The Tripods Season 2 Episodes 1 & 2

Episode 1: There’s a sense that the series may be starting to move into the potentially more interesting area of mixed technologies. While the lessons that the potential infiltrators attend are delivered via tried and trusted chalk and talk methods, there are theories about computers and even bio engineering discussed. The idea that the creatures inside the Tripods were engineered by man but turned against us seems far too bold to be thrown away in an academic conversation though; surely this should be what Will and co discover when they enter the City of Gold?

After fixing the engine and curing the captain's wife Beanpole decided to build a cottage.

There’s a lot of establishing work to wade through with the contrast of the Freemen’s training and zest for ideas with the compliant folk of a village who are nearly all capped. The effects look rather less special this week hinting at either a bit of a budget cut or perhaps keeping their power dry for later? At least we can marvel at another fashion line as the village’s inhabitants are sporting an Alpine look. I could be wrong but it does look as if the production ventured beyond Wales for this part of the story.

After boot camp Will and Beanpole are chosen to go to the tournament even though Will’s boxing has looked unconvincing to say the least. Henry is being kept behind on account of his suddenly acquired tactical prowess - Beanpole is supposed to the clever one- but more likely so he can rescue his mates later on.  Amusingly when this is announced at a big nosh up Henry’s reaction is almost as if he’s not made the live shows in The X Factor- you’re waiting for the sympathetic questions from Dermot O’Leary. When you think about it he’s probably got the better deal; moments after his friends leave you can bet he’ll be delving into the Toblerone store.

Episode 2: There’s a whiff of national stereotyping going on with this episode. We have Will being the dashing English hero ready to do the right thing whatever the personal risk. There is Beanpole the intellectual, cultured French genius who proves to be equally skilled as an engineer or doctor. And we have Fritz the hot headed German who always wants to obey orders. In the paciest episode the series has so far delivered we follow their journey by boat to Basle a town portrayed as positively medieval compared to previous villages.

It opens with a well- staged Tripod attack in the forest which manages to blend model shots, real Tripod feet props and CSO extremely effectively to create a tense scenario. The boat trip is also given a frisson of drama that belies the fact the vessel is travelling quite slowly. When the engine conks out and they might be grounded up steps Beanpole as his fascination with mechanics means he can fix the engine with little more than a bit of chin stroking and an oily rag. Barely has he finished sorting that out than he’s knocking up  herbal remedies to cure the captain’s sick wife. The Freemen have surely missed a trick here; they could just send Beanpole to the City of Gold and he’ll know where the off switch is. Ceri Seel delivers all this with panache and the result is a more interesting sort of hero than silly Will.

This week Paul McCartney ends up in the town pit after getting into a bar brawl with disgruntled Swiss people. There seem to be no oddly attired yet fair justice officials in this town. Though his antagonist get him drunk and he wins the boxing duel they force him to fight, it’s he who ends up being punished; clearly life under the Tripods have changed the Swiss. You start to feel that Fritz, who just wants to keep going and leave Will behind, might have a point. Though there is a sense that these incidents have been created just to show us Will really is a good boxer it does bring the best out of John Shackley who has till now been a fairly unconvincing hero.

You’re wondering where Henry is? Well he’s been left behind to presumably do boring things like draw maps and try on woolly hats. Fritz has taken his place in the trio and actor Robin Hayter has to deliver his lines in a German accent that by comparison makes Ceri Seel sound like he’s lived his entire life en François. Fritz is sitcom German but at least he adds more bite to the main narrative. Of course if he starts talking about the Freemen invading Europe they should chuck him into that pit right away.

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