Classic TV

Kneale Before Nigel: Quatermass/The Quatermass Conclusion (1979)

The Quatermass Conclusion

QuatermassStarring: John Mills, Simon MacCorkindale, Barbara Kellerman
Writer: Nigel Kneale
Director: Piers Haggard
Price: Blu-ray £29.99 (Amazon price: £21.75), DVD £19.99 (Amazon price: £14.75)
Released: 27 July 2015

In the last quarter of the 20th century, the whole world seemed to sicken. Civilised institutions, whether old or new, fell… as if some primal disorder was reasserting itself. And men asked themselves, “Why should this be?”

Professor Bernard Quatermass is one of the most important characters in TV history. Created by blog god Nigel Kneale back in 1953 for the BBC, Quatermass was the hero of The Quatermass Experiment, a ground-breaking piece of adult science-fiction television, created at a time when all the US had to offer the world was Captain Video.

The Quatermass Experiment saw Quatermass, the head of the ‘British Rocket Group’, sending into space a rocket containing three astronauts, only for it to come back down again with two of them missing and the survivor strangely changed. What happened to the missing astronauts is for the coldly scientific Quatermass to find out and his investigations are set to change the way we think about ourselves.

The six-part serial was so popular that despite being broadcast at a time when very few people actually owned a TV, it was able to empty the streets. The result was not only a movie adaptation by Hammer Films, but a 1955 sequel appropriately called Quatermass II. If The Quatermass Experiment was “we go to them”, Quatermass II was “they come to us”, with Quatermass discovering that his plans for a base on the moon have already been put into practice… in England. But what’s inside these domes and how is it that no one’s noticed them until now?

The popularity of this new serial was again sufficient for both a movie adaptation and another lavish sequel, Quatermass and the Pit, to be approved, the latter being broadcast in 1958. This saw a WWII bomb discovered during building works in London. However, subsequent examination reveals that the discovery is a lot, lot older than anyone could have guessed.

“We go to them”, “They come to us” but now it turns out that they have always been here – and that we are the Martians.

However, that was the last of Quatermass for a while. Although Kneale was asked in 1965 to write a new Quatermass story for the BBC2 anthology series Out of the Unknown, he declined the offer, which meant that the first new Quatermass the 1960s got to see was a Hammer adaptation of Quatermass and the Pit in 1967.

The success of this movie prompted Hammer to ask Kneale to write a new Quatermass movie for them, but that got no further than initial negotiations, meaning Quatermass and the Pit was also the only new Quatermass story of the 1960s. But following the success of The Stone Tape in 1972, the BBC asked Kneale for a new Quatermass serial… and he agreed.

Kneale completed the script in February 1973, after which preliminary filming work began. However, for various reasons, the BBC got cold feet, and the serial was cancelled in the summer of that year.

The BBC’s rights to the serial expired in 1975, by which time Kneale was working for ITV on projects such as Murrain and Beasts. Then, in 1977, Star Wars arrived on the scene and suddenly everyone was interested in science-fiction again. In particular, Euston Films, an ITV film subsidiary, became interested – perhaps, in part, because it was overseen by blog goddess and famous Doctor Who producer Verity Lambert. And Euston wanted both a four-part TV series and a movie.

Guess what’s going to be released on Blu-Ray next week. Yes, after the jump, we’re going to be looking at the forthcoming release of Quatermass and The Quatermass Conclusion – the final adventures of Professor Bernard Quatermass (almost)

Here’s a trailer or three.

Continue reading “Kneale Before Nigel: Quatermass/The Quatermass Conclusion (1979)”

Weekly Wonder Woman

Weekly Wonder Woman: Superman/Wonder Woman #14-15, Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Three #16, Wonder Woman ’77 #2, Sensation Comics #19-21, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis

Superman/Wonder Woman

Lots to do today in the first Friday Weekly Wonder Woman, with not only this week’s new releases to deal with, but also playing catch up on the ones I missed reviewing over Christmas. All this despite there already having been a WWW this week already – it truly is a golden age, if not the actual Golden Age.

So after the jump, a look at Superman/Wonder Woman issues 14 and 15, which have some exciting revelations and returning arch enemies, another Injustice involving Diana punching Sinestro a lot, the second Wonder Woman ’77 continues the action down the disco and three whole issues of Sensation Comics look at everything from Wonder Woman’s inspiration of female soldiers through to people Instagramming her backside.

And, oh yes, there was another Justice League movie released this week in the US. Guess who’s in that, too?

