‘Wizards vs Aliens’: ‘Friend Or Foe’ spoiler-free review

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Blimey, someone other than those pesky titular aliens are looking for wizards in the latest instalment of the CBBC tea-time treat from Russell T Davies (Doctor Who) and Phil Ford (The Sarah Jane Adventures).

Wizards Vs Aliens ramps up the thrills in ‘Friend Or Foe’, which sees Nekross Lexi (played by Game of Thrones actress Gwendoline Christie) take human form (much to the chagrin of her brother) and embark on a spying mission, in a bid to find every drop of magic on Earth.

Elsewhere we are introduced to another strong female, Stephanie Gaunt (Ruthie Henshall) – a super-rich woman who spends a lot of her wealth hiding her identity due to the various nefarious activities she gets up to. Gaunt’s speciality here is hunting down a wizard, and the wizard in question is our hero, Tom Clarke.

Tom, as we’ve seen in the past, is a bit of a show off; leading to his downfall in this story. In a delightful opening sequence, where we get to witness Benny’s awesome science skills (by blowing up his class), his magical buddy cheekily spells everything back into place. Despite Benny’s plea of “Don’t you think that was a bit public?”, Tom’s arrogance blinds him to the fact that his actions have indeed been observed.

Catching this on camera is Gaunt henchman, Adams (who portrayed a similar role in Doctor Who‘s ‘The Impossible Astronaut’ as Nixon’s security), leading his mistress right to the boy wizard. But, Tom isn’t alone.

The football fanatic has made a new chum in super-tall, would-be football scout, Lucy. She’s appeared out of nowhere to Tom and his buddies, but we know who she really is – Lexi the Nekross.

Gwendoline Christie is outstanding in the role. The stunning actress reveals a most impressive talent for comic timing and bops around the screen in the most pleasing and amusing of fashions. Christie’s Amazonian-like (and by that we don’t mean she’s avoiding tax) stature makes for quite the striking image, as she towers over everyone like a beautiful giraffe.

But there’s also a heart to her character, Lucy, which adds an extra dimension to the normally cold and combative alien. As soon as she arrives on Earth, the female Nekross eyes in wonder the beauty of our planet. Regarding a flower she says, “So pointlessly pretty, yet so perfect.” Lucy/Lexi’s romantic heart continues as she and Tom appear to be becoming quite the Romeo and Juliet…

Equally stunning is her human “evil” counterpart, Stephanie Gaunt. Actress Ruthie Henshall absolutely devours the role, not so much as stealing each scene as invading and conquering each one as she strides majestically through the story with her killer-red lipstick and universe-ruling high heels.

Writer Clayton Hickman, probably best known for editing Doctor Who Magazine in the Noughties and co-writing the wonderful ‘Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith’ from The Sarah Jane Adventures, does a magnificent job on his first solo television job. He pitches the drama perfectly, and these are big, big moments it should be noted, but also peppers ‘Friend or Foe’ with much humour (including a chucklesome dig at the current coalition government) whilst retaining a solid heart to the proceedings (Tom’s, “A wizard always protects his friends,” is a perfect example of this).

This is another cracker from Wizards Vs Aliens that relies on the old enemies working as allies trope; a real thriller from the get go that will have you on the edge of your seat wondering what’s gonna happen next. And, to top it off, there are two amazing performances from two brilliant women – quite unlike anything else you’ll see on the small screen this week.

Airs on Monday 19 and Tuesday 20 November 2012 on CBBC.

> Order Series 1 on DVD on Amazon.

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