British TV watched recently (and one American series)

THE CORRIDOR PEOPLE  (I think the title is meant in the sense of the corridors of power, but I wouldn’t bet money on it) lasted four episodes in 1966, but they’re certainly memorable episodes. The players include Kronk (John Sharp), a ruthless British security official; international criminal Syrie van Epp (Elizabeth Shepherd); Scrotty (Gary Cockrell), a PI who plays for both sides; and Kronk’s aides Blood and Hound (Alan Curtis, William Maxwell).

The four stories involve Syrie seeking control of a new drug; an elaborate scheme to cover up financial fraud; an amnesiac caught up in a communist scheme; and a European prince obsessed with marrying a black woman he saw dancing at a disco. The plots are less important than the show’s strange style and peculiar characters; in “Victim as Whitebait,” one man defends equipping a female assassin with blanks on the grounds “The gun is a phallic symbol — the phallic symbol!” and women shouldn’t be allowed to wield it (today the dude would be making the case on some incel website). In the same episode, Syrie has a Swedish filmmaker tagging along to make an art movie about her crimes. It’s all entertaining, though the racial elements of “Victim as Black” have not aged well. “Seven accountants tried analyzing the finances — four had nervous breakdowns, two quit, one became a Trappist monk.”

THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT (1953) was the first in the series of BBC miniseries that culminated in Quatermass and the Pit. Reginald Tate is Quatermass, a literal rocket scientist overseeing the first manned flight into space (you can hear the incredulity when he realizes the ship has reached halfway to the moon, an astonishing feat in the pre-Sputnik days). When the capsule crashes down in a London residential street, only one astronaut is inside … with memories of the two missing astronauts and traces of their fingerprints mixed with his own. Before long it’s clear he’s been infested with Something out in space and it’s about to spread and give off spores…  This was very well done, but unfortunately four of the episodes are lost and had to be recreated by a screen crawl mixed with still photos. “Thirty years ago I almost dedicated myself to land surveying in the tropics.”

The BBC attempted a live remake in 2005, trimmed down to a 90 minute QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT TV-movie with Jason Flemyng as Quatermass and David Tennant among his team. Despite chopping the running time in half, this one actually felt much talkier; little changes like having the satellite crash in the woods instead of in town didn’t help. “I have brought upon this Earth what is possibly the most terrible thing ever known.”

I found INVINCIBLE (2021) marginally better than the comic book, but not by much. While it speeds up the Big Reveal (which I won’t mention here) the story of Omni-Man’s (a Superman analog) son Mark discovering he’s inherited dad’s powers and ecoming a superhero still bores me: it’s stock teen angst (oh no, he has to break a date because he has a mission) with little to freshen it up. As I was only watching this for Alien Visitors I skipped a couple of episodes and didn’t miss anything important for my purposes. “We wanted to find out what Omni-Man is after and how to stop him getting it. We failed on both counts.”

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One response to “British TV watched recently (and one American series)

  1. Pingback: And you thought the worst part of the alien invasions was anal probes! | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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