Review of Wizards vs. Aliens

30 minutes

Tom Clarke is a seemingly ordinary boy who loves football, but there’s something different about Tom... He has an astonishing secret – his family are Wizards! When an alien race known as the Nekross arrive on Earth hungry for magic, there’s big, big trouble in store for all wizardkind. With the help of his friend and science super-brain Benny, Tom must stop them!
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by Lucy
Mar 28, 2016 8:08PM EDT

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If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I’m rather keen on the CBBC series of Wizards vs Aliens. I was quite excited to see if the 3rd series reached the glorious heights of series 2.

Short answer: No it definitely DID NOT.
Long answer: (contains spoilers and some negativity)

Series 2 had wonderfully emotional story lines, well thought out plots, excellent character relationships and a super finale, with one of the main characters coming out as gay on a prime time children’s tv show (a first in the UK, to my knowledge). Series 3 didn’t really have any of these wonderful things.

The series started off well enough, your usual typical Tom-and-Benny-need-to save-their-school-from-aliens story, which was all well and good. But then the second story featured the departure of Benny! :( The thing which makes the show so so good is the excellent relationship between Tom and Benny, who are really quite different individuals, but both have their strengths and are proud of them (Tom having magic/courage and Benny using science/intelligence). The team work, friendship and sacrifices the boys are willing to make for each other makes for a dynamic relationship and great screen chemistry, which in turn keeps the story lines going along nicely. I appreciate that actors move onto other projects, BUT there was no suitable replacement for Benny for the rest for the series and it weakened the show considerable for me :( Each week other characters would try and fill in the gap, but to be honest it felt more like Tom was going through a series of semi-helpful companions rather having a solid friend and teammate helping out. Also Benny never got that date, which I think most people in the WvA fandom were hoping to see this series.

Another HUGE hole in this series was the absence of Lexi. Her relationship with humanity/Tom in the last series really made her a well developed character and the impact she had on Tom’s life was huge (spending 20 years together and having a child, pretty significant if you ask me) and these were almost COMPLETELY UNMENTIONED throughout the series :S I understand that it would have been hard to incorporate a “Find Lexi and Benny Jr” story arc, but there were so many opportunities to include a mention of her that were missed which was a shame.

The stories themselves this series have also been a bit lackluster, none lived up to the emotional heartbreaking The Thirteenth Floor from last series and some felt very similar to previous episodes (Ursula nearly dying again, for example) or even episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures. The finale of series 3 was almost exactly the same as series 2, in that Tom uses alien extracted magic to cast a few big spells and save the world (except it wasn’t as good as there was NO BENNY). The introduction of Jaz just for the series finale was a bit odd, as I felt no emotional connection to her when she was helping to save the world. If she’d been introduced as soon as Benny had left or in earlier episodes, it might have made her presence a little more significant.

However, there were a few characters that brightened up the series. Lady Lyzera was fantastic as Varg’s wife, she really got into the villain role and was cunning in a way that even I didn’t predict at times. However I am a little bit disappointed that we didn’t find out more about her magic as surely Neckross absorb magic so how could she use it if she absorbs any magic close to her?? The brief return of Jathro Technician 15 was a lovely surprise. He allows the Neckross to have more varied conversations and his technical knowledge moves the plot along nicely, so WHY DID HE HAVE TO GET KILLED OFF?! :(

It was nice to see Katie and Quinn have a bit more of a role this season, even if Katie is not as feisty as I’d like her to be. I would have loved to have seen more of Michael too, as he has lots of good lines and ideas, but I felt he was a wee bit underused. Varg’s characterisation was all over the place this series, he went from being angry with Tom to begging for his help and was basically being led by his wife’s decisions this series. It weakened his character a lot which was a shame as as the new king of Neckon, I hoped he might come into his own a bit, like Lexi did last series, sadly I didn’t feel this happened.

Possibly the best part of this series though has been the expansion of wizard history, lore and community. Lots of great historical references to wizarding wars, Caraticus Crow, other wizarding families and the mysterious Neverside. It was great to learn more about the very essence of magic and ground Tom’s magic in context!

Overall some interesting ideas and magical history this series - Lady Lyzera was an excellent addition to the main cast - but without a strong friend/relationship to be a lead character with Tom, the stories felt like they’re missing something. After all, what’s the point in saving the world if you haven’t got a best friend to share it with?

Click to reveal spoilers.


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