Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Quatermass poster

While I was sick, recently, I found myself watching the 1979 British TV series, "Quatermass," which is a 4-episode mini-series that follows the exploits of an old 1950s and 1960s character that was a sort of prototype for Doctor Who. This series follows him through a new adventure where young people are either becoming ultra-violent (resulting in a breakdown of the inner-cities all over the world) or they're leaving the cities to wander under the name, "Planet People." These Planet People are basically hippies who are convinced that they'll be taken up to another, unspoiled planet by benevolent aliens. That's the ground-work that the first two episodes lay out. Oddly, I loved the story, but hated the series. I found it slow and exceedingly dated. The cold war tension is a bit overwrought (but then in 1979 that wasn't surprising) and the females in the show all have one of two reactions to the hippies: they fall in line, often without on-screen comment, or they go into hysterics. There's only one female character who responds sanely the the events and even she is clearly not very stable. Sad, really.

The most damning point, though, is that the narrative never really takes over. We're never quite sure why the Americans are deferring to our hero, nor why he's the only one who can think of the ultimate solution, which isn't, in fact, very clever. It's not clear why the hippies scare people so badly, nor why it takes quite so long to come to some of the conclusions that people reach. In effect, the series is a long string of events, some of which are painfully boring, and many of which do not appear to affect the overall plot (especially when so many characters that are established with painful deliberation are killed off-screen).

Anyway, as a 2-hour movie, I think I'd enjoy a modern re-make. As 4, hour-long episodes, it was torturous. But the easily recognized professor and the oft-repeated tag-line of the hippies, "soon," gave me the idea for the poster below (click the title to go on if you're seeing this on the front-page), which I'm threatening to turn into a button and wear to conventions. Enjoy!

The original picture comes from http://www.internationalhero.co.uk/q/quatmass.htm where there's a fair amount of info about the character's history. The poster is, of course, done in the style of the Barack Obama "Hope" poster by Shepard Fairey.