Doomwatch

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Review by David Paul Hellings

@HellingsOnFilms

“Groundbreaking classic British sci-fi series Doomwatch originally aired on the BBC from 1970 – 1972 and at its peek, attracted in excess of 13.6 million viewers and spawned two film adaptations. Although in huge demand, it has never before been available on DVD, until now… Thanks to Simply Media Doomwatch Series 1-3 makes its long awaited DVD debut.

Not all of the episodes made it but the ones that still exist come to DVD as Doomwatch Series 1-3 The Remaining Episodes on 4 April 2016. The available episodes will be released in a stunning seven-disc box set, together with unseen episode ‘Sex and Violence’ and the BBC documentary ‘The Cult of Doomwatch’.

The cult series is the brainchild of Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis, the men responsible for Doctor Who’s iconic Cybermen, and follows government agency The Department of Measurement of Scientific Work AKA Doomwatch, as they fight to protect mankind from all manner of horrifying technology and experiments gone wrong.

The team lead by Dr. Spencer Quist (John Paul – A Countess from Hong Kong), alongside Colin Bradley (Joby Blanshard – The Brothers), Toby Wren (Robert Powell – Jesus of Nazareth, The Detectives), and Dr. Fay Chantry (Jean Trend – Z Cars), must battle hyper intelligent rats, toxic waste, plastic eating bacteria, mind destroying sound waves and genetic mutations from day to day – all the while confronted with volatile corporations, their own unsupportive government superiors and ever changing dynamics within the team.

Set in a time of public fascination with the perils of science and technology, Doomwatch offers a glimpse of real scientific concepts, that are still relevant today and explores the moral dilemmas faced by those left to pick up the pieces when things inevitably go wrong.

A must for any discerning sci-fi and classic TV fan”.

  • Via Simply Media.

 

Review:

At a time when the British ITV network was releasing glossy sci fi and adventure series, both live action and animation, by way of cult classics such as “The Avengers”, “The Prisoner”, “Captain Scarlet”, “UFO”, and many others that looked like they were exotic and high budget, the BBC’s “Doomwatch”, looking like the often interior shot theatrical piece that it actually was, dealt with issues that would create more paranoia and fear in government and among the public than any of its noisy commercial neigbours on the other channel.

“Doomwatch”, created by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis, dealt with storylines that have all come to fruition in the real world by way of failed genetic experiments, viruses on the loose, deadly rodents, modified food stuffs, and a whole host of other man-made mistakes from the laboratory. That both Pedlar and Davis foresaw the potential problems of unregulated and/or questionably regulated scientific research and experimentation was very much a sign of the times with the rise of green politics and the anti-nuclear brigade. “Doomwatch” reflected the reality and the areas for concern that are still with us almost fifty years later. So much for progress.

“Doomwatch” may not have had the budgets and gloss of other series at the time, but the quality and cynical content of the scripts as well as the charismatic cast shows why it has retained such a cult following. Watch it today and try not to be drawn in to the issues dealt with in each episode, reminding yourself that the premises put forward turned out to be often tragically real. The series’ strength comes from the fact that it was made at a point where, post Moon landing, science was still in its public infancy and already seen as a potential threat to be abused by political forces.

The office politics with its gender inequality has dated, but the zeitgeist of the issues and the problems the world faces remains as contemporary today as it did when “Doomwatch” was released in 1970. One remaining horror is that it was one of the series that the BBC wiped the master tapes of so that they could record over them. The BBC’s attitudes towards creativity clearly the same in some departments then as it is now! Fortunately most of “Doomwatch” remains and is collected here for fans to enjoy once more. A welcome return for a much-loved series.

 

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This review originally appeared on SFFWorld at:

http://www.sffworld.com/2016/04/doomwatch/

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