Plot: An engineer is sent to a remote government lab to assist a scientist in his research and to report back on what exactly this consists of. He discovers that the scientist is seeking to prove the existence of a theoretical form of energy that he believes to be the source of all paranormal powers. To capture it in the lab, he plans to use a subject on the brink of death, as well as in a hypnotic trance (to be induced by the computer) and also in telepathic communication with someone else--a child who is mentally deficient but psychically gifted--who can report the dying subject's sensations posthumously. At first skeptical, then appalled, the engineer soon becomes a convert to the scientist's views, concealing the nature of the planned experiment from his own employer and fending off a visit by government officials that would prevent it. At last it takes place, and it seems to be a success...but is it?
Comment: The filmed scenes evoke the isolated atmosphere of the shingle beach quite vividly, but this doesn't carry over into the taped scenes in the laboratory, where most of the play happens, and which by contrast with the exteriors is too clearly a studio set. Simon Ward is too actorish and waxen-looking to make a convincing engineer, and his character and the others don't speak as they would be expected to in those jobs and in that situation. The story held my interest for most of the way, but the longer it went on the more overloaded it seemed, with too many speculative ideas circling about and too little groundwork laid for any of them, so that the final experiment seemed not bold but crazy. And the ending, lacking a climax or a resolution (either scientific or dramatic), is necessarily a letdown. But all in all the show, in its lack of violence and its emphasis on the work of the mind, leaves a pleasanter aftertaste than those that followed in the same genre, a century farther on: "Invasion," for example, or "Torchwood."
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