Inspector Spacetime (TV Movie)
title card
Format: Made-for-TV movie
Created by: BTV-Omniversal-UPN co-production
Country of Origin: US
Starring: Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Christian Slater, Stephen Colbert
Original channel: UPN, BTV
Original language(s): English
Original run: 1999
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Inspector Spacetime (a.k.a. "Adversary Without") is a television movie based on the British science fiction series Inspector Spacetime. Developed as co-production among Omniversal Television, BTV/BTV-WC, and the American network UPN, the 1999 television film premiered on 11 May 1999 on CTV in Canada, two weeks before airing in the US and the UK, but only a few days after appearing on file-sharing sites on the Internet.

The film was the first attempt to revive Inspector Spacetime, intended as a back-door pilot for a new American-produced Inspector Spacetime series. It introduced Steve Carell as the Eighth Inspector and featured Christian Slater and Stephen Colbert as the Sergeant in his sixth and seventh incarnations, respectively. Although it earned high ratings in America, it was nearly universally reviled elsewhere, to the point a potential series was scrapped and the film itself it was only ever released on DVD in the United States.

Even though the film was produced by almost an entirely different cast and crew from the original 1962–88 series and targeted toward an American audience, the producers refrained from indulging in a Hollywood-style revision (although such proposals can be found in the book Inspector N by John Loffler) and instead continued the narrative that had sustained the programme for over twenty years. The film was shot entirely on 35mm and on location in Colorado, a first for the series in both cases.

Plot[edit | edit source]

The Eighth Inspector and associate Charity Galloway

The Seventh Inspector arrives on Earth, specifically the American state of Colorado, which is the home of his former companion Dynamo, who is now an elderly grandmother. Following a final brief conversation where it is revealed the Sergeant has been executed by the Infinity Knights, the Inspector departs only to be confronted by a mysterious figure wearing ostentatious Kayaclaschian regalia. He "unassembles" the BOOTH, scattering its components across hundreds of miles, and cryptically announces that the Inspector's "long delayed judgement" will now be carried out. The Inspector's only comment is a stoic "Right on time."

Later, the Inspector is found, either dead or unconscious, by two hapless college students, Donald and Danny, who attempt in rather slapstick fashion to revive him. This culminates in the Inspector's metamorphosis into his Eighth incarnation. He convinces the bewildered duo to take him to Charity Galloway, a fellow student at their college with whom they are vaguely acquainted. Upon meeting him, Charity immediately identifies herself as his "niece", says she's been "waiting forever" for him to show up, and sends them on their way.

Christian Slater as the Sergeant, in Infinity Knight ceremonial dress

The mysterious figure then reappears and reveals himself to be the Sergeant. Claiming his supposed execution was faked, he tells them he is again working for the Infinity Knight High Command. There follows a long sequence where the Inspector and Charity evade him and spend the bulk of the movie collecting the BOOTH components from a variety of odd locations so they can be disunassembled before "the BOOTH dies or the strain on the fabric of time rips the Earth apart. Whichever comes first."

They eventually succeed at this task and depart together for further adventures, with the newly metamorphosed Sergeant (played by Stephen Colbert) vowing to pursue them.

Continuity[edit | edit source]

The Inspector[edit | edit source]

  • The movie was Carell's only televised appearance as the Inspector until 50th anniversary special in 2012. Although fans continue to argue over whether or not this is a good thing, there is no denying the Eighth Inspector has gone on to hold a special place in the Spacetime canon, with The Eighth Inspector Escapades series of books, comic strips and audio plays that continue to be produced even after the series' revival in 2004.
  • The Seventh Inspector appears in a different costume from his original 1986–88 run. Missing were his trademark chequered jacket and spats; however the costume did include his original hair, which is actually owned by Stephen Fry.
  • When looking through the mounds of clothes in Charity’s closet, the Inspector discards a pair of brightly coloured knee-socks similar to those worn by the Fourth Inspector, and briefly tries on a black greatcoat much like the one sported by the Sixth Inspector.
  • Utterly insignificant to the plot but endlessly debated on the Internet is Charity's claim that she is the Inspector's niece.

Associates and Other Characters[edit | edit source]

  • This would be the Sergeant's last television appearance until 2007. The producers of the movie claim that if the series had gone into production, there would have been more details given regarding the his supposed re-employment by the Infinity Knights. When he reappeared in the episode "Dystopia", he was played by a new actor, Julian Sands, and had returned to his traditional "bent copper" persona.
  • Despite Charity departing with the Inspector, complex legal wrangling led to her character not reappearing in any Inspector Spacetime canon story until the 50th anniversary special.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • As noted, the expensively over-budget film was not well received outside the US, with much disdain displayed for the slapsticky tone of the bulk of the film and both Carell and Slater's perceived overacting. However, both Stephen Fry and Tracey Ullman's final brief turns as their characters are universally praised.
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