Continue reading “Weekly Wonder Woman: Superman/Wonder Woman #14-15, Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Three #16, Wonder Woman ’77 #2, Sensation Comics #19-21, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis”

Classic TV

Preview: Space: 1999 – The Bringers of Wonder (Special Edition)

Space: 1999 - Bringers of Wonder

Space: 1999 - Bringers of Wonder

Starring: Barbara Bain, Martin Landau
Price: £13
Released: December 8 2014

Today is a day of firsts. Not only is it December 1st, the first day of Advent, it’s also the first time since I started this blog up way back in 2005 (gosh, nearly 10 years ago!) that I’ve published a guest post. Isn’t that amazing?

This first guest post is by noted author and critic Mr James Cooray Smith, who has bitten the bullet and done something I could never do: watch Space: 1999 again. In this case, he’s watched the forthcoming limited edition Blu-ray release of the show’s only ever two-part episode, The Bringers of Wonder, as well as the cinema version of said two-parter, Destination Moonbase Alpha get it while it’s hot, because only 1,999 copies of this are being produced.

After the jump, Jim will let you know what he thinks and reveals that the show is officially considered a form of torture in the US. Before then, here’s a trailer, and if you’re feeling brave, I’ve also provided the two episodes in question, so you can see what you’re going to get (NB: watching the episodes may be considered illegal under Geneva conventions of all kinds):

Continue reading “Preview: Space: 1999 – The Bringers of Wonder (Special Edition)”

UK TV

Review: Y Gwyll/Hinterland (DVD)

Hinterland DVD main screen

Y GwyllStarring: Richard Harrington, Mali Harries
Price: £15.15 (Amazon price)
Released: 30 June

One of the most bizarre things about this year’s airing on BBC4 of the S4C show Y Gwyll (aka Hinterland) is that it was largely in English. Every scene of each of its four episodes had been shot in both Welsh and English and a completely Welsh version of the show had aired on S4C in October/November 2013. Yet BBC4, which has been prepared to air on Saturday nights during primetime shows entirely in French, Flemish, Swedish, Danish and Italian, decided instead to air the last-minute hybrid English-Welsh version that BBC1 Wales had chosen to air in January.

Viewers who were aware of this wanted to know why and probably would have liked to have seen the fully Welsh version, at least to compare and contrast, but perhaps also because it was actually very slightly better. Now they can. Because while Arrow Films, the home of Nordic Noir DVD releases in the UK, released that hybrid version on DVD last month as Hinterland/Y Gwyll, a few weeks later, they very quietly also released the Welsh version as Y Gwyll/Hinterland, too.

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Weekly Wonder Woman

Review: Justice League – War

Justice League War

Starring: Jason O’Mara, Alan Tudyk, Justin Kirk, Michelle Monaghan, Christopher Gorham, Shemar Moore, Sean Astin, Steven Blum, Bruce Thomas, Rocky Carroll, Zach Callison, George Newbern
Price: £13.99
Released in the UK: February 4th 2014 (iTunes)

For those who don’t know, quite a sizeable number of superhero comics are produced by DC. You’ve probably heard of the likes of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and The Flash, perhaps even Cyborg and Shazam. Collectively known as the Justice League, they’re DC’s top team of superheroes.

Obviously they’ve mostly all been around for a quite few decades now (70+ years in some case) and with comics out every week with different writers, over the years, a lot of contradictory stuff and repetition sets in, so every so often DC likes to ‘reboot’ its universe and go back to the beginning, giving us new angles on characters.

The last time DC did this was a little over two and a half years ago with the so-called nu52/new 52, which effectively reset every character’s history, origins, et al. Sometimes the changes were minimal (Superman’s adoptive parents are both dead again, Batgirl is Barbara Gordon again); sometimes they were quite big (Wonder Woman got an entirely new father, the god Zeus; Barbara Gordon can now walk again).

However, outside the world of comics, things have been a bit laggardly in catching up, with films, merchandising and the like all largely using pre-nu52 imagery and ideas. So behold Justice League – War, the first of DC’s animated movies set in the nu52 mythos. Based on the first six or seven issues of the revamped Justice League comic book (more or less all of which were reviewed on this ‘ere blog when they came out), this is a nu52 origins story for the Justice League showing how the disparate superheroes (and superheroine) came together to fight the DC Universe’s ‘big bad’, Darkseid.

As well as featuring an entirely different, considerably more famous voice cast to previous animated movies, Justice League: War is more adult and better than most DC animated movies that have come before and, in fact, the original comics on which it was based.

Oh yes, and as in the nu52 itself, Superman and Wonder Woman are something of an item. Steve Trevor and Lois Lane? Left standing in the background.

Here’s a trailer:

Continue reading “Review: Justice League – War”