‘The Quatermass Experiment’ Experiment.
December 22, 2015 3:14 AM   Subscribe

"This caption is a blatant lie." On the 2nd April 2005, BBC Four broadcast the BBC’s first live drama for over 20 years which was a remake of The Quatermass Experiment, starring Jason Flemyng. A dvd was eagerly anticipated but as this exhaustive investigation demonstrates people did not end up buying the version which was originally broadcast.
posted by feelinglistless (22 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
the man has a point.
posted by andrewcooke at 4:26 AM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I suppose it makes sense that there are people who feel about video the way I feel about editions with different margin widths ...
posted by oheso at 4:36 AM on December 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


adrian bower dried for our sins.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:37 AM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


This feels very much like a "You're not wrong, Walter, you're just an asshole" situation. The green color timing is pretty weird though.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:18 AM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


pedants are the ones who care about trivial issues so that the rest of us might not suffer these degradation and not be made to look obsessed

because these things are important, but mostly we do not have the time to care, and this is how the world worsens in these small parts

thank you John Hoare
posted by solarion at 5:43 AM on December 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


Yeah...That green is really off-putting. Though, I suppose the look was very much of it's time.

I'm pretty amazed there were so many alternate angles on scenes, given the live nature of the show. They must have taped all of the dress rehearsals, or had a bunch of extra cams shooting at the same time for the director to choose from at the time of broadcast.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:45 AM on December 22, 2015


Deity-of-your-choice bless John Hoare. The things he covers - edit news like this, continuity and jingles, mostly - are the glue that hold television together and invisible until someone points them out to you. Then it's difficult not to see them.
posted by Grangousier at 5:47 AM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Does anyone have any insight into why on earth you'd tint an entire programme green like this? I'm struggling to imagine what on earth would motivate it...
posted by Dysk at 6:01 AM on December 22, 2015


I remember when this went out... I didn't watch it live as I didn't have access to BBC4 at the time (pre the era of universal set top boxes) but a friend videoed it for me. I've not seen it since but I remember it being very rough around the edges both editing and filming... but the fact that it was proper live gave it a special atmosphere, especially the odd fluffs (I think they managed to cope with the guy drying pretty well). It's a pity it's been tidied up.

I can only imagine that it's gone green now as part of the digital grading to get it up to standard for DVD (and I can remember the original looking kinda overly brown / yellowish through out)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:05 AM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Does anyone have any insight into why on earth you'd tint an entire programme green like this? I'm struggling to imagine what on earth would motivate it...

For some time after the release of The Matrix and its sequels it seemed that color-correcting any old SF content to a sickly, off-putting green was The Thing to Do.
posted by Mothlight at 6:19 AM on December 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Do you remember back in the days of the ur-Internet (and standard definition TVs), there used to be a guy on Usenet who was endlessly raging about how letterboxed movies were being "censored" to conceal part of the picture behind black bars?

People would try with incredible patience, over and over again, to explain the difference between film and television aspect ratios, the difference between letterboxing and pan and scan, and the irony that in fact it was the pan and scan version that was losing image material from the original film while the letterboxed version actually presented the entire original image. He wouldn't get it. He aggressively defended his position - that letterboxing was fraud, false advertising, and a scandalous censorship of movies - against all comers.

He had a really high Internet profile by the standards of the day, and at the time there was considerable debate over whether he was trolling or whether he really was just incredibly obtuse. I suspect today there would be less uncertainty about that.

But at any rate, I think this might be that guy.
posted by Naberius at 6:33 AM on December 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


This feels very much like a "You're not wrong, Walter, you're just an asshole" situation. The green color timing is pretty weird though.

I'm not disagreeing with you, but I think this has a little bit more merit than similar deconstructions other releases.

Part of what made this production special was it's live nature. So presumably, that's part of the experience of watching this. It'd be like buying a video recording of a live broadway show and then finding out they edited it to make the performance tighter.

The author of course goes into a considerable rant about this point, and I'm sure they make some great points, but they were too much of a pedant (asshole) for me to finish reading.
posted by mayonnaises at 6:40 AM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think this might be that guy.

