Good morning, Ria! She rises, dresses, makes breakfast for Jack, tends to the housework then makes dinner, wife, housemaid and lover, the perfect woman who maintains a strict routine whatever minor variations may arise although there is strictly no touching until after the nine o’clock watershed. America’s sweetheart, desired by many, she can only be attained by the lucky few.
Controlled from afar, the winners of A Day with Ria arrive overnight as her handlers wipe her active memory, a procession of anonymous faces who play the part of “Jack,” broadcast to the voyeuristic masses as they go through the motions of playing house while viewers vote on lipstick shades between product placement opportunities.
Written and directed by Richard Colton, Override credits a further three individuals for their contributions to the “original idea,” three parallel linked strands of Ria in her picture-perfect home of pastel walls and kitsch knick-knacks which conceal cameras, the operations centre from which her actions are controlled, monitored and broadcast, and the office of the Vice President of the United States of America whose estranged son is the latest “Jack.”
Played by Jess Impiazzi, Ria is a puppet, a robot without consciousness, agency or autonomy, improbably operated by Sinitta as cyberneticist Doctor Tonya Smithe, blissfully unaware that “mainframe” is pronounced as one word, while Charlie Clapham is the infiltrator sent to disrupt production, interrupting the live feed yet unaware he is a puppet himself, manipulated into a very public revelation of what the vice president would prefer remain hidden.
The repeating patterns grating like shopping mall muzak, Override presents the banal lowest common denominator appeal of reality television rather than satirising it as Max Headroom did, set in the year 2040 without the budget or imagination to create a world any different from the modern day save for the presence of androids yet paying only lip service to their existence, a frustrating lack of ambition to contribute to the conversation on artificial intelligence and robotics once led by Battlestar Galactica and Westworld.
The twists of the plot announced rather than revealed, Override is as sharp as a frying pan and entirely superficial, the cast a mélange of accents headlined by Luke Goss as the first and most sympathetic “Jack,” one of the few to treat Ria respectfully, and Dean Cain as Vice President Flemming, ineptly attempting to wrest control from the pantomime caricatures of the producer and director, the shallow dialogue failing to convey any subtext which might have made the premise more relevant.
Override is released on DVD and digital platforms on Monday 6th September