Skip to main content

From Across the Pond: "Hyperdrive" Hilariously Blasts into Outer Space

There are some people who can't get enough of Star Trek in all its many incarnations. I am not one of those people. Sure, I am madly obsessed with Battlestar Galactica (which, BTW, returns to Sci Fi with brand new episodes on Sunday), but the notion of the space opera leaves a lot to be desired for me.

Which means that I came to the BBC comedy Hyperdrive, with no preconceived notions, other than having watched far too many episodes of Red Dwarf in my day. Before going any further, I must say that despite the deep space setting of Hyperdrive (which begins tonight on BBC America), you must put the setting out of your mind completely. Because Hyperdrive is as much like Star Trek or even Red Dwarf as it is The Office.

What's that, you say? How could a space-set comedy series possibly be like The Office? I'm glad you asked.

Hyperdrive is at its heart a hilarious workplace comedy that just so happens to be set in the wildly bureaucratic future of 2151 aboard the HMS Camden Lock, part of a British fleet of space-faring vehicles, all with the express mission of exporting all elements of British society to the far reaches of the galaxy.

But ultimately this set up is just a contrivance for one of the most astute and painfully funny explorations of corporate life... if your office happened to be a space ship and your job consisted of trying to negotiate office space with alien beings while your crew fends off a sadistic killer that grows exponentially in size.

Leading this (not-so) able-bodied crew is none other than Commander Henderson (Nick Frost of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Spaced) who leads his crew into drudgery and occasional battle with indigenous alien populations. But usually he's just cleaning up the messes created by his crew, which includes diplomatic officer Chloe Teal (Nighty Night's Miranda Hart), draconian and sociopathic first officer York (Nighty Night's Kevin Eldon), moronic technical officer Jeffers (Dan Antopolski), surly navigator Vine (Stephen Evans), and enhanced human Sandstrom (Petra Massey) who pilots the ship with a series of blips, beeps, and unintelligible murmurings, rather like a Cylon base ship hybrid.

BBC America kindly supplied me with the first two episodes which I raced home to watch the other day (I'm a huge Nick Frost fan) and was instantly captivated. In the first installment ("A Gift from the Glish"), Henderson and Co. attempt to sell business space in Peterborough to an alien race, who not surprisingly aren't all that thrilled with the "buzzing cafe culture and farmers market" and would rather instead humiliate Henderson and Teal by licking their faces and attempting to put their genitals on the crew's heads. In the second episode ("Hello, Queppu"), the HMS Camden Lock makes contact with an isolationist alien race but Teal destroys the flirtation brewing between Henderson and the alien princess when she imbibes too much of the local drink and lands them all in the clink.

It might sound a little too OTT, but it's not. Frost is outstanding as Commander Henderson and he has an able sidekick in Teal; the two might just be the best TV buddy pairing since David Brent first met Gareth Keenan. She manages to both sneer and cheer at the same time and (quelle surprise) I simply cannot get enough of her.

Ultimately, Hyperdrive proves that British comedy continues to mine fresh takes from familiar genres. It might not be as socially relevant as, say The Office managed to be, but it's a hilarious respite from the mindlessness and tedium of the workday. Even if your day didn't involve flesh-eating aliens.

"Hyperdrive" airs Friday evenings at 9 pm ET and 10 pm PT on BBC America.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Ghost Whisperer (CBS); 1 vs. 100 (NBC); WWE Friday Night SmackDown (CW; 8-10 pm); Grey's Anatomy (ABC); Nanny 911 (FOX); Wicked Wicked Games (MyNet)

9 pm: Close to Home (CBS); Las Vegas (NBC); Brothers & Sisters (ABC); Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy (FOX); Watch Over Me (MyNet)

10 pm: NUMB3RS (CBS); Law & Order (NBC); 20/20 (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: Hardware on BBC America (11 pm ET).