That's unfair. This guy knows his stuff, and he makes important points about the show and the DVD (mostly in the second half of the piece, for those who stopped reading):

If you’re going to tighten up the cues going into and out of scenes, then you’re not watching a show which was produced live any more. You’re watching something carefully crafted in the edit suite. Fine. But if you’re going to do that, what was the point of doing any of this live anyway?

The worst thing about this aspect is that the cueing going into and out of scenes was generally very, very impressive – in fact, one of the most impressive things about the live version. All this edit does is destroy all that hard work. What you are watching just doesn’t represent how the programme was cut together on the night.


And his underlying point:

The whole point was that it wasn’t like a normal drama. It wasn’t conceived like a normal drama, it wasn’t made like a normal drama, and it wasn’t broadcast like a normal drama. So why does the DVD seem determined to make it like a normal drama?

Who knows how many person-hours have been spent railing against the Special Editions of Star Wars Episodes IV-VI by all and sundry. How is that any different from his entirely reasonable complaints here, apart from being about better-known films?
posted by rory at 6:47 AM on December 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


One of the early Quatermass movie sequels, itself a remake of the same story from the original TV series, Quatermass and the Pit (aka: Five Million Years To Earth) used to scare the bejesus out of me as a child (in the best possible manner). Nostalgia has a force like that of a black hole - - to pull your allegiance away from orbiting your first exposure is an almost insurmountable task.
posted by fairmettle at 7:01 AM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]




Wait till he gets hold of the original broadcast of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The Beeb have been fooling around with that one for nearly forty years.

It's not just the licensed/unlicensed music and "did you know that robot could hum like Pink Floyd?"

There's things like:
Wah-aaaaaah!
Did you hear a noise just then?
A noise?
Yeah. A sort of “Wah-aaaaaah!” noise.
No.
Oh. Arthur?!
Doesn’t seem to be about. . . .
And other missing or replaced bits.

There is, of course, a website.

 
posted by Herodios at 7:08 AM on December 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Adrian Bower dried during this scene with Paul Broughton, and the whole scene was replaced with the tech rehearsal version on DVD. Sadly, I’m too much of a gentleman to actually include the moment where he dries on the original broadcast in this article.
Dried? I thought maybe it was an autocorrected 'died' but Adrian Bower is apparently still alive.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:18 AM on December 22, 2015


A good comparison would be to live albums. Those are almost never "live" in the sense that they're a perfect reproduction of what the audience saw on the night of the recording. The mix gets readjusted, flubs are patched over, song order might get rearranged. But they're still "live" in the sense they weren't recorded in a studio and pieced together from multiple individual takes. So using a rehearsal shot for when someone tripped or their throat dried out mid scene is fine by me.

That green tint though.
posted by thecjm at 8:43 AM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dried? I thought maybe it was an autocorrected 'died' but Adrian Bower is apparently still alive.

I assumed it was industry jargon meaning "dried up", i.e. he forgot his lines.
posted by rory at 9:04 AM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Adrian Bower dried during this scene with Paul Broughton, and the whole scene was replaced with the tech rehearsal version on DVD. Sadly, I’m too much of a gentleman to actually include the moment where he dries on the original broadcast in this article.

When Adrian dried and Paul deadpanned,
Who was then the thespian?
 
posted by Herodios at 10:07 AM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yet every actor has experienced the awful sensation of "drying" on stage - that moment when, inexplicably, a line or word refuses to come to hand when you need it.

To confuse everyone - comics 'die' when they don't get laughs and actors 'corpse' when they can't stop laughing
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:08 AM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


these programmes were fucking horrifying. I remember watching them on my parents tiny black and white tv very vividly.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:15 PM on December 22, 2015


A good comparison would be to live albums. Those are almost never "live" in the sense that they're a perfect reproduction of what the audience saw on the night of the recording. The mix gets readjusted, flubs are patched over, song order might get rearranged. But they're still "live" in the sense they weren't recorded in a studio and pieced together from multiple individual takes.

It would be a good comparison if bands rarely played live, so that seeing a band play live was a special event. If that was the case, and a live album was released, you would expect it to be something that re-produced the experience of an actual live performance so that fans who didn't routinely have that experience would have a better sense of what it is like.
posted by layceepee at 8:57 PM on December 22, 2015


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