If the BBC realised how beloved their old shows would become, they might have taken greater care of them. And while Doomwatch: Series 1-3 – The Remaining Episodes may not feature every episode of the show thanks to the BBC’s archiving issues, it still stands up as a very good boxset. For fans of the show, the fact that it now includes unaired episode Sex and Violence may be the best news yet…
Doomwatch is the nickname for the Department of Measurement of Scientific work. A team headed by the Nobel Prize winning physicist Dr. Spencer Quist (John Paul). Their job is to keep the government and private sector research companies in check and protect the environment from pollution and disasters.
While there is a definite feel of old school Doctor Who show quality about Doomwatch (both feature low-budget set designs and special effects) the quality of this particular show comes from the stories and issues that the series covered. Unlike many science fiction shows Doomwatch focused on a certain level of reality, while touching on the borders of the fantastical – making this sci-fi show be relatable to the real world, adding to the doom-laden feel, brining a certain foreboding to what was shown.
With the likes of “super rats”, disease outbreaks, and the dangers of science when abused, it managed to keep people in the 70s on the edge of their seats. While it may have aged now, it is impressive that we’ve seen some of the horrible things the horror stories come to fruition that shows how evil the human race can be to nature, and in many ways Dooomwatch prophesised what was to come. This shows the focus the creators of the show had, on believable scientific disasters, really paid off in keeping the show from aging badly.
These creators, Gerry Davis and Kit Peddler, had connections to Doctor Who, in creating the Cybermen as well as working on the scripts. This connection shows in Doomwatch in the best possible ways. For fans of The Doctor, the audience feels at home straight away in the style and while we don’t see aliens or time travel in this series, it wouldn’t be that much of a leap to actually see the time traveller appear in the show.
One of the things that will catch the interest of fans of the show is the fact that Doomwatch: Series 1-3 – The Remaining Episodes includes the unseen episode, Sex and Violence – which is an interesting episode, not only for fans but also for those who remember the likes of Mary Whitehouse and her cronies. June Brown (Eastender’s Dot Cotton) Mrs. Catchpole is obviously based on Whitehouse, and this may be one of the reasons the show never aired. It is doubtful that the BBC would want to be seen as poking fun of the infamous Whitehouse.
The fact that Sex and Violence was not originally shown though is somewhat of a tragedy for the show. In my opinion it is one of the better episodes, as it examines the nature of why people get outraged about things such as pornography and why they feel that things need to be censored. It also raises questions as to the motives of the people behind it. If there is one episode you watch from this set, make sure it is that one. Hidden away for too long, it is an episode that shows Doomwatch off at its best.
With good performances from the likes of Robert Powell, John Paul, and Vivien Sherrard, Doomwatch: Series 1-3 – The Remaining Episodes is a must have for fans of classic British science fiction television. It would have been nice to see a complete set but that won’t come until all the episodes have been found. What we have in this seven disc DVD set though are an example of a slice of nostalgia that actually stands up well today.
Doomwatch: Series 1-3 – The Remaining Episodes is available on DVD in the UK now.