If you’ve been watching BBC1′s new ‘thriller’ (ha!) The Last Enemy, you’ll know that it’s not particularly thrilling. For something that bases its plot around IT, it shows appalling knowledge of technology on the artists’ and directors’ part, and generally has a very ropey plotline full of holes.
This is how the titles start. You see an old CRT computer screen, with someone typing ‘START T.I.A’ at a non-existent command prompt. The computer synthesises a text-to-speech echo, which sounds like a robot badly impersonating a woman with a Southern British accent badly impersonating someone with a Middle Eastern accent.
TIA, in case you’re wondering, is the system that the government is trying to introduce through a bill in Parliament. It’s a clunky backronym for ‘Total Information Awareness’, and pulls data from all sources available and queries these sources to produce a comprehensive list of everyone in the country.
Firstly, it’s very unlikely that anyone would start the system from a command prompt. They would almost certainly use a GUI (graphical user interface). Even if they did start the system from a command line, the line ‘START T.I.A’ would be very unrealistic, as it is simply the TIA client, not the server.
Therefore, the command would be something more like ‘C:/Program Files/HMGOVT/TIAClient.exe’. Or, if on Unix, ‘/bin/tiaclient.sh’ assuming a shell script starts it.
This is the TIA boilerplate, or splash screen. Plenty of problems here: firstly, the IPv4 address 24.67.9011.248 could not possibly exist. Also, as the ‘adding server’ output appears before that, it appears that the connection has been opened before the IP address has been resolved.
Also, what’s the point of that ‘ID’ thing? No idea.
This is the goodie, Stephen Ezard (played by Benedict Cumberbatch). He’s a hapless but rather likeable mathematician who came up with an interesting conjecture, before studying killer bees and then fleeing to China. He’s back in Britain because his brother Michael was killed by a landmine, and he got home too late for the funeral. Mysteriously, he was buried, even though purportedly no body parts could be found.
He’s been brought in by an ex-girlfriend, who’s now a government minister, to make sure that TIA becomes law. Here, he’s using TIA in a basement that (I think) is in a bunker underneath Downing Street. For some bizarre reason, whenever he presses a key, a tone is generated. The irritating echo voice is also heard here – the computer acknowledges absolutely everything he does.
And this man, Gaz from The Full Monty, is the baddie. He is threatening Stephen having kidnapped him, and is threatening to kill him with a 1500V electric fence.
How terrifying. But if the current is only a few microamps, he should be OK.
This is what a record looks like in TIA. Doesn’t seem to follow any UI conventions I know of – and where’s the mouse cursor? And what’s that data scrolling down the side?
The picture is of Yasim, Michael’s widow, who Stephen met when he returned to the UK and immediately fell in love with, kissed, and made love to. As the baddie put it, “you spent the night of your brother’s funeral banging his wife”. Very eloquent.
TIA also supports video feeds. With lots of pointless information scrolling down one side, and a ridiculously high bitrate for something in a hidden camera.
To cut a long story short, Yasim and Stephen are captured again by Robert Carlyle.
They’re bundled into a van, and the baddie orders them to strip. This makes sense: they can’t call for help if they’re stark naked. However, he then throws the clothes out of the van. This is a bad move, as it has both of their IDs in it. It allows the police to identify them both as missing.
Incidentally, judging by this rather pointless nude shot, I wouldn’t expect to see Benedict Cumberbatch on the front of Men’s Health Magazine any time soon.
Worse still he gives them blue latex jumpsuits to wear. This can (a) prove that someone was kidnapped, stripped and forced to work against their will, and (b) via DNA and fingerprint evidence, link the assailant to the kidnapping. Carlyle’s character is meant to be a trained serial killer and agent.
Overall, The Last Enemy is ropey at the best of times. It’s held together by good actors, but it is, to me, somewhat hilarious.
Obligatory Legal Mush: Images are © the BBC. They are used to illustrate a point and for critical analysis, and therefore used fairly under UK law. If the BBC would like these pictures to be removed, they are welcome to contact me at their earliest convenience so that I can remove them as immediately as possible.