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Sunday, 9 May 2010

K9: Black Hunger

If there's one reason to celebrate Black Hunger it's that it appears to have been the final nail in Drake's career with The Department (and therefore, hopefully, his appearances in K9)... but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

The story opened with Darius, scavenging in the sewers, stumbling across a Department experiment with a 'nanoswarm'-emitting device that devoured rubbish. Unfortunately, upon his return and finding the device abandoned and one of the operator's protective suits seemingly discarded, he was too dumb to realise that the microbial-swarm had probably eaten the man - and so promptly steals the device.

And what does he do with it?

He uses it to 'eat' the rubbish littering Professor Gryffen's house - as part of his job is, supposedly, to keep the house clean.

Very quickly K9 and the Professor discover that the microbes have actually eaten all the living creatures in the room as well and if allowed to get out of control could easily devour the entire world.

Meanwhile June Turner and Drake are butting heads at the Department over the supposedly closed Project: Black Hunger, which had seen Drake genetically manipulate the make-up of the swarm - turning it from a harmless cleaning method into a dangerous biological weapon.

He attempts to cover his tracks by activating a 'small neutron bomb' in the swarm's containment unit - but Jorjie manages to defuse it by hitting it with a stick (don't ask!).

By this stage, the swarm is running riot through the sewers and it looks like the Earth only has a week to live... until K9 realises that by reversing some of his own circuitry (or something) he can 'swallow' the entire swarm!

June Turner promptly reports Drake's error of judgment to her superior, only to be told that he is being replaced by Inspector Thorne (Jared Robinsen) - who we can only hope and pray is a more convincing foil for K9 and company. Surely he has to be a better actor than Connor Van Vuuren.

What struck me most about this story was just how stupid the characters are - from the totally gormless cyborg police officers (who are a gift for any real criminals still operating in London) to Drake, with his half-baked schemes, and Darius, who is so generally unpleasant that I can't understand why Professor Gryffen keeps him around... but then again, for a scientific genius, the Professor is quite dumb as well!

One thing this episode did well though was setting out quite succinctly the different approaches of June Turner's xenophobic branch of The Department ("keep aliens off Earth") and Drake's more fascistic, Big Brotherish ideas ("obtain alien tech to keep the population of Earth under control").

Besides the - hopefully - end of Drake's involvement in this series, Black Hunger also introduced a strange new element: the prominent, product placement of cans of drink labeled 'Best'.

It was so in-your-face in the sewers, and in Gryffen's mansion, in the first half of the episode that I actually thought it was going to be a key element in the plot - but it turned out to be just set dressing.

Or was it a subtle piece of foreshadowing of something to come later in the season? (Yeah, right!)

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