Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Quatermass II- Episode 1: The Bolts

"Things were better when there was less government about!"

The second series of this famously pub-emptying and pioneering piece of television starts out as superbly as the first, although John Robinson, who does a good job in the circumstances, has clearly been parachuted into the part of Quatermass at the last moment. This tale of hollow alien meteorites being sent from above with nefarious purposes has been deeply influential (as we Doctor Who fans well know). Yet it obviously comes from another age, when scientists were treated with deference and the power of the benevolent State is questioned only by silly old men. Even a science fiction conspiracy theory thriller like this, in 1955, can casually have all of its heroes be public sector employees.

The early scenes with the soldiers would have had an extra resonance, too, in the days of National Service. And the flourishing and ambitious British space programme- prior to the awful disaster- reflects a very pre-Suez view of national importance.

It's a slow-paced start, full of unease and subtexts everywhere. The opening titles are, again, inspired and forward-looking. This is brilliant, first class telly.

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