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DOOMWATCH REVIEWS by Grant Foxon

THE PLASTIC EATERS
Reviewed by Grant Foxon August 2009

And so begins the very first episode of a TV classic. The first sequence with the plane crash is particularly chilling and pulls in the viewer immediately. Ok, so the CSO (like many Jon Pertwee Who adventures) dates the sequence but the overall concept is just as chilling as when it originally aired.

The characters are great. Dr Quist the haunted leader of the newly founded organisation Doomwatch (Department for the Observation and Measurement of Scientific Work) is haunted because of his involvement in the Manhattan Project, hated by the Government and considered a nuisance. Played with real persuasion by John Paul.

Next we have Dr Ridge, easily irritated and both admiring and unliking his boss Quist. Ridge however is not obsessed like Quist and does have a particular eye for the ladies. He also seems to enjoy the espionage role he has in this episode where he sneaks into the laboratory to investigate the Plastic virus.

Last but not least we have the ill-fated Toby Wren, (but that’s another story). A young new recruit something of a shy character in awe of Quist and desperate to prove himself. He has a sharp mind and displays genuine heroism on the plane. A special mention must also go to John Barron as Sir George Holroyd, the thorn in Quist’s side.

The story itself is a true classic and a very fine first episode. Solid performances and a real sense of hypocrisy from the government. It’s hard to imagine the creation of The X Files if it wasn’t for Doomwatch. Genuinely chilling and a very real threat, this story is light years ahead of its contemporaries.

The story hasn’t dated especially, apart from the opening scene. The scenes on the plane where it begins to melt are wonderful and still send a shiver down the spine.

Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis honestly believe in their creation. They make no concessions for the audience. It’s hard, scary and realistic. Destined to be a classic. In 1972 Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis recycled themes from this episode for use in their novel Mutant 59: The Plastic Eater. However it features none of the original characters.

9/10 Must See!

Train and De-Train whilst on the surface has ecological issues, a new pesticide threatening to kill more than just species of insect but in fact being poisonous to man but really it’s a brilliant morality play. And an episode where Robert Powell as Toby Wren takes the foreground and really shows us all what a great character he is.
Like with the later series 2 opener You Killed Toby Wren this story’s ecological threat is the sub plot the real issue here is what happens to us when our bosses no longer deem us fit, and thus replace us. This has become an increasing threat we all face in society. A common place in a capitalist society that promotes dog eat dog and back stabbing. How many managers do we come across which are not anal and back stabbing soulless creatures? But I digress. The acting is first rate with a great performance from Robert Powell and George Baker as the guest villain of the piece. The empty hollow manager who obeys his orders and revels in the discomfort of those he punishes. Not your typical Doomwatch tale but fantastic none the less. In terms of characterisation a real gem of the first series. With Toby Wren very much in the foreground.
Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Grant Foxon Added 17th September 2009

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