Wyndham's very 1950s-styled novel is updated by making the kids less well-spoken, and throwing in Rubik's cubes and space invaders video games, but adaptor Anthony Read's script preserves the virtues of the novel. Young Andrew Ellams is fine in a demanding role, and there's good-quality puzzled concern from dad James Hazeldine and 80s TV's resident sexy mum Carol Drinkwater. Apart from a few eye-abusing 1984 fashions--Jeremy Bulloch's huge glasses and blinding white jeans in a cameo as a psychiatrist--and the general leisurely pace, which is no bad thing in such a careful piece of drama, this has dated little. Those who remember its first broadcast will find it lives up to the memory, and those who weren't born then should still find it an entertaining watch.
On the DVD: Chocky on disc can be accessed as a marathon two-and-a-half-hour watch or as six individual episodes (the latter is recommended). Print quality is fine given the techniques of its production. A nice extra is a 20-minute, in-depth chat with writer Anthony Read. --Kim Newman
I first read it not long after it was written, and always liked it. Its theme, which has seen quite a bit of use both before and since, is that of "first contact" with an alien being made by a child. 12-year-old Matthew Gore starts hearing "voices" from an alien life form, and the rest of the book is largely his and his adoptive parents' attempts to come to terms with the phenomenon.
The characters, though perhaps better educated than the average, are basically a pretty ordinary lot, and are completely bewildered by what is going on. Matthew's mother, in particular, takes a very good part as she is driven almost hysterical in her attempts to deal with what is happening to her son, and one of my regrets aboout the sequels is that she did not appear in them. The father manages to stay a bit calmer, and gradually comes to accept that Chocky is real and not a psychiatric phenomenon, but he too is as out of his depth as one might expect in such a situation. As for Matthew himself, to my mind he looks and acts a bit younger than his supposed age, coming over more like a bright ten-year-old, but then his original was a 1950s (or at most early 1960s) twelve-year-old, not a 1980s one, so perhaps the makers of the serial were being true to their source.
In this they were consistent.Read more ›