Anthology series have always had something of a hit-and-miss nature. For every fantastic episode of The Twilight Zone, there were half a dozen utterly naff ones. Of the twenty six episodes of Showtime`s Masters of Horror, only about ten actually stand up to a second watching, and the less said about Freddy`s Nightmares the better…
Springing from the pages of the French science fiction comic of the same name, the second season of the moderately successful Franco-Belgian TV series Metal Hurlant Chronicles is a bizarre little fantasy anthology following the dying meteor Metal Hurlant as it passes by various planets, affecting each one in strange and destructive ways.
Boasting, as every good anthology series should, an impressive cast of B-listers, from the legendary John Rhys Davies to Mortal Kombat Legacy`s Michelle Lee and, or course, everyone`s favourite bleach-blonde vampire who`s done nothing of any worth since Sunnydale got sucked up into the Hellmouth, James Marsters, Metal Hurlant takes us one a TARDIS-like journey through time and space. From the dusty Wild West to the furthest edges of the universe, the meteor unwittingly unleashes its nihilistic aura on everything and everyone it passes by.
The opening episode, Whiskey, in which we travel back to the American frontier, introduces us to a doctor (Marsters) who, after all but giving up on life, is suddenly endowed with all-healing hands. Of course, in the old West, bringing gun-slingers back from the dead is not always the best of ideas, and despite his best intentions, the doctor quickly becomes a figure of hatred as his town suddenly becomes overrun by immortal bandits. It’s a great opener, and really reminds us just why we fell in love with Marsters (seemingly unaging himself!) almost twenty years ago. Unfortunately, the series never tops this, and as the half dozen episodes roll by, one does find oneself wondering when it is actually going to pick up.
The stories range from the overtly stupid (the episode in which a rabbit is turned into a giant bunny monster and is then hailed the savior of humanity is just plain ridiculous) to the utterly dull, and despite some pretty decent CGI and make-up effects throughout, the show would certainly not bring audiences back week after week were it to run on British TV
The acting throughout is sketchy; with this being an English language Franco-Belgian production, save for the big names, most of the actors are Belgians speaking in English, and one does wonder whether they are struggling to act in their second tongue, or simple not great performers in the first place. With the magazine`s cult following in France, it`s peculiar that they simply didn’t make it a French language piece in the first place.
Perhaps fans of the magazine will enjoy the realization of the comic book stories, but for the uninitiated, Metal Hurlant is a meteor that hurtles a clumsy path into oblivion.
Dir: Guillaume Lubrano
Scr: Jim Alexander, Stephane Lavallois, Guillaume Lubrano,
Starring: James Marsters, Michelle Lee, John Rhys Davies
Prd: Justine Veillot, Guillaume Lubrano
DOP: Matthieu Misiraca
Number of Episodes: 6
Episode Runtime: 22mins
Season 2 of Metal Hurlant Chronicles is out on DVD and Blu-Ray from October 19th.