Tuesday, 4 July 2017

The Omega Factor: Night Games

While I have no doubt that I will run out of steam and this show will join the procession of series of posts which I have started and not finished as my grasshopper mind gets distracted, for the moment I am on a role. I have to correct something I wrote in yesterday's post, since I have found that the show has actually answered a criticism I made. When I started my laptop this morning and pressed play for the DVD it started somewhere rather random (obviously this should be subject to a parapsychological investigation in the near future) and I found in the meeting with the Department 7 man in the first episode, that Crane actually did have psychic phenomena happen as a boy. He had suppressed them from his memory but his mother had actually contacted the department herself to make them aware of her progeny.
Apparently The Omega Factor was made in a bit of a rush and different writers had to be commissioned for each episode. This shows in the fact that this one feels very different from the two I have watched before: the style is quite different, changing between scenes much faster, and the pace generally is much faster. The technique used creates a developing sense of confusion in the mind of the viewer, and for the first ten minutes or so, so much is happening that it is very difficult to get an overview. I'm torn, actually, to decide which I like best. The prevous episode felt very much like Sapphire and Steel and this one feels much more modern. This one also has the distinct advantage of really feeling like an adventure - it would be difficult to turn this one off in the middle without finding out what happens. Both styles of writing, however, require the attention of the viewer, as otherwise it is easy to get lost.
Further shades of the X-Files here, because in this one Crane's brother is brought into the plot, as part of the 'something' which needs to be explained. Crane also starts to go full Mulder in this one by sticking his head into something where he is plainly not wanted, and without the say so of his bosses. It's almost like being back in the basement with the FBI's least wanted! Crane's maverick investigation enters into the heart of the Establishment - in this case the army, and true to form he bangs his head against the brick wall of the Establishment. In fact the X-Files shadows just carry on and on. An abrupt change in the department's classification so that they can't get on with their work. Flat denial that the army training ground in Caithness even exists. Infiltration of the army by Drexel's agents. Secret information received from a disaffected soldier. As Scully would say, 'Yadda yadda yadda'.
There is something of a subcultural message about this episode. The graffiti artist Banksy once commented that you can graffiti anything in broad daylight if you put on a hi vis vest and play a radio, hence looking as if you belong. The subcultural message of this episode is similar: you can get away with anything if you look like you're part of the Establishment. Unfortunately once you've done your anything the Establishment tend to get very cross and lock you up!
Possible criticisms about this episode - I actually think it's the best of the three I have written about so far. That said I think a valid criticism is that it does relatively little to progress Crane's investigation into Drexel. It is fairly obvious right from the somewhat impressionistic scenes at the beginning, that Drexel must be behind this in some way, since he is the opponent of the story. All of the development of the story is therefore only developing something we already know.

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