Space Precinct episode 19: “Smelter Skelter”

Despite the nonsensical title, this one is actually a really good episode. We begin with a quite brutal scene of a gang robbing a jewellery store, where (of course) Brogan’s wife and daughter are shopping, and for the rest of the story Brogan’s wife and daughter have quite credible PTSD symptoms: Mrs Brogan becoming passive and withdrawn, young Liz having random anger fits, Mrs Brogan smashing crockery while laughing hysterically, eventually a collective eating-ice-cream-out-of-the-tub scene.

The Brogans acting like a reasonably normal TV family for a change.

And the plot? A physicist at the local university invents a machine which can put a hole in literally anything. Sacked when he refuses to share his data, he, understandably, tries to sell his invention to a businessman who owns asteroid mines. The businessman, however, uses the machine to conduct a series of increasingly complicated thefts, starting with the jewellery store– which might sound contrived, except it’s plain throughout that he’s a thrill-seeking psychopath who gets off on getting away with things. For instance, having discovered that the wedding ring he stole at the jewellers belonged to Brogan’s wife, he ostentatiously wears it any time he talks to Brogan. Of course, eventually he aims too high and gets hoist by his own universal-hole-drilling-machine, but for once it all makes sense.

It’s good to see that Space Precinct can pull it off once in a while, it’s just frustrating that it doesn’t do it more often.

Personal side note: my friend Andy Hopkinson was on the models team for this series, and his photo of Kaldor City for the interior of the CD booklet from “Occam’s Razor” is in fact photoshopped from one he took of Demeter City.

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Fiona Moore

Academic, anthropologist and SF writer, living, teaching and working in a global city.

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