Department 7 is a secret branch of British government dedicated to investigating the supernatural. Its team of experts, led by Roy Martindale and Dr. Anne Reynolds, find themselves teamed with journalist Tom Crane, who is investigating similar cases for his newspaper.
"The Omega Factor" refers to the limitless potential of the human mind, which is explored in often-terrifying detail in this short-lived cult BBC series from 1979. The late James Hazeldine stars as a journalist who discovers that he possesses extraordinary psychic gifts; his talents bring him in contact with Department 7, a shadowy government bureau that investigates paranormal phenomena. Over the course of the series' ten-episode run, Hazeldine, his friend and fellow Department 7 member Anne (Louise Jameson, Leela from the Tom Baker-era Doctor Who
), and his somewhat sinister superior Dr. Martindale (John Carlisle) encounter haunted houses ("Visitations"), secret military experiments ("Night Games"), cases of apparent possession ("Powers of Darkness"), and all manner of psychic abilities, as well as a secret organization called Omega that plans world domination through mind control. Deftly handled by a host of TV veterans (many of whom also worked on Doctor Who
, including producer George Gallaccio, director Paddy Russell, and writer Anthony Read, who also wrote the acclaimed U.K. sci-fi series Chocky
and its sequels, which starred Hazeldine), The Omega Factor
tackles its supernatural/conspiracy subject matter in a serious manner without sacrificing its inherent creepiness, much as The X-Files
would 30 years later (the pleasing chemistry between Hazeldine and Jameson is also a forerunner to the Mulder-Scully relationship). Unfortunately, hysterical controversy from watchdog groups led to its early demise and enduring cult status. The three-DVD set includes the entire series, as well as a featurette of interviews with Gallaccio, Read, and co-producer/creator Jack Gershon; all three are featured on a commentary for the infamous "Powers of Darkness" episode (which garnered much of the public outcry during the series' broadcast), for which they're joined by director Eric Davidson. --Paul Gaita