TO­TAL RE­CALL

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Contents - Rus­sell Lewin, Pro­duc­tion Ed­i­tor

The Bea­tles’ half-re­mem­bered ex­cur­sion into fan­tasy telly.

There’s oxy­gen and there’s The Bea­tles. Both have been vi­tal to my sur­vival. But be­fore we be­gin I prob­a­bly need to make my case. What is a piece on pop group The Bea­tles’ 1965-1967 an­i­mated TV se­ries do­ing in sci-fi magazine SFX? Short an­swer: lots of it is sci-fi! Okay, it’s mainly in that sort of wacky, de­tached-re­al­ity, ju­nior car­toon show kind of way, but con­sider the fol­low­ing sum­maries of what hap­pens in some episodes: John is kid­napped by a mad sci­en­tist who wants the Bea­tle’s brain for his mon­ster; Ringo wan­ders into the woods in Tran­syl­va­nia where he meets a witch; Paul gets kid­napped by “Pro­fes­sor Psy­cho” who wants him to marry his cre­ation, Vam­piress, half girl and half bat; John is shrunk af­ter go­ing for a swim in a pond with po­tion in. And much more. In­clud­ing the band tak­ing a trip 23 bil­lion miles from Earth with a beau­ti­ful fe­male alien.

I wasn’t watch­ing these shows back in the ’60s – I’m not that old! I didn’t even dis­cover them un­til 2009, more than 20 years af­ter my Bea­tles ob­ses­sion proper started in 1987. But when it be­came clear to me that I had to see them I dashed to eBay, where I bought two boot­leg discs with all 39 episodes on them (there has, to date, been no of­fi­cial DVD re­lease of the se­ries, sadly). Each episode, al­though cre­ated in a hurry by rushed cre­atives, is full of de­light – goofy, light-hearted and free­wheel­ing – hurl­ing us back to the most glo­ri­ous decade of them all, which was reigned over by the most glo­ri­ous band of them all. The Bea­tles were al­ways en­twined with the fan­tas­tic: three of their five films – Help!, Mag­i­cal Mys­tery Tour and Yel­low Sub­ma­rine – have strong fan­tasy el­e­ments (par­tic­u­larly Sub­ma­rine, natch); pro­mo­tional films such as “Straw­berry Fields For­ever” and “Free As A Bird” utilise a dream­like pal­ette; and of course songs like “Lucy In The Sky With Di­a­monds”, “I Am The Wal­rus” and “To­mor­row Never Knows” are fully im­mersed in a won­drous psy­che­delic fug. Plas­ticine porters with look­ing-glass ties, in­deed. So this an­i­mated se­ries is just an­other part of the re­mark­able cre­ative ex­plo­sion that the Fab Four be­stowed upon the world – and that in­cludes the world of sci-fi and fan­tasy.

Rus­sell dug the new Eight Days A Week film last month.

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