Thursday, September 22, 2005

Somewhere Inbetween 1x03 - 'The Art of Keeping Secrets'

WRITTEN BY: Lee. A. Chrimes
PREMIERE DATE: 20/11/2004
PRODUCED BY: Monster Zero Productions http://www.somewhere-inbetween.co.uk/sibepisodes1.html

Chris and Twist arrive in Washington DC on an expedition to find rare occult antiquities and auction house Bagwell & Stitchley. Twist can't help but contain her boredom at Chris' determination to find something of value at the auction, and becomes frustrated when he dislikes the idea of helping the local community stop a band of vampire muggers. It's only when the trail of those muggers leads back to the sinister Bagwell, and his assistant Travers, that Chris becomes interested and realises Bagwell is practicing the dark arts, the results of which could spell big trouble for Twist......

I must admit, I feared this third installment was going to be a major letdown after the excellence of the opening two episodes. Now the characters and atmosphere of the show has been set up, I expected a sudden shift in quality. I expected the gear to slack a little, for a lightweight filler to churn out before the major arcs are forwarded in new directions. The only way this lived up to that expectation is that it was more lightweight. And, thankfully, that made the quality dip far less dramatically than I prepared myself for. Infact, it barely dipped at all.

As ever, the characters of Chris and Twist play off each other wonderfully. None of that sparkling wit from Twist is gone, or the perfect counterbalance of seriousness Chris provides. The mismatched partnership is showing no signs of growing stale. Admittedly, it shouldn't be at only three episodes in, but lesser shows would already be repeating dialogue or making the character foibles irritating. In the hands of a less skilled writer, Twist could come across extremely childish, unfunny and stupid. Chrimes, however, manages to make her genuinely funny and lovable all at the same time. I'm already invested in these characters after only three installments, and usually it takes online projects such as these a lot longer to find the characters voices. For nailing this right from the outset, Somewhere Inbetween stands out from the crowd.

I say this ep was more lightweight. Well, there's no denying that. Not that the previous episodes were serious endeavours into the human soul, but this could be construed much more as a stand-alone storyline than the previous two, which touched on arc elements sure to be followed up later. The story here is extremely fun. The guest characters, be they villainous auction-house owner Bagwell, his charming assistant Travers, or the greasy guest house owner Bodie, all are well-evoked and add a richness to the narrative. They do manage to make up for the minor shortcoming of the episode, in that the story is pretty thin. Not altogether that much happens, but this is overshadowed by great character moments and some, as ever with Chrimes, excellently written set pieces.

Mind you, despite all the talk of standalones and lightness, this episode does manage to get across it's central theme pretty well, which deals with Chris' apathy. Twist can't get her head around Chris' general reluctance to help general people in need, without something to gain himself. It's obvious he used to be much more of that Robin Hood, romantic persona, but something changed. It's not made clear what, which makes us wonder. Obviously, Chris had some kind of experience in his chequered past that led him to change his attitude, focus more of finding his vampiric cure. It's only the presence of Twist, and her badgering at him, that makes him step away from this inaction and do something to stop Bagwell's protectors terrorising the local community. In many ways, Twist is now becoming his conscience. She's also picking up tricks from him, as she dispatches a few goons with aplomb at one point. Nice to see she's applying the practical skills Chris has been teaching her.

So, all in all, the series is maintaining it's quality. It's been a rollicking ride so far, excellently written with a genuine humour and excitement. Let's hope the quality of this opening trio can be sustained. Oh, and incidentally, to say the episode is entirely standalone is selling it a trifle short. After all, there's a lovely little ending I never expected, which sets the scene for trouble to come. Oooh!...

WRITING: 2/2
GRAMMAR: 1.5/2
FORMATTING: 1/2
STYLE: 1.5/2
DEPTH: 1/2

FINAL RATING: 7/10

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