"Welcome to Killer Net."

Step into the Wayback Machine all the way to, erm, 1997. The first year of New Labour. The year when no less that three computer games were derided in national newspapers (specifically, the Daily Mail) as "sick filth" and of which two were in danger of having a certificate refused by the BBFC (Postal, Carmageddon and Grand Theft Auto.) A year in which DVDs were making their first tentative steps into the public arena and a 300MHz Pentium II was considered a hot processor. That was the year in which Lynda La Plante penned the Channel 4 serial named Killer Net, a crime thriller about student bums, pr0n, murder, and the Internet. It flopped. Which was a great, great, great, pity, all things considered. Must have been something to do with the constant scaremongering about how evil the Internet and video games were.

!!! Warning - Spoilers Ahead !!!

Now, the premise of Killer Net was that Scott Miller, who, possibly intentionally, was named after the head at the time of the game company Apogee, a psychology student at the University of Brighton, and his housemates Joe Hunter, a law student, and Susie Selby, a part time nurse, meet a mysterious, tough, and sexy woman named Charlotte Thorpe. She charms Scott, and gets him involved (Heaven alone knows how!) in the seamy world of XXX pr0n. As well as shagging him silly, that is. Anyhow, one evening, having seen this Charlie with a local DJ, he seeks solace in a pay-per-view live porno feed, the rather, erm, corpulent, "Sexy Sadie", who sends him a game on CD-ROM (for £120 as well, so it must be hot!) This is the game of the title, Killer Net.

So, in the game, a sinister, bald man guides Scott through the four stages of the premeditated lust murder - selecting and stalking the victim, doing the deed, disposing of the body, and then surviving the subsequent police enquiry. The game obsesses him, keeping him awake until the small hours of the morning and prompting his room-mates to think he's taking heroin. Eventually, though, he enlists their help to solve the game - unlocking Libra, a special feature by which one can insert one's own victims into the game... And, while drunk and writhing in self-pity at his abandonment by Charlie, Scott inserts her into the game.

Needless to say, while walking the dog, a young father in the town discovers Charlotte's dead, mutilated body in exactly the same place as Tracy, the victim from Killer Net was dumped in the game. Suddenly, Scott finds himself in a very real game of Killer Net - where the victims, police, and culprits are all too real.

"You are about to plan and execute the perfect murder."

A few words might be worth mentioning here about how one would go about the perfect murder. In the serial, Scott drafts Joe and Susie in to help with the game - one being a law student, so he could help avoid the attentions of Her Majesty's constabulary, and the other being a medical student and part-time nurse, so she could help with the details like body disposal and where to strike. It turns out that there is actually quite a lot of difficulties in this. After all, a wiser man than either I, or Scott Miller, said that "When you commit a murder you make 25 mistakes; get that down to ten, and you're a genius." Disposing of the evidence is without a shadow of a doubt the hardest part; see John George Haigh if you don't believe me; there's a LOT of stuff to consider. Let us just say that the method used in Killer Net is probably the closest you can possible get in my opinion.

"If you succeed, you may walk free. If you fail, you will be... terminated."

The first I heard of Killer Net was an interview with the writer, Lynda La Plante, in PC Format, the contents of which I have entirely forgotten, and a few TV spots. Unfortunately I was a a mere 13 years old when it was first broadcast, and there was no way my overprotective mother would have let me watch anything after the watershed. But looking back, it does look extremely... well, 1997. And from a technical point of view, it's not particularly accurate. Especially when Charlie says that, to install a higher-end video card, she had to get "inside the processor". Also, I cannot possibly believe that any computer in 1998 would not have had a sound card... not to mention that the modem with which Scott connects to the Internet with looks like a 14.4, of all things. How in the blue fuck did he manage to get such high quality live feeds from Sexy Sadie out in Nevada on that thing, I wondered.

However, aside from all that, Killer Net is a particularly well recommended crime serial, true to life about the student bums it portrays (being one, I should know!), well acted (Paul Bettany, who plays Joe Hunter, later went on to star in Wimbledon and Master and Commander) with Tam Williams as Scott (of whom I have never heard before, but he was pretty damn good) and sometimes quite hilarious. Even if at times it's factually dodgy or comes off sounding like a diatribe against the Internet. Because it isn't at all. It's much deeper than that.

So, then...

"Are you ready to play?"

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