I must confess that I find it rather sad that ‘Quatermass II’, seems to have taken the title of the ‘weakest link’ in the original Quatermass Trilogy. Personally, I fail to understand why, as despite having some weak moments I think it stands up well next to ‘Quatermass and the Pit’ (Easly the best instalment) and in many respects betters ‘The Quatermass Experiment’. Reasons as to why ‘Quatermass II’ doesn’t seem to get the respect it deserves includes the facts that since ‘Quatermass and the Pit’ is undoubtedly the best and ‘The Quatermass Experiment’ was not only the first, this is often forgotten. Also the serials leading man, John Robinson, was nervous about taking over from Reginald Tate and so has been accused several times of giving a stilted and wooden performance. The final episode in which Quatermass journeys to an asteroid in a rocket has also been accused of being incredibly fake and difficult to watch. The last issue especially was corrected in the 1957 Hammer Films adaption which most people count as being superior. Whilst I do admittedly prefer the Hammer film and can understand some of these arguments, there are many reasons why I still love Quatermass II and I think it’s about time it is viewed in the same light as it’s peers.
Professor Bernard Quatermass is distraught to discover that his prototype rocket dubbed ‘Quatermass II’ (see the title had more meaning than you think!), has developed a dangerous fault and thus the project may have to be scrapped. His attention is diverted however when his is brought a strange meteorite and stumbles upon a mysterious compound. As Quatermass digs deeper he discovers a plot which involves an alien invasion, corruption in the government and a possible solution in the form of his failed ‘Quatermass II’ rocket...
I think it’s best to begin by discussing this serials leading man, John Robinson, who as previously stated has received much criticism for his performance. Robinson was known for being nervous about taking over from Reginald Tate and indeed he is often viewed as one of the weakest of all the actors to play Quatermass, if not the weakest. To an extent, particularly in the first episode, I can see some justification for calling his performance wooden but, however as the story goes on I found him riveting to watch and considering the wealth of supporting characters he manages to keep the viewers attention solely on him. Other crtiticism concerning his performance is, I find extremely unfair and I think it’s high time he earns some of the respect he so desperately deserves. Like the previous serial there’s a wealth of supporting characters in this story that one cannot simply help but love. I particularly love Austin Trevor as Fowler, the Minister who in a perfect moment of Ironic black humour meets his demise at the hands of a filing cabinet. Then there’s of course the always enjoyable Hugh Griffith as Dr Leo Pugh, previously I had only witnessed this fine actor in more comedic roles and so it was nice to see him with a role that actually had some depth to it, the scenes where he discusses his resentment towards computers being personal favourites. One character I did think was rather surplus to requirements was Paula Quatermass played by Monica Gray. Forgive me for being blunt but I don’t really understand what the point of her character is aside from being the only female supporting cast member. In ‘Experiment’ and ‘The Pit’, the female characters seem to have some sort of point thats vital to the plot but here well she’s just sort of there.
The majority of criticism for Quatermass II will target primarily the final moments on the asteroid. With money running out the designer decided that the best way to recreate a planet in the studio would be to throw some tarpaulin over a couple of piles of stacked chairs and flood the studio with dry ice. Least to say it doesn’t really work too well and seeing John Robinson and Hugh Griffith struggle about in ridiculous looking spacesuits, gives one the impression that perhaps Quatermass II has become exactly the kind of silly sci-fi the first serial was criticising. Now I do think that the idea is an extremely good one and although it is difficult not to feel a slight bit of disappointment during these final few moments, It was the demise of Hugh Griffith’s character that stayed with me and along with the scenes involving the ill fated family picnic and the blood oozing from the pipe, managed to actually send a shiver up my spine. Were it not for that final moment though I do think that there is a pretty good chance that this ending could of spoiled the serial for me.
All in all though Quatermass II is a fine piece of television and despite one or two small issues is undeserving of the large amount of criticism it has received in comparison to the other two instalments in the trilogy. As previously stated, like a great many people I do prefer the 1957 film adaption with Brian Donlevy, but the serial is still a great watch and stands up well when compared to both the first and third stories.
Welcome one and all- Please leave sanity at the door
A Teenage boy with a passion for all things nerdy! Expect a lot of Doctor Who, Cult/Horror Movies, Literature and Novels, History, Comic Books and random thoughts. Posts published weekly on a Friday evening. DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the items reviewed on this site and i also do not own of the pictures (unless stated so). If you own one of the photos and wish for it to be removed contact me at this adress: Super.firstname.lastname@example.org. However all of the written work is my own and is protected under copyright law.