Clone (2008)

We have had a large number of “snow days” here in my neck of the woods lately. A typical winter storm here is usually no more than three inches at max; so having the sky rip open and dump two servings of nearly two feet each is unheard of. Needless to say, my state was declared a federal “disaster area”, and my work has been closed. What a better time to get some new material up for this very blog! Since I can’t leave the house at all, I was browsing Hulu’s “BBC” section and noticed something I had not heard of tucked away that could be useful for this blog. The show in question is a 2008 BBC3 production starring Jonathan Pryce, Mark Gatiss, Fiona Glascott, Oliver Maltman and Stuart Mcloughlin as the titular character – Clone.

Clone is the story of a secretive Army program to create a bloodthirsty killing machine for use in war. Since this is a comedy show with a science fiction lean and not a Universal Soldier film, one can immediately guess that this test went horribly wrong rendering the clone about as menacing as a kitten playing with a ball of yarn. Mark Gatiss (of Sherlock and League of Gentlemen fame) plays Colonel Black, a seemingly crazy and borderline psychopathic man put in charge of MI7, and ultimately the clone program as a whole. When the clone, Albert, is “born” his scientist “father” Dr. Victor Blenkinsop (as played by Brazil and Pirates of the Caribbean’s Jonathan Pryce) has his reputation shattered, and takes Albert away to a small village to protect him and hopefully “fix” his warrior programming. It seems Col. Black wants Albert dead and any involved in the failed experiment reprimanded. The duo spend their time hiding in a tiny pub and attempting to convince a math genius (Rose, as played by Fiona Glascott) to help them out.

BBC3 Clone 2008

With the all-star cast involved, one would imagine that Clone would have been a runaway smash hit of epic proportions. Sadly, while not terrible, the show does have some noticeable problems and only ran a paltry six episodes. The show itself was created in the midst of a rebranding of sorts within BBC3, a venture where big-wigs there decided to start targeting a younger demographic than it normally does. All of the actors involved are pretty good, and aside from some superior league scenery chewing by Mark Gatiss, most play things pretty well. I’m not digging on Gatiss, but the way he portrays Colonel Black is reminiscent of Doctor Evil from the Austin Powers films. A character as such would be brilliant in a skit comedy, but here it’s a bit silly. Equally over-the-top is Albert the clone. Just about everything he does is a situation of not understanding human conventions and culture, but not in a subtle way like other “fish out of water” comedies. One notable early scene shows Albert urinating all over a desert table full of éclairs and danishes, you know classy highbrow humor.

I think that is the real problem with this show is who it is targeting. On one hand it is written in such a way that it reminds me of another quirky BBC comedy called My Hero. That show was a story of an alien that came to Earth and became a superhero despite his complete inability to understand humans. Like Mork and Mindy, My Hero dealt with the adult relationships this alien obtained and how he became more human. Sadly Clone seems to not be written for adults at all, and had it not been for a bit of adult humor within, I would assume this was a kid’s show. It bounces from situation to situation where Albert does something shocking like staring into someone’s window while they are intimate with no clothes on, then him getting scolded about it. It’s like a raunchy version of Curious George. This identity crisis within the script keeps it hard to pin down and ultimately keeps it as nothing more than low budget filler television.

All in all, Clone is fine if you have some free time and want a humorous show to waste some time on. Stuart Mcloughlin is a good comedy clown, and would work really well in similar shows. Sadly the rest of the cast is severely underutilized and seemingly out of place to the point where you may wonder why an actor such as Pryce, or even Gatiss for that matter, bothered with such a show. I didn’t hate Clone, but I can see the spark it holds, the potential to be great show that was ultimately wasted for an audience that probably wouldn’t even like the show.

Mark Gatiss in Clone, a BBC3 comedy

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