Tuesday, 20 June 2017
The Omega Factor (1979)
I read someone else's review of this series where they described it as "The X-Files, if it was made in 1970s Britain". It's not a bad summation ... though not in my mind as positive a thing as that reviewer intended it to be.
Conspiracy TV - that is, shows which feature a shadowy, Illuminati-esque organisation as a largely unseen adversary - often face a fairly critical problem. The need to keep the antagonist central to most episodes, without every allowing them to be materially defeated, often causes them to become so pervasive and powerful that the audience is left wondering how it is that they haven't already won. When you combine this tendency with the fact that the bad guys here have access to mind control ... well, it's safe to say that The Omega Factor has this problem in spades.
Journalist Tom Crane specialises in articles regarding psychic phenomena and other wacky theories of the 1970s. In the course of his latest round of research, he discovers that he himself has powerful, untapped psychic abilities. This brings him to the attention of Department 7, a secret branch of the UK government that researches such matters. And also to the attention of Edward Drexel, a malevolent psychic who - despite his power - Crane soon comes to believe is merely the pawn of a larger, sinister organisation known as "Omega".
So one catastrophic flaw that The Omega Factor suffers is the fact that Tom Crane is a terrible person. He's hugely unlikable on any number of fronts. His arrogant pigheadedness gets his wife killed in the first episode, and then by the third episode - barely weeks alter - he's actively pursuing a relationship with his dead spouse's best friend. When the two of them do hook up (unlike Mulder and Scully, the sexual tension is not left to simmer), he treats her very poorly, both personally and (since they work together in Department 7) professionally. The fact that in the context of the show, he always turns out to be right, does nothing to make him less irritating. Quite the reverse, in fact.
Couple the jerk protagonist with the show's lack of closure - it was cancelled after one season - and tI can't see any good reason to spend time and money tracking this one down.