Sunday, March 4

Underground Menace - (5#) -

Last night, I opted out of watching Lindsay Lohan on SNL, in favor of watching what promised to be a rather intriguing episode of the Swedish Martin Beck TV Detective series on MHz International Mysteries. Earlier yesterday, I read a promotional synopsis which went something like this:

Nightvision #108: Beck uncovers a gang of young computer freaks who have transformed the entire underground Stockholm subway system into a real-life video computer game in which innocent people become targets. Duration: 1:25:50. 1997, color.

Did the episode live up to its promise?

Yes, it did. The Beck TV series, so far, has been of very uneven quality for me. Although the Beck series is new to us here in the U.S., it actually pre-dates the Wallander series.

This particular episode was outstanding. Keep in mind that it originated in 1997, not long after the 1995 Aum Shinrikyo sarin attack in the Tokyo subway system and yet, it still resonates today about fifteen years later.

The German TV reviewer Ulrich Behrens expressed his doubts about the psychological credibility underpinning the story, but I'm not sure I would agree with him about that.

Here in the U.S., we had the famous case of James Dallas Egbert III in the steam tunnels under some university and the fuss over LARPing, especially swirling around Dungeons & Dragons. Then, too, the very image of beasties emerging from some deep underground bowels of the earth to attack "normal" 9-5ers has an almost mythic vibe.

The story was written by Rolf Börjlind. I wish someone would interview him and ask him what inspired him. Its title in Swedish is Spår i mörker.

The story was left chillingly open-ended with the trailing innuendo that there might be an upcoming sequel in the New York City subway system. And the end featured some nice atmospheric saxophone music.

If you can catch this episode by means of some alternate technical venue, you might find it interesting.