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THE INDEPENDENT 8th December 1999

A classic Newspaper review of the DOOMWATCH 1999 TV Movie.

ROBERT HANKS
TELEVISION REVIEW


???? Haven't on the whole gone terribly well out film and television you'd think that for every ?? boffin who's out there discovering a cure for cancer or your plain old pushing back the bounds of human knowledge there are three more crackpots plotting world domination or even the apocalypse.
Doomwatch (C5), a one off sequel to the BBC's pioneering Seventies eco drama of the same name revived a miscellany of stereotypes. Trevor Eve played Neil Tannahill, a brilliant but troubled astrophysicist who, on the eve of his departure for a lucrative job in the US, was side-tracked by his equally brilliant but faintly batty old teacher, Spencer Quist (Philip Stone).
Together with the brilliant but emotionally disengaged computer whiz Hugo Cox (Dallas Campbell), they began investigating the activities of the slightly less brilliant colleague Toby Ross (Miles Anderson) who seemed to be up to something with a shady multi national corporation.
This turned out to be the creation of the world's first man-made black hole, as  a handy means of disposing of nuclear waste. Unfortunately, as tends to happen with scientists, he did not comprehend the magnitude of the forces with which he was ????? thing in sight, emitting all manner of radiation and generally threatening to destroy the world.
Channel 5 is developming something of a ??? scientific paranoia. Last month saw The Alchemists and here the black hole was characterised as "The philosopher's stone, the ultimate alchemists dream. There were entertain???  spotted "Whatever ??? nothing to do with black holes, the inevitability ??? of precisely to do with the black holes settled over the drama like a fog.
It also had a risible hole in scientific jargon such as "Alpha gamma twelve sixteen" or when Quist explains Carbon. One atom of carbon bombarded and squashed by four or perhaps ?? of the most powerful lasers in the world until it disappears up its own backside. That's enough to make a black hole."Over-simplification" tutted Eve, and how heartily we all agreed.
Attempts at more earthy imagery also came a cropper - the black hole was a fairly swift succession smaller than a man's testicle and a very hungry animal. But Doomwatch was better thought out and in an odd, hyperbolic way more plausible than The Alchemists. The nonsense was executed with a good deal of style, so that the cliches felt more like old friends than party bores. And the idea of scientists playing God was dramatised with some flair in the person of Cox - controlling computers with the help of "angels" (computer generated characters with fluffy wings), he was able to hack into phone lines and surveillance cameras, lending him a patina of omniscience.
As a ???? givable but as semi-coherent real-world sci-fi it was surprisingly enjoyable. The acting was fine, the special effects decent and the incidental music, Bach laid on with a trowel, gave it just the right edge of portentousness.
Channel 5 producing enjoyable feature-length dramas? Surely the end of the world is at hand.

With thanks to Andrew Wilson and Scott Burditt who had a decent crack of reading this one.