Dec 31, 2020

"Alex Rider": A Teenage James Bond, His Goofy Best Friend, and Exquisite Victorian Stickers

 I have seen the first episode of Alex Rider, about a teenage James Bond.

Scene 1:  Establishing shots of New York.  Scruffy Scary Guy drives to a parking garage, takes out a sinister satchel, and does something scary with a hologram.  Meanwhile Parker (George Sear) is just putting on his tie.  He tells his Dad he's going to an exhibition at the Rubin, but they'll get lunch later.

 Whoops, I thought Parker was the main character.  Turns out it's Dad (Michael, played by Steven Brand).  He cancels his lunch with Parker and appointment with the Senator, and calls someone named Brandt: "I need to talk to you about Parker.  It's urgent."  

Then he steps into an elevator and plunges to his death!

Turns out that Scruffy Scary guy has projected a holographic image of an elevator car onto an empty shaft, in order to kill Michael!  Much easier than shooting him!

Parker looks out the window, smiling.  He was in on it!

Five minutes of commercials.  Since when does a streaming service have commercials?

Scene 2:
London.  A ritzy school.  Alex (Otto Farrantm left) and Tom (Brenock O'Connor) have stepped out of a 1980s movie, where teenage boys can think of nothing except girls.

Tom: Girls!  There's a party tonight!  Girls will be there!  We just need Jahit to text us the address.  Girls!

Alex: Girls!  Will the Girl of My Dreams be there?  Girls!

Which seems odd, since Otto Farrant starred as a gay teenager in Spool, and Brenock O'Connor played a teenager whose bully has a secret crush on him in Sing Street.  Plus it's 2020.  

The teacher confiscates Tom's phone before they can get the address, so after class Alex does some remarkable acrobatic work to break into school and retrieve it.  He's got the spy skills already!

Unfortunatly, he's caught.

Scene 3: Uncle Ian (Andrew Buchan) is driving Alex home and yelling at him for being a screw-up.  He confiscates Alex's phone and grounds him.

Scene 4: At home, Alex complains to Jack that there's no food in the house.  Not to worry, she got take-out (don't tell your Uncle).  

I don't understand Jack's role in the family: an African woman about Alex's age, responsible for the cooking, so housekeeper?  Adopted sister?  But Uncle Ian consults her about how to deal with Alex, so  his wife?  

At dinner, Uncle Ian watches a news story about Michael's death. "He client bank where I work."  Dude, I could tell in 30 seconds that you are a spy.  Why hasn't Alex figured it out?

Turns out that Alex knows Michael's son Parker from his youtube prank videos.  He used to be fun-loving and outrageous, until his dad sent him to a special school in France (uh-oh, a Stepford son).

Scene 5: 
In his office, Uncle Ian investigates Parker to find out the name of that special school (uh-oh, he wants Alex to become a Stepford nephew!).

It's Pointe Blanc.

Jack states that she's completed her degree, so she won't be working for him anymore.  Aha, a housekeeper who became close to the family..  That absolutely was not clear in Scene 4.

Scene 6:  Their parents didn't confiscate their laptops, so Tom and Alex get the address of the party via email and sneak out of their houses to go.

It's a standard teen party from the 1980s, full of booze and girls! girls! girls!.  Alex gets tongue-tied while talking to the Girl of His Dreams.  Tom tries to pick up a girl by pointing out that the X-Men are metaphors for the LGBTQ experience.  I like how he says LGBTQ instead of gay.  A modern touch in a tv show with extremely retro norms.

Scene 7: 
Uncle Ian in a car with his colleague Martin (Liam Garrigan),  Apparently Martin mentioned the Pointe Blanc school to their Russian friend, and he got all weird and paranoid, and refused to say anything over the phone.  He wants to meet in a deserted parking garage instead.

Scene 8: Whoops, the "Russian friend" is the Scruffy Scary Guy who orchestrated the elevator trick, aka Yassen (Thomas Levin, left). 

He admits to killing Michael, so they're going to arrest him.  But Martin turns out to be a double agent!  They kill Uncle Ian!

Scene 9:  The Agency has cleaned up and explained Uncle Ian's death as an auto accident. Two Suits discuss what to do "about the boy."

They interview Martin, who says that Uncle Ian called him with new information on The Varna File. But the Varna File was a cyber-attack. "People like that don't carry guns." Uh-oh, his story has holes in it.

They review the case of another agent whose son went to the Pointe Blanc school, and who then died.  There must be a connection!  Pointe Blanc is brainwashing agents' sons to kill them.

Are there that many agents with teenage sons?

Scene 10: Alex is investigating Uncle Ian's death.  No hospital records, no mortuary records.  Why not?  And  Uncle Ian never drove over the speed limit.   It couldn't have been an auto accident.

Wait -- his confiscated cell phone is still in the glove box!  They can use a GPS tracker and locate the car,

Another five-minute long commercial break.  Now I remember how annoying it was to watch network tv.

Scene 11: Alex and Tom track the cell phone to a scary warehouse.  The car is being "printed" and disposed of, with the "usual cover story."  A goon rushes out and attacks them, and Alex beats him up.  Wow, the boy has skills!

Scene 12:
The Suits (Ace Bhatti, left, and a short-haired butch woman) summon Alex and tell him the whole story.  His uncle was a spy working for a secret subset of M16: "M16 gathers information.  We act on it."   So they're rather shady and unethical.  And they want Alex to do a job for them.

They don't say what it is, but I assume it's to infiltrate the Pointe Blanc School and find out how the boys are being brainwashed.

Alex wants nothing to do with them.

Five minute commercial break, and you can't fast-forward through it.  They are selling a book of "exquisite Victorian stickers" for you to decorate your diary entries with.  Who keeps a hand-written diary anymore?

Scene 13: Child Protective Services shows up to take Alex to a foster home.  At the same moment, Immigration shows up to deport Jack.  Frustrated, Alex runs into the bedroom and calls the Agency: "Ok, I'll do it.  Call off your dogs!"  The CPS and Immigration agents instantly get phone calls and leave.  That's power.  Very sinister power....

Alex gets into a limo while sinister music plays.  The end.

Beefcake: No.

Gay Characters:  Hard to say. Uncle Ian doesn't seem to be interested in ladies (he's dead, but appears in flashbacks in most episodes).  Tom and Alex may have a buddy-bonding romance.

Anachronisms:  Fighting the Russians -- the Cold War is over.  1980s Girls! Girls! Girls! rhetoric.

Stupid Names:  Lots.  Jack Starbright, Dr. Grief, Sir David Friend.  Not as bad as the original novels, where there are characters named Sabine Pleasure, Magnus Payne, and Mr. Grin.  

Homophobic Horowitz.  I can't figure out if Horowitz, the author of the original books, is homophobic or not.  He says "I have many gay friends and support same-sex marriage," and he gave James Bond an "outspoken gay friend" in one of his novels. But another novel has a homophobic protagonist -- written in the first person -- and he got in trouble for "defending Christians who don't approve of gay marriage."

Will I Keep Watching:  Probably.  There may be some buddy-bonding at the special school.  But those five-minute commercial breaks about exquisite Victorian stickers -- a big turn-off.


  1. Man, I never thought someone would rip off pre-Crisis Jason Todd. The "bad guys employ CPS" thing, I mean.

    The woman who did it would later go on to rape Batwoman because that happens to every bat at least once, apparently.

  2. The shot of the boy and the beefy bear daddy type looks like a still from gay porn


No offensive, insulting, racist, or homophobic comments are permitted.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...