Cruise of the Gods Review
A review of the TV comedy Cruise of the Gods
It is apt that TV sci-fi fans choose to live on a parallel world to this one. Their planet is one where blazered, plimsolled villagers pursue a bus across Westminster Bridge because that is what Patrick McGoohan did in an episode of The Prisoner. A place where huge conventions are held to discuss who the best Dr Who was and at which otherwise forgotten actors relive their glory days (and pick up a welcome pay cheque).
“These people are not properly developed”, complains hard-up actor Andy van Allen, on the phone to his agent in Cruise of the Gods. Andy, played by Rob Brydon, has reluctantly agreed to reprise his role as the hero of Children of Castor, an obvious reference to such wobbly TV ‘classics’ as Blake’s 7 and The Tomorrow People. Twenty years after the series has ended, and desperately seeking respite from his job as a hospital porter, he finds himself as a paid but unwilling guest on a specially chartered cruise with the Castor fan club, where he is expected to don his old mullet-style wig and moonboots, and attend lectures where each moronic episode is analysed for its philosophical significance.
Andy’s pain turns to agony when he has a chance onshore encounter with his Castor co-star Nick Lee (Steve Coogan), now enjoying mega-star status in the hit American series Sherlock Holmes in Miami (‘yo Holmes’, says Watson)! Nick of course thinks it would be great fun to join-in with the on-board role-playing, as Andy desperately tries to conceal his fall from grace and the fact that his only claim to fame since Castor is as a bandaged, comatose patient in Casualty. Nick kindly gives Andy a role in a Holmes episode as ‘third scumbag’, dispensed to an early grave by a gun-toting Holmes within a minute of making his first and only appearance.
Written by Tim Firth, this is a well-observed and cleverly scripted comedy, with some nice performances from the cast, including the ever-reliable Philip Jackson as the drunken writer (who cruelly disillusions his admirers by revealing that his characters’ names are in fact anagrams of dishes from the menu of his local curry house), and David Walliams as the nerdish club chairman affecting to rise above the fanaticism of the fans and utterly failing to disguise his own.
The programme could be accused of exploiting an easy target - after all, we all have our obsessions, and the greatest anoraks of all are surely those who are glued to Match of the Day every Saturday evening.
However, redemption is at hand as Andy discovers that the young man (James Corden) who has been so besotted with him is in fact his son, the result of a fling with an extra on Castor, and that both Nick and the club know he now pushes hospital trolleys for a living – and do not give a jot. It is time to show his gratitude.
So Andy and Nick happily don their costumes once more to give their devoted and deserving followers the performance of a lunchtime. A fitting tribute to sci-fi fanatics everywhere. Live long and prosper!