Net gains
I'm probably going to regret having said this, but I quite enjoyed Channel Four's "cyberthriller" Killer Net, which ended last week. However, I was forced into a major piece of disbelief suspension. As an analysis of the real dangers lurking in the cloistered bowels of the Internet (which is how it was plugged), it was terrible.

The trap that its creator Lynda La Plante fell into (aside from borrowing whole chunks of Shallow Grave's plot) was to confuse fears about the Internet with unease about new technology in general. The thing to remember about the Internet is that it's merely an inert amalgam of processors and connections. Everything that's on it is there because people have put it there.

Killer Net has had a pretty poor reaction amongst Internet users. You can find the best of these responses at Special Projects' website, which gives a hilarious scene- by-scene deconstruction of the series.

My main criticism is that for much of the series, the Internet was rather peripheral to the plot. Killer Net was really a rant about the dangers of computer games. Scott and Charlie may have met in a chatroom but it could just as easily have been through a lonely hearts column. In the same way, Scott bought the game Killer Net over the Internet but it could just as easily have been bought from the small ads in the back of the local paper.

As for the rest of the plot, it merely churned out the usual ill-informed nonsense: Scott's brother shows him some pornography he's downloaded, safe in the knowledge that dad won't find out because he doesn't know how to use the computer. Later on, in the police station, one of the officers looks at the interactive pornography site, and then puts on his coat to go home, only pausing to say: "I'm going to check my kids aren't into this."

La Plante clearly did enough research to get the jargon off pat. (Although Scott's computer appeared to be able to erase bits of a CD-Rom. Didn't La Plante bother to find out what "Rom" stands for?) But why on earth did she have to be so reactionary in order to to make her "point"?

In the end, it's pretty odd to dream up something as perverse as the game Killer Net, replete with lashings of voyeuristic violence (far worse stuff than I've ever seen online) and then blame it all on the Internet. And of course, the bad guy turned out to be a weird, loner computer nerd. I'd urge people to flame Lynda la Plante. But she probably doesn't have an email address.

Channel Four's drama website

Hilarious scene-by-scene deconstruction