unmissable | worth watching | passes the time | mind candy | unwatchable | unfinishable ]

reviewed 26 April 1998