It's the second season of Britcom Hardware, starring Martin Freeman of the original UK version of The Office, taking place at a small (you guessed it!) hardware store. On tonight's episode ("Big Foot"), the guys try to convince boss Rex that he's shrinking while Mike fills in at the cafe, but learns that working with his girlfriend isn't all it's cracked up to be.

8:30 pm: Spaced on BBC America (11:30 pm ET).

It's the second season of one of the wackiest Britcoms ever devised. On tonight's episode ("Change"), Marsha and Amber's latest row leads to Amber moving out and Mike taking the now-empty room, while Tim and Daisy head to the unemployment office.

10 pm: Hyperdrive on BBC America (9 pm ET)

On the premiere episode of this hilarious space station-set workplace comedy, visitors leave behind a vicious parasite that, well, begins to eat the crew while Commander Henderson and Teal try to close a deal with an isolationist alien.

10:40 pm: Feel the Force on BBC America (9:40 pm ET)

It's the US premiere of UK cop spoof Feel the Force. On tonight's episode, Bobbins tries to solve a murder while Frank tries to use the case to land a date. Hmmm, think these two plotlines could somehow come together?


Anonymous said…
This show is hilarious! Kind of like a British "Galaxy Quest." I love the cast.
Anonymous said…
Thanks for the heads up on this show. I had not heard about it before this review but I tuned in and loved it. It was really funny and Nick Frost was great!
Anonymous said…
Absolutely brialliant comedy!
Have to watch the episodes at least 3 times to get all the jokes!

Would love to make a video game
for it!

Jeff Miller, FCDG

Popular posts from this blog

What's Done is Done: The Eternal Struggle Between Good and Evil on the Season Finale of "Lost"

Every story begins with thread. It's up to the storyteller to determine just how much they need to parcel out, what pattern they're making, and when to cut it short and tie it off. With last night's penultimate season finale of Lost ("The Incident, Parts One and Two"), written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, we began to see the pattern that Lindelof and Cuse have been designing towards the last five seasons of this serpentine series. And it was only fitting that the two-hour finale, which pushes us on the road to the final season of Lost , should begin with thread, a loom, and a tapestry. Would Jack follow through on his plan to detonate the island and therefore reset their lives aboard Oceanic Flight 815 ? Why did Locke want to kill Jacob? What caused The Incident? What was in the box and just what lies in the shadow of the statue? We got the answers to these in a two-hour season finale that didn't quite pack the same emotional wallop of previous season

Have a Burning Question for Team Darlton, Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, or Michael Emerson?

Lost fans: you don't have to make your way to the island via Ajira Airways in order to ask a question of the creative team or the series' stars. Televisionary is taking questions from fans to put to Lost 's executive producers/showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse and stars Matthew Fox ("Jack Shephard"), Evangeline Lilly ("Kate Austen"), and Michael Emerson ("Benjamin Linus") for a series of on-camera interviews taking place this weekend. If you have a specific question for any of the above producers or actors from Lost , please leave it in the comments section below . I'll be accepting questions until midnight PT tonight and, while I can't promise I'll be able to ask any specific inquiry due to the brevity of these on-camera interviews, I am looking for some insightful and thought-provoking questions to add to the mix. So who knows: your burning question might get asked after all.

Pilot Inspektor: CBS' "Smith"

I may just have to change my original "What I'll Be Watching This Fall" post, as I sat down and finally watched CBS' new crime drama Smith this weekend. (What? It's taken me a long time to make my way through the stack of pilot DVDs.) While it's on following Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars on Tuesday nights (10 pm ET/PT, to be exact), I'm going to be sure to leave enough room on my TiVo to make sure that I catch this compelling, amoral drama. While one can't help but be impressed by what might just be the most marquee-friendly cast in primetime--Ray Liotta, Virginia Madsen, Jonny Lee Miller, Amy Smart, Simon Baker, and Franky G all star and Shohreh Aghdashloo has a recurring role--the pilot's premise alone earned major points in my book: it's a crime drama from the point of view of the criminals, who engage in high-stakes heists. But don't be alarmed; it's nothing like NBC's short-lived Heist . Instead, think of it as The Italian