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24 January 1949 (UK)  »

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I Have A Confession To Make ...
21 September 2005 | by (Isle Of Bute , Scotland) – See all my reviews

...... And that is I'm " reviewing " something I have never seen . If the IMDb don't accept this review I perfectly understand because we don't want to open the floodgates where people submit things they haven't seen , though I have seen many reviews ( Before the ten lines minimum rule was introduced ) we're about three lines long stating " I'd rather get my legs chopped that have to watch this again . 90 minutes of my life that I'll never get back " which led me to the conclusion that these comments were written by someone who had never seen the movie they were ranting about . Hopefully what I'm about to write is far more informative and literary respectable than that

I've seen transcripts and still photos from this live teleplay and if you haven't seen it on its original broadcast from 1949 trust me you'll never see it now because in those days film recording for television wasn't done , in those days things were broadcast live and that was it , nothing was kept for posterity , and it wasn't until 1953 that the BBC put forward the idea of recording their dramas , something that was resisted by the unions which meant the final four episodes of THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT were the victim of an industrial dispute at the BBC hence they weren't recorded for the archives

This teleplay is faithful to the book for the most part . You know these memorable scenes from the two movies where the traveler stops and has a walk around ? These don't actually appear in Wells novel which starts with a long talky sequence of the time traveler ( he's not named on screen ) inviting a few of his friends along to his house to discuss this brilliant invention - A time machine . Obviously his associates think he's mad and leave the house so the traveler decides to try out his invention and finds himself in the year 802,701 AD where he becomes embroiled amongst the politics of the Eloi and Morlocks . After trying in vain to save an Eloi girl called Weena from the Morlocks he then travels forwards through time where the sun turns supernova and destroys the planet . After witnessing this he goes back through time to the date where he last spoke to his friends who are now convinced he is mad until he pulls out a strange flower he was given by Weena . This last sequence is the only major deviation from the source novel

It might seem like a seriously daft idea to produce an effects driven live TV drama in 1949 but from what I've seen in photos the director Robert Barr seems to have done his best to make it work . I know something like QUATERMASS 2 is laughably bad when viewed today but much of that's down to over ambition . This version of THE TIME MACHINE required only a couple of sets and all of the effects were achieved through back projection which when you've got 405 line monochrome television with a weak broadcast signal probably would have appeared very acceptable to viewers at the time and much of the set design in not unimpressive though the time machine itself looks like a cross between a cammode and a hairdryer !


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