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.
What Is It? This late 70’s British entry focused on a secret government organization known as Department 7 which is set up to investigate paranormal phenomena such as ESP, telekinesis, out of body experiences, etc. and to determine if these can help tap into and/or expand the potential of the human mind.
When Did It Originally Air? BBC, 1979, 1 Season Totaling 10 Episodes
Where Did the Original Fall Short? As a 70’s British entry, it of course had a low budget, and it feels a bit dated with some of the attitudes of that decade at the forefront. But the main reason it fell short is because it was cancelled before it could finish telling its story.
Why Reboot It? This series has had little exposure in the United States and is even long forgotten by many British viewers, but it is an excellent series that deserves a second chance. In many ways, this show beat The X-Files to the punch with its investigations into the paranormal (no aliens, though), its over-arching story connecting stand-alone episodes, as well as its global conspiracy elements. You have to believe that Chris Carter caught some episodes of this show and they had a lasting influence on the series he later created. But The Omega Factor is much more than a television curio with similarities to a better known series. This was a strong entry on its own with excellent writing and a stand out cast (which included Louise Jameson fresh off her stint as Leela on Doctor Who). It produced some downright intense episodes that took a deep dive into the paranormal elements at its center. It also established a tense setting with plenty of paranoia through its conspiracy storylines. Unfortunately, The Omega Factor got caught up in a campaign against indecent and immoral television spearheaded by Mary Whitehouse because of its dark themes, and the BBC elected not to bring it back for a second season. Some of the storylines were resolved by the final episode, but it definitely set up a continuation from there as well. And that’s what I believe the reboot / revival could key on. There’s no need to go back and re-imagine the original series, just pick up the story forty years later. Bring in some of the original actors (unfortunately series lead James Hazeldine passed away in 2002) as well as younger actors who could pick up the torch and run with it. There were plenty of good story ideas left open by the original series that the new show could work from. It would need a few episodes to establish the premise for new viewers, but once that is out of the way, this is a concept with a ton of potential. Unfortunately, there is currently a glut of supernatural / paranormal themed shows in the Too-Much-TV era, but a revived Omega Factor could make good use of the global conspiracy themes as well. Heck, this might give us a much more satisfying revival than the recent return to The X-Files that FOX delivered, and if done right this could carry on the excellent legacy of the original show.
Already Doing It: After I had drafted out this post, I was reading the Wikipedia article on the show and discovered that the very revival I suggested above has already occurred in audio format. Big Finish Productions has produced one audio drama (with another in the works) that revives the show and continues the original story. Louise Jameson has reprised her role and the son of the original main character Tom Crane comes onboard to join Department 7. Big Finish is noted for their many Doctor Who audio dramas and they have also revived shows like Torchwood, Blake’s 7, Survivors, and even Dark Shadows. I will be getting their Omega Factor revival on my audio book radar and should have a review of that in the next few months.
Where Can I Watch the Original? The complete series has been released on Region 1 DVD, though it is a bit pricey. You can also find the entire series on YouTube, though the episodes are broken into less than ten minute chunks to slip past that site’s copyright infringement guidelines. How long the show will be there remains to be seen, but I highly recommend checking this one out.