With a new series of Red Dwarf nearly with us, I impatiently needed a sci-fi fix so I dusted off the Hyperdrive box set. I can honestly say I am glad I did as I had forgotten how truly funny this programme is. It follows the exploits of space captain Michael ‘Mike’ ‘Lucky Jack’ ‘Hendo’ Henderson and his crew aboard the HMS Camden Lock maintaining Britain’s interests in an ever changing Galaxy.
Twelve episodes were made over two seasons with the main crew of six characters appearing in all programmes, and it is the clever characterisation and script that hold the programme together. The show feels like the offspring of Red Dwarf and Parks and Recreation, which in practice is absolute genius.
Nick Frost heads the cast that includes Kevin Eldon, Miranda Hart and Dan Antopolski to name a few, and both seasons have guest appearances from other well known comedians such as Stephen Mangan and Sally Phillips. There are some excellently written situations as well as threads that run through both seasons but are used in such a way that the jokes don’t seem tired or overstretched.
Captain Henderson (Frost) is an excitable but naïve first time ships captain and relies heavily on York (Eldon), his first officer, in all aspects of running the ship. The main issue is that York is a sociopath obsessing over strict discipline. Add to this a neurotic communications officer called Teal (Hart) and a lazy workshy technical officer called Jeffers (Antopolski) and the dysfunctional bridge crew are complete.
Every episode of Hyperdrive is packed with great jokes and memorable quotes, making both seasons watchable more than once. The aliens that the crews encounter vary from The Red Shiny Robots of Vortis, who want to consume all the knowledge in the Universe, to the Lallakkis who are a sort of sub human trigger happy race who write a new song every time they declare war on someone. Unfortunately for Henderson, he is immortalised in their latest composition called ‘Kill the Humans’ after negotiations don’t go too well in series one.
I can honestly say there is plenty of sci-fii techno babble for everyone, as well as cleverly written situations that take their inspiration from everything we know and love about science fiction. You will see flickers of Star Wars, Star Trek, Demolition Man, The Matrix and even a reality TV version of Battle Royale. Add to this Frosts’ excellent comedic timing and we do have a winner. Hyperdrive never got the love it truly deserved in my opinion, as the shows’ writing is cleverly constructed.
The special effects are fine considering the nature of the programme but it is the characters which give the show its appeal. Everyday issues we all face have been neatly written into the year 2151, but this doesn’t detract from the pure ludicrousness of some of the situations the characters find themselves in. I highly recommend this show to everyone who loves sci-fi. It was first shown in 2006, so DVD’s for both seasons are well worth the price being charged.
The show is a CERT 12 (UK rating) but is generally family friendly with a low level of bad language and violence. If you give it a try I can guarantee you will be singing the latest Lallakkis war chant without realising it and shouting ‘Talky Door!’ every time you get in and out of a lift. You have been warned….