2 February 2006 | steven.gough
Behind you, Doctor! A terrifying hybrid of old BBC sci-fi series!
This flashy po-faced hokum has clearly been built to milk the appeal of Sir Patrick Stewart to the bobble-hat brigade, and it's not as terrifyingly bad as some of writer Stephen Gallagher's other work. But why-oh-why-oh-why hasn't anybody flagged the significant debt to other and - in my nostalgia-loaded opinion - better series?
It obviously re-treads ground covered in the equally watchable but improbable perils-of-science 1970s BBC melodrama "Doomwatch" - created by Doctor Who writers and Cybermen creators Kit Peddler and Gerry Davis.
"Eleventh hour" writer Stephen Gallagher is also a former Doctor Who writer. What, then, do you think inspired the format of a slightly unworldly trouble-shooting "Government Scientific Adviser" with a younger and slightly feisty but unthreatening girl "companion"?
There's a certain amount to enjoy here, not least Jean Luc Picard trying to pretend he's not posh, as he flattens all his vowels and clearly has to be restrained from saying things like "Ay-up", "By 'eck", and "Ah grew oop round ear". That he's supposed to be a boffin is probably funnier, as in last week's episode which had him talking about quantum probability and Chaos theory to a Government accountant before charging off to put down a virus pandemic.
That girl from "Extras" as his sidekick also gets to wave a gun and run down endless stairs in Lycra tops without the benefit of a sports bra, which may offer younger male viewers some light relief.
Despite the slick presentation and casting coup, this isn't ever going to be great and memorable TV. The man who gave us budget-shy early nineties genetic engineering scare-fest "Chimera" (aka "Monkey Boy" - the clue's in the title) and international drugs corporation paranoia in "Oktober" is clearly going to carry on grinding out un-taxing soft-target science-gone-wrong potboilers. The only real social issue in the second story about a killer virus loose in England's Manchester, was the obvious question, "Well, would they really bother?"