On a less pretentious level, Doomwatch (BBC-1) is perhaps more relevant and certainly more enjoyable. The aggressive Doctor Quist and his rather trendy staff act as scientific ombudsmen whose job is to avert disasters brought about by glory seeking politicians in alliance with irresponsible boffins.
Each week we almost have our lot: leaking nerve gas, man-eating rats, desert creating viruses and in 50 minutes flat the scourge of Whitehall has located the danger and bulldozed whatever vested interest lies in his path so that we may go to bed unconscious safety. Enjoyable, escapist stuff, although I hope that we don't get to believe that Quist really stands between us and those Faustian technologists.
My only quarrel with the tone of the thing is its extreme anti-feminism. There's a loyal little secretary who knows her chirpy place, but every week I've seen it a glamorous woman scientist of some kind lets the side down through her femininity. The nympho researcher was careless with her rats; the soil biologist had a lover who was being blackmailed by a foreign power. And it's no good saying it's just a device to work in a different sexpot: the women are shown to be weak because they are women.
This apart, it's all good clean fun, although I do wish they'd do without that weekly horror shot. There was no need to show the nympho after the rats had got at her, nor the soil biologist's lover after he'd been dragged behind a car. Reaction shots are just as effective, and less stomach-churning, but one nasty image per programme seems to be a growing habit. 'The Year of the Sex Olympics' had an axe shattered head in it too. It seems to me that sexual voyeurism is far less damaging.
Original article by George Melly. With thanks to Michael Seely