Sunday, November 19, 2006

XXXIII. DOOMWATCH (CLASSIC FORGOTTEN T.V) 1970 - 1972 - SECOND SERIES


As mentioned the ending of season one ended with a bang and it was the aftermath that formed the plot of the first story of season 2. Quist is wracked with guilt and cannot come to terms with Wrens death. Ridge taunts him about the disaster and holds him entirely responsible, paving the way for some excellent drama between the two main leads.

‘You Killed Toby Wren’ was a superb opening story that highlighted the intricate and complex dynamics involving the Doomwatch team personally, without over saturating the plot. Also introduced is the new ‘Wren’ substitute- Geoff Hardcastle. Fresh faced graduating scientist, Hardcastle, stumbles across some sick genetic engineering and with the assistance of his colleagues begins to delve deeper.

Thus the very first story got underway of Doomwatchs’ second outing. Although some of the stories this time around are undoubtedly ingenious I noticed overall they steer away from being too prophetic, which is a shame as this worked so well in the first season.

Fortunately in the second series of Doomwatch the transition from the 'old' to the 'new' and involvement of fresh ‘leads’ is a subtle one. The secretary changes as bubbly blonde Pat Hunnisett leaves and is replaced by the raven haired Barbara Mason. Vivian Sherrard really brings Barbara into her own, not just regulated to serving coffee in a crimpalene mini dress she begins also to help out in some of the cases.

Geoff Hardcastle is another change but due to this character being a bit bland he kind of fades into it all a bit. He simply doesn’t have the charisma of Powell but despite this short change is convincing in his participation at the very least.

The other noticeable addition was a female ‘equal’ to Quist and Ridge in the form of Dr.Fay Chantry. It is alleged that Chantry was brought into the mix in order that women were profiled more ostensibly in the series. Although her performance was good enough there still seemed a ‘hold back’ for the character as though she wasn’t permitted to ‘dominate’ over her male counterparts. BBC politics, scriptwriting, sign of the times, I am not sure and don’t really care as it doesn’t deter from the programmes polished standard.

Another ‘semi-regular’ was Dr. Anne Tarrant played by the erudite Elizabeth Weaver. Tarrant is bought in to sort Quists' head out for him after the Wren tragedy and appears now and again; until she and Quist gets’ hitched in season 3 and eventually becomes a permanent fixture. Tarrant specialises in Psychology and things neurological which gives the script writers to develop some tales of psychological ‘smog’ as well as the pollution that is there in front of our eyes.

As the original series, Doomwatch season 2 wasn’t afraid of tackling grim issues or taking on unscrupulous immoral fat cats of industry. The stories were on occasion decidedly weaker than first time around but still suitably made a point and never failed to deliver on poignancy either.

The series did not end on such a spectacular note as the first but doesn’t lose none of it’s power thanks to John Paul’s’ stunning performance at the end of season two’s ‘Public Enemy’ episode. The way in which the direction compliments the forthcoming speech orated by Quist is spot-on. The season ends with a message from the Doomwatch team lectured to the attendees at a village hall and then finally as Quist looks into the camera – to us.

What is noteworthy is that season 2 has been left unscathed by the merciless wiping policy of the BBC at the time.

These nostalgic nuggets of a ‘green’ first were broadcast on UKGold in the mid nineties – when the station was good! That was the last time it graced our screens sadly.

DOOMWATCH

Broadcast : 14th December 1970 to 22nd March 1971

Mission Brief

Any Good?

Archive?

Season Two





You Killed Toby Wren by Terence Dudley

14th December, 1970 @9.50pm - 10.40pm

Genetic Engineering/ Hybrid Experimentation.

Tip-Top performances by all involved. A nasty twist and intelligent writing. 10/10

Yes (recently repeated on UK Gold in 1995 when the channel was good)

Invasion by Martin Worth

21st December, 1970 @9.50pm - 10.40pm

Bacterial Weapons and Water Supply Contamination via Chemicals.

Brilliant. The scenes of bio-hazard suited men wandering the house are most chilling. 10/10

Yes (recently repeated on UK Gold in 1995 when the channel was good)

The Islanders by Louis Marks

4th January, 1971 @ 9.20pm - 10.10pm

Immigration, Evacuation and the Human Condition. Earthquake.

Decent episode seeing immigrant vulnerability from all sides.7/10

Yes (recently repeated on UK Gold in 1995 when the channel was good)

No Room for Error by Roger Parkes

11th January, 1971 @ 9.20pm - 10.10pm

Wonder Drugs and the Dangers.

Good thought provoking tale. Drags slightly.6/10

Yes (recently repeated on UK Gold in 1995 when the channel was good)

By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Robin Chapman

18th January, 1971 @ 9.20pm - 10.10pm

Extra ‘Y’ Chromosome and Violent Behaviour

Excellent stuff that really makes you think. Some pretty gruesome ‘pranks’ and a fine performance by the young male lead. 8/10

Yes (recently repeated on UK Gold in 1995 when the channel was good)

The Iron Doctor by Brian Hayles

25th January, 1971 @ 9.20pm - 10.10pm

Euthanasia by Computer Decision and Redundancy of the Human Race.

Outstanding and nightmarish vision of potential things to come. 9/10

Yes (recently repeated on UK Gold in 1995 when the channel was good). Also guest-starred Patrick Troughton

Flight into Yesterday by Martin Worth

1st February, 1971 @ 9.20pm - 10.10pm

Devastating Effects of Jet Lag and the Dangerous Side Effects of Time Distortion

Brilliant. A little far fetched but pertinent to everyone. Superb script and groovy ‘lounge’ music too. 10/10

Yes (recently repeated on UK Gold in 1995 when the channel was good)

The Web of Fear by Gerry Davis

8th February, 1971 @ 9.20pm - 10.10pm

Yellow Fever and Deadly Spiders in the Scilly Isles.

Outstanding adventure from Davis. Does not fail on any of the Doomwatch trademarks we have come to know and love.9/10

Yes (recently repeated on UK Gold in 1995 when the channel was good)

In the Dark by John Gould

15th February, 1971 @ 9.20pm - 10.10pm

Mustard Gas and Ethics Regarding Artificial Life Support.

Haunting piece of drama, still relevant and could still touch on a few raw nerves. 7/10

Yes (recently repeated on UK Gold in 1995 when the channel was good)

The Human Time Bomb by Louis Marks

22nd February, 1971 @ 9.20pm - 10.10pm

Urban Neurosis. Mental and Psychological Breakdown Caused By Urbanisation.

More relevant now than at the time this was first shown. Food for thought in our violent/stressed society. Super performance by Jean Trend. 10/10

Yes (recently repeated on UK Gold in 1995 when the channel was good)

The Inquest by Robert Holmes

1st March, 1971 @ 9.20pm - 10.10pm

Rabies Alert! All Dogs and Cats to be Destroyed in a 10 mile Radius.

Excellent drama and an opportunity for Joby Blanshard to shine. Bit talky but engrossing. 7/10

Yes (recently repeated on UK Gold in 1995 when the channel was good)

The Logicians by Dennis Spooner

15th March, 1971 @ 9.20pm - 10.10pm

Technological Brainwashing. Computers that Teach Criminal Superiority to the Young.

Scary stuff, well paced and plotted. Does flag a bit. 6/10

Yes (recently repeated on UK Gold in 1995 when the channel was good)

Public Enemy by Patrick Alexander

22nd March, 1971 @ 9.20pm - 10.10pm

Industrial/Governmental Cover Up. Toxic Gasses and Pollution and its Effects on the Community.

Decent story featuring a young Trevor Bannister. Story a little weak saved by a wonderfully apocalyptic Doomwatch ending speech.

Yes (recently repeated on UK Gold in 1995 when the channel was good).

This saw the bow out of Dr.Fay Chantry and Geoff Hardcastle.

Regular/Semi-Regular Characters of Season 2;

John Paul (Doctor Spencer Quist), Simon Oates (Doctor John Ridge), John Nolan (Geoff Hardcastle), Joby Blanshard (Colin Bradley), Vivian Sherrard (Barbara Mason), John Barron (Minister), Elizabeth Weaver (Doctor Anne Tarrant).

Producer; Terence Dudley

In our final segment we look at Season 3 of Doomwatch. Arguably the weakest of the three and the most hit when it came to junking.

At the end of Season 2 Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis bowed out and it was left to producer Terence Dudley to carry the torch for the environment ………

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