Sci Fi TV Reboots That Should Happen: Quatermass




Television reboots are all the rage mostly because the entertainment industry prefers name recognition over original ideas. But there are some properties that truly deserve a re-look because they didn’t quite achieve their goal the first time around or they were cut short.

quatermassWhat Is It? This was an early British series from the 1950’s that followed Professor Quatermass as he investigated alien contact with Earth. It aired three six-part serials in the 50’s that were notable for taking a serious approach to the genre at a time when it was consider mostly for kids as evidenced by shows like Captain Video and His Video Rangers and Space Patrol. There was also a fourth Quatermass series that aired in the late 70’s.

When Did It Originally Air? BBC, 1953-58, 3 Serials of 6 Episodes Each; ITV, 1979 1 Serial of 4 Episodes

Where Did the Original Fall Short? It didn’t really, but it has not dated well. The first three serials are considered sci fi TV classics, but they did suffer from budget limitations and slow pacing. And the final serial delivered a a rather unsatisfying conclusion.

Why Reboot It? This show represented an early high point for science fiction on television and it can again if handled with the care given to the original. Creator Nigel Kneale wanted to take a serious approach to the genre which had been geared mostly to kids at that point on television. Professor Quatermass makes a great central character for an ongoing series that could update the first three stories to start off with then head into new territory from there. And it would not be disrespecting the original series because that has become such a product of its time and only two episodes from the first serial still exist (the BBC has a bad history of destroying its archival recordings of shows). The third serial from the 50’s, Quatermass and the Pit, is a sci fi / horror classic that could definitely benefit if modern day special effects were added to the mix to bring the story to life (even the classic 60’s feature film adaptation fell short in that respect). Quatermass is well known among the British audience but has never had the same level of popularity in the States. But an updating of the character could change that and deliver a truly great science fiction series.

Did It Before and Doing It Again: All three of the original Quatermass serials were adapted into films by Hammer in the 50’s and 60’s and they are known to American audiences as The Creeping Unknown (1955), Enemy from Space (1957), and Five Million Years to Earth (1967). That last film counts as a sci fi classic, though some of its special effects have not dated well. The first Quatermass serial was also adapted as a television movie in 2005 (co-starring David Tennant) by the BBC since four of the original episodes no longer exist. And just recently, BBC America announced a reboot that appears to be based on the fourth serial.  They may be doing that one because the rights for it are different from the first three serials as it was produced by ITV.  There is no indication that the reboot will try to go back and tackle the originals stories at some point, which means that it will stick with the final serial’s dystopian, end-of-the-world setting.  That has some potential, but I still believe the better move would be to go back to the beginning with this one.