Monday, January 12, 2009
The first joy of BitTorrent is downloading this ahead-of-its-time 1970 series about a government unit preventing ecological disaster.
Only, it isn't about that at all. It's about smoking, whisky in the afternoon, and giving dolly birds a firm pat on the bum to keep them in their place.
In Project Sahara, two members of the team are suspended. Both are investigating a biological weapon that can turn crops into desert. The man goes out on the piss. The woman goes home, and sets a trap for her married lover, just in case. Good thing too, as it turns out that her lover is a spy - and although she's very carefully given nothing away, she gets the sack. The drunk, however, gets to stay. Backslapping , laughter and "you'd better lay off the booze, Toby old man, haha" all round.
Now, the complexity is that the woman is Palestinian and is considered a risk in case she uses the information to wipe out crops in Israel. This is Contemporary and Relevant. And she gets the sack even though she is scrupulous, careful, honest and above, all, sober.
She also loses major points when she turns down the freshly suspended Toby. "Who you keeping it for?" he slurs.
The only conclusion is that she gets the boot because she manages to be both frigid and a slag.
The next episode, Re-Entry Forbidden (fnarr) is about the space programme. well, a bit. It should be called "The Astronaut's Slutty Wife" as she's obviously a beehived bit of crackling.
Everyone is worried about whether an astronaut is safe to fly - is he paranoid because he thinks his wife is cheating on him? Well, clearly not, as she's a heavy-lidded bimbo who laughs a bit too loudly whenever men tell her jokes.
After his return to Earth she shows him her new coat and he tells her he spent the spaceflight worrying that she was sexing other men. As you would.
Try and imagine the chat-up line that would work there. Her husband is an astronaut. How are you going to beat that?
However, Doomwatch are on the case trying to work out if he's nuts or not. Their solution is to have a whisky party and smoke heavily.
Everyone smokes. I watched this at 7am and had the urge to chainsmoke. Doomwatch smoke. Newsmen smoke on air. I was even expecting the astronauts to smoke in their space capsule. They don't, which immediately explains the problem - they're not paranoid, they're suffering from nicotine withdrawl.
Cut to dolly bird secretary who doesn't even have a name, just a very short skirt which barely covers her shorthand. "This space progamme is all very well, but does it feed the hungry children?" she wails. She is being simultaneously Contemporary and Relevant as well as Stupid because she is just a woman.
At the last minute, the astronaut's wife admits that her husband thinks everyone wants to sleep with her when they're not plotting against him. Doomwatch rush into action - although, by this point, it's more of a boozy stagger.
This, I think, is a brilliant plot twist. She's not just hair - she's scheming hair who wants to ruin her husband. But that's not it. She doesn't understand what she's saying because She Is Just A Woman.
But can Doomwatch save the space mission? The answer is, no, as their secret message ("Your colleague is a paranoid nutter") gets accidentally broadcast to the entire crew, triggering a schizoid meltdown, a fight in the cockpit and the deaths of all on board, with the last announcement from the doomed crew "Er, he wasn't mad after all, one of our warning lights wasn't working."
So, I'm two episodes in, and a principled scientist has got the sack for being female and an astronaut's been killed for having a wife who looks like she puts out for tuppence. Way to go team. I am. naturally, gripped.