02/12/2014

Wizards vs Aliens Twilight Falls


24/ 25 November 2014 CBBC:; Written by Phil Ford / Directed by Mark Everest/ Starring Scott Haran, Annette Badland, Michael Higgs, Alex Childs, Kristian Phillips, Clive Russell, Chontelle Brown
The season’s story arc reaches a conclusion as the infamous Wraith Lord Warlock emerges into the real world though there is a problem. As menacing as he tries to be eyes are drawn to what’s sitting on his head. It is some sort of helmet with horns and it looks so silly that a character even jokes about it later. Try as he might to be threatening and evil, Warlock’s effectiveness is reduced by this helmet. It’s the one force he cannot quite overcome.  

"Well, I honestly don't think it looks that silly at all. Pity a horse's tail got snagged in it though."


As a finale `Twilight Falls` packs a visual punch opening up convincingly in the aftermath of a famed battle as Warlock is revealed to be part of Randal Moon’s past. Zip to the present day and the Line of Twilight is under threat now that the Nekross sorceress Lady Lyzera has her hands on the Key of Bones. Yes, it’s all rather expositional and that tone continues during some lengthy exchanges which favour the mythical over the emotional. As a result the story cannot match the impact of last year’s finale.
Part of the problem is the introduction of new character Jaz.  The issue is the wisdom of placing someone Tom hardly knows in such peril at this late stage. Her speedy learning curve means Jaz discovers more about what’s going on than even Benny did back in the first season’s opener. Surely it would have been better to have introduced Jaz for season four especially when there is Katie who could have filled this place here. We know her quite well and the actors enjoyed a rapport earlier this season .  Jaz is played well by Chontelle Brown but the character detracts from rather than complements the narrative.
On the positive side this is a great story for Dan Starkey who gets to spend some time out of costume for a change. He’s an excellent performer and maintains the balance between seriousness and humour constantly.  It is also a strong couple of episodes for Scott Haran who negotiates Tom’s conflicting fear of strong magic and desire to confront Warlock with suitable gravitas. Despite the hat Clive Russell grapples with the vocabulary of epic threats with just enough conviction.


"My dear, they're bound to spot the plot device if you leave it there."


It ends much the way you expect it will particularly as the source of the extra magic Tom would need has been sitting in front of us all season.  Lyzera’s threat becomes muted too quickly though the way Varg regains the upper hand is well realised.  It just about comes together though even the youngest viewer will surely be aware this is almost the same ending as last year, ie Tom needs a boost of super magic to defeat the enemy. It would be more interesting perhaps if he (ie the writers) had to think of something more original.
In the end what it misses is, well, Benny or at least a character with whom Tom has a strong connection.  Had Katie’s memory not been wiped earlier she could have become the emotional fulcrum for the finale but fun though Jaz is with her attitude, you don’t really care about her as much as if it were Katie or Benny in there.
It may be that the producers never imagined they’d have to deal with one of their leads leaving and they have generally compensated well enough but for all the clamour what this season has missed is a really strong character through line. Both Katie and Simeon had potential but were pushed aside too quickly, the end result being a climax which looks good (apart from that helmet!)  but is ultimately rather uninvolving.

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