Thursday, 28 January 2010

Pretty Sophisticated for a Saturday Morning Show!

Parallel 9: end of series 1

The alien prisoner presenters of the show, say farewell to capsule computer Tope, as they attempt to escape the prison and go back to their alien planet. An unfunny Shakespeare gag later, Mercator commands time to reverse and viewers are on tenderhooks. Can they get back to their planet Zab, or whatever it's called, safely, or being blasted to atoms?

What am I on about?

Parallel 9 was an ever-changing not-so-missed BBC Saturday morning show that struggled to make an impression on kids back in 1992. Running for 3 series, firstly running alternatively to "Going Live" and "Live and Kicking" in the summer months. This was Sci-fi tinged shows where the presenters also evaded into a fictional storyline, with one female presenter playing it straight, while the other actors/presenters played it as aliens from another planet. This is in conjunction with the very last part of this season. The first season was something different alright, for Saturday mornings, but it's very warped nature made it feel distant to the viewer, when compared to the likes of "Going Live!" beforehand. Not only that, it was set in a largely dark and dreep, but impressively massive studio set, based on a prison theme, complete with a floating capsule. The show featured cartoons like "Toxic Crusaders" and had a computer gaming challenge as well as live (mime) acts. However it was disappointing, but memorable for Mercator, the main character, who always played in character, still learning the culture of Earth. This could be quite an annoying factor though, hence the more wised-up Calendular, the Earth girl. Mercator was a robed alien prince with the best set of eyebrows ever. To show appreciation, he wouldn't clap his hands together as Earthlings do, but slap his hand across his forehead continuously. Unfortunately, this doesn't appear in the clip above. 52 year old, Roddy Maude-Roxby played the role of Mercator, but was never asked to come back in the later series, opting for someone much younger. None of the original cast came back for a second series, as it was not well received.

The other alien prisoners exiled from their alien home, did seem to be more wised-up, but didn't really come across well as presenters. We'd never heard of them in the world of Children's TV, they didn't do anything in the CBBC Broom Cupboard. Their fictional names were Steyl, Skyn and Thynkso. The only one that was any good, was the sole female member, Steyl. The other 2 seemed to play it a little bit dim.

Looking back, the set does seem more impressive than you remember, as you get to see the full scale of it, at the end of this clip. The theme song's great too, "time for yooou to paaaaaaaaay!". That was the best of the show really, but there are a few more interesting clips from "Parallel 9" on Youtube. The show, with a new cast in the second series, was more appealing to children and colourful, but it was so dramatically changed. By the 3rd series, it was by then very linear, and the Sci-fi element, was no longer an interesting quirk, which felt wasted.

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