Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be
Release Date: 4 May 1988 | PG | DVD Director: Colin Cant Cast: Siri Neal, Tony Sands, Helena Avellano, Jacqueline Pearce, Arthur Hewlett, Valerie Lush
kids might get to enjoy Doctor Who or Adventure Time, but the poor deprived things never knew Chocky, Children Of The Stones or the original BBC Narnia adaptations… Aaah, nostalgia. There’s always the unpleasant possibility, of course, that those series were never quite as perfect as they seemed to our pre- teen minds…
Adapted by Helen Cresswell from her own novel, Moondial is the story of Minty, who’s staying with a family friend when her mother is ill. Exploring the grounds of a nearby mansion, she discovers the “moondial” there can transport her through time. Minty meets Tom, an abused servant in the Victorian mansion, and they find Sarah, a girl from an earlier century who’s persecuted by the terrifying Miss Vole ( Jacqueline Pearce). As Minty’s mother recovers, she tries to free the two children before Miss Vole’s modern- day counterpart learns the truth.
If you have fond memories of this show they might be enough to help you enjoy this release through nostalgia- tinted glasses – but maybe not. For non- fans, there’s little to captivate here. The story feels incoherent, with little to explain the moondial, Miss Vole or what exactly happens to the children once they are “freed”. And a dreamy and occasionally haunting atmosphere is sadly not enough to compensate for the show’s slow pacing, precocious child actors and disjointed feel.
Extras: None. Helen Cresswell also wrote and adapted the Lizzie Dripping books, and penned the TV adaptation of The Demon Headmaster.
The firing squad just couldn’t quite pull the triggers…