‘Wizards vs Aliens’: ‘Grazlax Attacks’ review

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The new series from former Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies and The Sarah Jane Adventures writer Phil Ford continues with an incredibly fun and engaging outing featuring some very, very cute critters.

After a brief retread of last week, with the two main characters Tom and Benny performing some detailed expositional material (just in case you missed the previous story), we are then introduced to Mr and Mrs Sherwood – the latter’s parents.

Insisting on being referred to by their first names, Richard and Tricia welcome Tom into their home offering home-made lemonade and organic bread whilst inadvertently embarrassing their son at every turn. With his sustainable multi-fuel boiler in the basement and French word fixation, Don Gilet’s portrayal as the father is hilarious and the former EastEnders religious nut-job reveals a superb comedic talent.

Likewise, Nina Sosanya (who Doctor Who fans may remember from the classic 2006 episode, ‘Fear Her’) is a delight as the mother, a mirror image of her husband. The pair make for wonderful viewing and we hope to see much more from the couple in the future.

Hilarity does run high during the two episodes, mainly down to the exploits of the titular alien, the Grazlax – a ferocious little beastie, sent from the Nekross to Earth. For the first half there’s just one of the little guys but it doesn’t take long before we a Gremlins-style switch and there’s loads of the diminutive blighters causing havoc and laughs along the way.

In the giggle department, worth noting are both the dinner scene, where the Sherwoods are oblivious to the attack taking place around them, and the moments in part two where Tom is trying his best to be cool with possible love interest Kate (Manpreet Bambra) whilst Benny is terrorised by the Grazlax. Great stuff.

The denouement also features some riotous slapstick behaviour as the boys try to kill the aliens through opera (science winning out over magic in this case) and then find themselves splurged with goo in a number of violent deaths for the Grazlax.

But it’s not all laughs and ticklesome fun. Tom and Benny find themselves bonding over their respective teenage issues. The former can’t talk about his wizard properties with his family (or feels he cannot) whereas Benny, who doesn’t fit in at school, isn’t a fan of his parents’ regime – creating the “Shed of Dread”, where he keeps his own telly (to watch illicit non-educational, non Richard & Tricia-approved shows).

Full credit to actors Scott Haran (Tom) and Percelle Ascott (Benny) who play the parts perfectly; jumping in tone from the laughs, the thrills and the drama with ease. It’s these very tone shifts, so expertly relayed on screen, that make Wizards Vs Aliens such an enjoyable watch.

‘Grazlax Attacks’ is most definitely the “romp” of the series – and this is by no means a derogative statement. We all enjoy a romp now and again. But, if you’re not into the more rompular tale, fear not. The series is about to take quite a serious turn and the fun romp will be merely a memory. A damn fun memory though!

Aired on Monday 5 and Tuesday 6 November 2012 on CBBC.

> Order Series 1 on DVD on Amazon.

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