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P.R.O.B.E. - The Zero Imperative

episode 1

UK 1994
produced by
Andy Grant (executive) for BBV
directed by Bill Baggs
starring Caroline John, Jon Pertwee, Sylvester McCoy, Colin Baker, Linda Lusardi, David Terence, Mark Gatiss, Nicola Fulljames, Louise Jameson, Patricia Merrick, Jonathan Rigby, Sophie Aldred, Simon Messingham, Alexander Kirk, William Baggs, Peter Davison
written by Mark Gatiss, music by Mark Ayres

P.R.O.B.E., Liz Shaw, Doctor Who spin-off

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Several murders in insane asylums all point to Doctor Dove's (Sylvester McCoy) asylum that's (geographically) at the center of it, but that was to be shut down - until rich private donor Peter Russell (Colin Baker) throws in funding for another year.

P.R.O.B.E. investigator Liz Shaw (Caroline John) investigates all of this, and finds out that Russell is the adoptive son of the asylum's former owner Dr O'Kane (Jon Pertwee) - so does he have some evil intentions? The audience soon finds out no, Russell is as perplexed by the goings-on in the asylum as everyone else. Whatever it is though has to do with Patient Zero (David Terence), a homicidal maniac who has to be locked away in an isolated cell. One doctor (Mark Gatiss) who's too curious pays his curiosity with his life. Patient Zero appartently was at the center of an experiment to open the gate to hell, an experiment that Dr O'Kane started in good faith, but Dr Dove is determined to bring to evil conclusion. Oh, and Patient Zero is Russell's dad ...

The finale has Liz Shaw, Dr Dove and Russell all facing Patient Zero in what was supposed to be the final rite to open the gate, but what's left of Russell's dad in Patient Zero prevents him from killing his son, so instead he kills Dr Dove and dies himself, and thus the opening of the gate to hell has been prevented - well, postponed at least, there's always Patient One (Peter Davison) ...

 

The Zero Imperative is a well-acted and competently directed piece of science horror - that just fails to properly take off. Basically, it's over-crowded with characters, most of whom serve as in-jokes for Doctor Who-fans (and are mostly cast with that series' stars), its story is too convoluted and non-linear for a mere 60 minutes, and its shock-elements are a bit too downplayed to properly work.

Still, if a decidedly unexcited and old-fashioned (both in the best sense of the word) piece of science horror is your thing, you could do way worse than this - I mean really waaay worse.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD