Quatermass occupies a unique position in British TV history
- he is the undoubted godfather of serious, adult science
fiction. Launched into the world of live television in 1953,
the head of the British Rocket Group encountered a creeping
alien intelligence that took over the body of an astronaut
(The Quatermass Experiment), an alien invader using
a chemical plant to manufacture its food while taking over
the minds of politicians (Quatermass II), and the remnants
of humanity's Martian origins (Quatermass and the Pit)...
three BBC serials have gone down in broadcasting history as
undisputed landmarks and now for the first time the trio has
been restored and released on DVD replete with a host of extras.
Sadly, only the first two parts of the Quatermass Experiment
were recorded due to the limits of the technology of its day.
In the time before videotape shows went out live (in all three
instances) and were sometimes, but not always, copied onto
film during the transmission.
both Quatermass II and Quatermass and the Pit
survive intact, although the former is a technically poor
recording - often out of focus, lacking detail and subject
to fluctuations in brightness and contrast. However, thanks
to modern digital restoration techniques even this has been
minimised. In fact, due to the quality of modern TVs, these
DVDs offer today's audience a better quality of viewing experience
than would have been available back in the 1950s. The sound
has also been dramatically improved.
Quatermass Experiment understandably looks its age although
there are moments of real drama and tension when it becomes
clear that the surviving astronaut appears to have the memories
of his missing colleagues. Quatermass II remains the
blueprint for conspiracy theories and boasts moments of genuine
shock and tension - the thing in the tank (apparently a rubber
glove in some BBC canteen soup although you'd never know).
However, it's Quatermass and the Pit that really stands
out. Its six episodes are nothing short of marvellous. A quality
casts, great script, a plentiful use of film inserts for the
more complex scenes and very passable special effects combine
to create a classic.
truth, anyone reading this review will already know plenty
about Bernard Quatermass' time at the BBC (his appearance
on ITV many years later was something altogether less desirable).
Perhaps what you won't know is just how good these 14 episodes
can look. Add some vintage interviews, a documentary and a
fascinating insight into how the special effects were achieved
and this three-disc set is nothing short of first class.
really have no choice but to buy it.
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