The one hundred and fourty-eighth TV show: #15 The Quatermass Experiment

Can you fairly judge a six part serial on only the first two episodes? I've certainly made snap judgements on other shows, but it feels difficult here, in part because I did enjoy it. Due to its age, only the first two episodes of remain - not because the recordings of the other four episodes were lost, but because recording it turned out to be so difficult that they decided not to bother for the others. It's hard to imagine now, but they would have had actors come in to the play again - live, as happened here.

The issue that arises here is one that I've also noticed in old Doctor Who serials, and others with that set up: while the first episode is interesting in the way it sets up a story, the middle episodes can feel like they're spinning their wheels until the final episode or two resolve what's going on. The skill is on dividing it well enough that it keeps being interesting, with stuff moving in and out, at which point the episodes in the middle feel like they are important in keeping things moving. With the conclusion missing, the second episode looks a bit worse as it's a lot of exposition and waiting around, a bit of a let down after the dynamic parts of the first episode. There's still some sitting around in labs, but there's some quite exciting crowd scenes that feel like they're more impressive live.

The fact that these were live - per the way the BBC worked at the time - adds to how impressive and interesting it is. There are some sound issues, where the performers aren't that clear, but on the whole it works out. Sure, they have theatre experience, but having to deal with more sets and cameras makes this even more interesting since, unlike later serials in the Quatermass series, it sounds like nothing was prerecorded and there's no room for mistakes.

I would have loved to have seen the entire serial, as the way this abruptly ends makes it a bit more awkward. Even more important, it sounds like this was incredibly influential in one of my favourite genres, I do plan on watching the other serials so I can experience those and hopefully see how the full arc works out and I hope that will keep paying off.