January 09, 2005

Ultimate Force

That ITV have brought back Ultimate Force for a third series is frankly something of a miracle. I'd hazard a guess that it pays for itself in international sales terms (I saw an ad for this series last autumn in Broadcast around the time of one of the big international TV sales conferences). It may be back for a new series, but evidently not all the cast thought that it was worthwhile, so a whole bunch of them were killed off in short order during a bungled attack in Tikrit. "Tikrit", incidentally, saw the best dressing up of an abandoned quarry since Dr Who. You couldn't actually see any of their faces you understand, since they were all dressed as Arabs wearing ghutras. But they included the previous co-star of the series. Since the solitary female character in the series back at base had been romantically involved with this character, she was summarily removed from her job.

I'd imagine that a certain type of person queues up at HMV on a Monday morning to be the first to buy the DVD of this sereies. I'm not in that group. A basic Ultimate Force story goes something like this. A group of bad guys are doing something bad somewhere. They'll end up holed-up in some base for a finale in which they'll be overrun by our heroic SAS force who'll then go on to shoot each and every one of them dead. Indeed, at the end of this episode, "Henno" (Ross Kemp) counted up the dead terrorists by emptying a few bullets into each of them as he strolled around the plane they'd just stormed. I'm sure the airline that had to pay thousands of pounds worth of damage for each round that went through the floor and damaged engines etc., will have been most happy.

With a wholesale change of cast, we needed a few new faces, including a new female character. She quickly became the regiment's first female despite warnings that SAS would quickly become the laughing stock of the British Army. But she'd performed gutsily in a series of humiliating exercises that saw her need to remove her clothes on more than one occassion. For the producers of the series, this wasn't enough female flesh on show, so we had the ludicrous sight on another SAS officer sharing a sauna with two buxom flight attendents as they awaited developments at the airport with a hijacked plane under siege.

I know I shouldn't take this sort of programme too seriously, the makers certainly don't, but with a bit more work, they could come up with something a little more relevant to today. Compare and contrast with Spooks, which is also primarily an entertainment show, yet one in which we get to face up to questions of the day that matter. They're not afraid to really address the issues.

In the meantime, we had an excellent ending to this episode with our female heroine joining all the male soldiers in the communal showers to show that she has the "balls". And while they're all showering off, we see a guidedog enter the showers, and the CO announces that he's introducing them personally to the Home Secretary. Does this go some way to explaining Kimberley Quinn?

Posted by adambowie at January 9, 2005 04:26 PM
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