Spunky ’60s space se­rial

SFX - - Reviews - Rus­sell Lewin

re­leased OUT NOW! 1962 | PG | dVd Di­rec­tor ernest Mor­ris Cast Nor­man Wooland, Mandy Harper, robin ste­wart, robin Hunter

Bless the BFI! Here’s an­other Bri­tish sci-fi ob­scu­rity res­ur­rected, and while it’s not spell­bind­ing, it’s as wel­come as toast with jam on a cold win­ter’s night.

A black and white Chil­dren’s Film Foun­da­tion se­rial told in eight parts of 15 min­utes each, it bears in­ter­est­ing com­par­i­son with the more slam-bang Amer­i­can se­ri­als that had their hey­day two decades be­fore.

It’s cer­tainly a good deal milder: in a story light on real threat, a pair of chil­dren ac­ci­den­tally end up on a rock­et­ship to… guess where. There they un­cover a plot to poi­son ev­ery­one back on Earth, and run to and fro chased by six-fin­gered Venu­sians wear­ing a va­ri­ety of fetch­ing head­gear (and what on oc­ca­sion ap­pear to be see-through rain macs).

This is es­sen­tially the Fa­mous Five in space – with an an­tiprej­u­dice mes­sage in there too. Episode ti­tles such as “Kill On Sight”, “Attack!” and “The Killer Virus” prom­ise rather more ex­cite­ment than is de­liv­ered. But while sev­eral episodes are a bland runaround, the fi­nal one is gen­uinely sus­pense­ful, con­jur­ing up an un­usual sit­u­a­tion that can’t be re­solved in ob­vi­ous fash­ion.

Also sep­a­rat­ing it from those Yan­kee se­ri­als are the good man­ners and plummy voices of the cast – in­clud­ing the off-screen an­nouncer who at the end of each in­stal­ment in­tones things like, “What are Votan and Kal­las plan­ning for Pat?” You can be as­sured it’s not that nasty, and you can be as­sured that this DVD will keep you away from the real, nasty world for a cou­ple of hours.

Ex­tras Just a short es­say, on the sleeve.

While this new trans­fer is gen­er­ally good qual­ity, “tram­line scratch­ing” (ver­ti­cal lines) is al­most al­ways present.

Like toast with jam on a cold win­ter’s night

Frank’s first dog­ging ses­sion wasn’t what he ex­pected.

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