Doomwatch is the nickname for the Department of Measurement of Scientific Work. Under the leadership of Nobel Prize winning physicist, Dr. Spencer Quist, the Doomwatch team struggled, for ...
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Michael A. Goorjian,
Doomwatch is the nickname for the Department of Measurement of Scientific Work. Under the leadership of Nobel Prize winning physicist, Dr. Spencer Quist, the Doomwatch team struggled, for three seasons, to keep an eye on the environment and supervise government and private sector research in an attempt to prevent pollution and other disasters that might be caused by the misuse of new scientific developments, discoveries and technology. While confronting dangers ranging from a plastic eating bacteria to hyper intelligent species of rats, from mind destroying sound waves to toxic wastes and genetic mutations, the Doomwatch team always found themselves under the gun, from unsupportive governmental superiors, and openly hostile corporations, and the powerful influences they could wield. The Doomwatch team initially consisted of Quist; former intelligence agent, Dr. John Ridge; eager young researcher Toby Wren; technician and computer specialist Colin Bradley; and secretary Pat Hunnisett. ... Written by
K. Takeuchi <firstname.lastname@example.org>
There was seemingly no set continuity for the scenery crew when dressing the studio between recordings. Consequently the three prominent mushroom cloud photographs in Quist's office during the first two seasons regularly swap position between episodes. See more »
Sometime in the '90's, a small clip of 'Doomwatch' was shown on 'The Clive James Show'. The clip, taken from the edition 'Tommorow, The Rat', featured Toby Wren ( Robert Powell ) and Colin Bradley ( Joby Blanshard ) being attacked by ( patently artificial ) rats and was met with uproarious laughter from the studio audience. Can we take it from this then that Mr. James was no admirer of Terence Dudley's sci-fi series which in its time regularly attracted audiences of over 13 million? 'Doomwatch' starred John Paul as Dr. Spencer Quist, Nobel prize winner and head of the organisation known as 'The Department For The Observation & Measurement Of Scientific Work', an organisation which aim to protect the world from danger. Quist, along with help from fellow doctors Toby Wren, Colin Bradley and John Ridge ( Simon Oates ), has put a stop to many threats, which range from plastic disintegrating viruses to genetic mutation. Though a brilliant and highly respected doctor, Quist has a dark secret: he was one of the men who worked on the Manhattan Project ( the project responsible for the creation of nuclear bombs ), which saw his wife killed by radiation poisoning.
Despite its huge following at the time of transmission, 'Doomwatch' is not particularly well remembered anymore. Two possible reasons for its lack of repeats could be either someone involved with it does not want it to be re-shown or there simply is just not enough ( if indeed any ) demand for it. Well, I hate to be cynical but I rather suspect the latter is the more likely explanation, which is a shame for despite its slow pace and woeful special effects, 'Doomwatch' is still an interesting and gripping piece of sci-fi drama. John Paul is superb as the cerebral Quist, as is Robert Powell ( best known for both 'Jesus Of Nazareth' and 'The Detectives' ) as naive researcher Toby Wren ( who sadly was killed off at the end of series one by a nuclear explosion ). Wendy Hall did her best with what she was given in series one as Quist's sexy secretary Pat Hunnisett. Simon Oates got on my nerves, however, as the supercilious Ridge ( no wonder Quist never got on with him! ).
My favourite episode was the aforementioned 'Tomorrow, The Rat' in which attractive Dr. Mary Bryant ( Penelope Lee ) breeds flesh eating rats which end up roaming the streets and attacking anyone unfortunate enough to encounter them. In second place would be 'The Devil's Sweets' in which devious head of 'Checker Board' cigarette factory Peter Shipton ( Maurice Roeves ) implants a special drug inside chocolates to encourage people to buy cigarettes, regardless of whether or not they are a smoker, so as to boost the sales of 'Checker Board'.
Out of 38 episodes a total of 23 survive. The rest are missing assumed destroyed. One episode, 'Sex and Violence', was never transmitted and another, 'The Devil's Demolition', never made it beyond recording. A feature film was made in 1972 featuring most, if not all, of the original television cast. In 1999, Phillip Stone took over from John Paul ( alas having passed away in 1995 ) the role of Spencer Quist in a Channel 5 remake of the show. I have not seen the remake so cannot say whether or not it was any good, though I think it would not be unreasonable to assume that it would not be on the same scale of quality as the original model.
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