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InHumanoids: The Complete Series|
voice cast: Michael Bell, William Callaway, Fred Collins, Brad Candel, and Richard Gautier
creator: Flint Dille
280 minutes (PG) 1986
Metrodome DVD Region 2 retail
reviewed by Alasdair Stuart
There's a school of thought that says the bigger the pile of insanity you heap on your
viewers, the better it'll be. If you don't so much suspend disbelief as shatter it
then the viewer can't help but be carried along for the ride. Silly becomes sane, stupid
sensible. In this case though there really is an awful lot of silly to deal with.
The basic idea is a Fortean's delight. Edward Agutter, Derek Bright, Jonathan Slattery
and Herc Armstrong are the Earth Corps, an elite group of scientists formed by the US
Government to investigate strange goings on underground. As the series opens they have
a lot to do as well, dealing with the discovery of a vast dinosaur skeleton in an amber
monolith and strange creatures being sighted in the forests.
The first disc contains InHumanoids: The Movie, a five-part story that sets up
their world and provides explanations for what exactly is going on. It's here that the
gleefully silly element creeps in, with Earth Corps' world turning out to be far more
dangerous than they could possibly imagine. It emerges that, centuries before, the world
was ruled by Metlar, Tendril and D-Compose, three 'Inhumanoid' monsters that were only
defeated by the combined forces of the Granites and Redwoods. (Or the rocks and the
trees to you and me.)
The world beneath ours that Earth Corps discovers is easily the series' strongest point.
The Granites in particular have different personalities and agendas that puts them a
cut above most fictional races in this sort of series. Likewise, most of the supporting
cast change loyalties at least once and you get a real sense of a complex, and unstable,
environment down there. The series' casual approach to science is also weirdly entertaining.
Whilst the geology it's based on is pretty much accurate some of the liberties it takes
are fantastic. The Earth's core almost certainly isn't a huge ball of lava suspended
in mid-air with lava conduits flowing to and from it but, on some level, you can't help
but wish it was.
This fun, cheerfully dopey set-up works best on the first disc. There's a coherent
story as Earth Corps struggle to understand this world and the dangers it poses and
an unusually cynical political subplot involving a scheming millionaire and a vacillating
politician. These first five episodes do a great job of telling the story; so good in
fact, that they leave the series very little room to develop.
Which, given the fact that there's another disc full of episodes is not good news. The
stories on the second disc quickly fall victim to the law of diminishing returns. There
are a couple of stand-outs, most notably The Surma Plan which follows a Russian
operation to retaliate against Inhumanoid aggression and The Masterson Team which
follows the opportunistic senator from the first disc as he sets out on a privately
funded mission in the full glare of the media spotlight. The problems remain though
and only get worse as the series progresses. The team's female sponsor is little more
than a cipher and, of course, her suit of power armour massively accentuates her breasts.
To make matters worse, the second disc introduces an evil scientist who is promptly
killed then resurrected from the dead, a creature of unspeakable evil that lasts two
episodes and Slither, a vast snake-like creature who used to rule the Earth and who
forced Metlar to build the pyramids and the temples of Angkor Wat to honour him.
None of these plots are particularly interesting or well developed and they lead to
some spectacular jumps in logic. This is particularly true in The Masterson Team,
which opens with Tendril attacking Bright's wedding, and then jumps to Asia where three
of the team are investigating the mysterious crash of a fighter plane. There's no mention
of where Bright is or what happened after the attack until the final two minutes where
it's revealed he's on honeymoon.
This sloppiness is also present in the two new members the team gains. One, Tank, introduced
in The Surma Plan has his suit made from the remains of his tank, apparently
with no tools to hand and in the middle of a Granite city. Sabrejet fares even worse,
not even gaining a name before appearing to save the day at the last possible moment.
To make matters worse, some of the closing episodes are ridiculously silly. Primal
Passions sees Tendril fall in love with the robotic version of him produced for
a movie (seriously), D-Compose turn the team's female team member Sandra into a zombie
in an effort to rekindle their romance, and Metlar steal and animate the Statue of
Liberty, who then whines at him, incessantly, in a New York accent. By the time the
series introduces a French treasure hunter with the second name Croissant in The
Masterson Team you know what sort of level it's operating on.
There's a great, cheerfully stupid cartoon here but unfortunately it's almost all on
the first disc. Some of the extras are fun, including box art from the original toys,
a TV ad for them, and episode scripts on disc two, but not even these can rescue it.
InHumanoids is fun but it outstays its welcome far, far too early.