Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sapphire and Steel

So after hearing it mentioned a lot re. Doctor Who, I finally Googled it. Is it worth a watch? (Rob, I'm basically asking you, seeing as though you review the audio plays!!) Sounds thoroughly bizarre and a bit obscure, but bizarre and obscure are good.

7 comments:

Stu_n said...

I remember Sapphire & Steel as being absolutely terrifying, and re-reading some of the scripts, they're still scary. I haven't watched it for years, though — it's one of those shows that I don't really want to watch as an adult, in case ropey special effects/production values/acting take the shine off. This is known as 'The Blake's 7 effect'.

MediumRob said...

Aha! Yes, it is definitely worth a watch and still works today - I showed the first episode to a friend at university and he had nightmares about it.

The trick is to pick the right order, and to realise that times have changed. For one thing, each story is made up of 25-minute episodes, with one story stretching to a massive eight episodes. That's three hours and 20 minutes you have to find to watch it.

Secondly, the first story was originally written with kids in mind, and has some pretty irritating/inaudible kids in it as well as a dodgy black stereotype. The fifth story wasn't written by PJ Hammond, and so isn't that good, although it does have some cracking moments. And the third story's a little daft and has some bollocks acting. My recommended running order (illogical though it sounds) is story six (the last one), story four, story one, story three, story five then story two. Story six still gives me nightmares. You can probably watch the first episode of the first story first if you prefer, just to give you a flavour of it, since that still holds up well, except for some dodgy chromakey. And the inaudible child.

Thirdly, Stu's right - the effects are a bit tat. Not as tat as you might expect and the opticals still stand up even today. But some of the make-up and in-camera stuff is crap (story three's in particular) and the pre-title credit roll is almost literally a man turning a mangle with the cast list written on it.

Fourthly, Joanna Lumley's irritating. David McCallum, however, is a god.

Lastly, don't ever expect to understand it. It's almost wilfully incomprehensible, like you're watching a game of chess and you don't know the rules and then every so often someone will talk about 'en passant' or the Sicillian Defence and try to explain it to you – in Serbian. It's more about emotional impact, impressions and frights than trying to give you a fully illustrated world with its own rules. You just have to accept there's some scary sh•t out there and S&S (and friends) are somehow there to stop it, and they'll do whatever they have to (including kill you) to do it.

You know, I should probably blog this.

Stuart Douglas said...

Rob's right - it's still worth a watch today.

But he's wrong about the first story, which is great and which freaked me out both as a child and as an adult.

He's right again about episode 5 though, which feels like another (though quite good) series and about episode 6, which may be the best series finale ever.

Then he's wrong again about Joanna Lumley - this is the only show in which she isn't irritating.

Finally, he's right at the end - he should blog it. It's about time we got a Carusometer rating for old TV shows...

AnnaWaits said...

Wow, thanks for all that everyone! Definitely worth a go.

Stu_N said...

Which is the one with the ghost hunter and the WWI ghosts at the railway station? Even thinking about that one gives me the creeps.

MediumRob said...

"Which is the one with the ghost hunter and the WWI ghosts at the railway station?"

Adventure two. It's long and there's a lot of padding, but the scary stuff is deeply disturbing.

Richard said...

I remember the one about a cafe where time stands still, which - according to Wikipedia - is story six. If I can remember that episode after 26 years despite not being a TV sci-fi nerd, it must be worth digging out...