For years FOUR FEATHER FALLS has only existed in negative format, so kudos to NETWORK for going the distance to release Gerry Anderson's earliest original series. With this set I can now call my Anderson archive complete (I've been recording the marvellous NEW CAPTAIN SCARLET off air), and what a wonderful experience it is to look back over the many excellent series Gerry and his collaborators have produced over the last five decades. It's about time the man was Knighted...!
In 1960, no longer doing work for Roberta Leigh but not yet under the famous ITC banner, AP Films made this fantasy western series for Granada Television and it's a delight for all ages (I'm 34!). FOUR FEATHER FALLS recounts the adventures of Sheriff TEX TUCKER as he fights off villains like PEDRO, FERNANDO and BIG BEN with the help of his talking horse & dog and two guns that magically fire by themselves (but I suppose you knew all this already?)
FOUR FEATHER FALLS is presented here in it's entirity: 39 13 minute episodes spread over three discs. Extras are pretty minimal for a series of this age, which is perfectly understandable, but the colour "home movie" footage of the cast and crew is nice to see. The episodes themselves have not been mastered or restored to the quality of the likes of SUPERCAR or FIREBALL XL5 (Episode one, "How It Began", has a bad scratch down the middle for it's entire duration) but given the relatively small (but dedicated) market for this series it would be unfair of me to criticise NETWORK for this.
It is amazing to see that, even at this early stage, the "feel" of later shows is present. This is due mostly to Barry Gray's score and the omnipresent (and wonderful) David Graham providing so many character voices. The other cast members, Denise Bryer, Kenneth Connor and of course Nicholas Parsons are equally good, doing great jobs despite them working on a "kid's show".
It's very easy to dismiss the appeal of shows such as this as pure nostalgia, but I think there's far more to it than that. I love them because they're GOOD! It's now impossible to find a television series (even those geared towards children) that are as free of cynicism or crowd-pleasing low-brow humour as FOUR FEATHER or SUPERCAR. It's a cliche to say that television was so much better then than it is now, but I stand by that statement 100 percent.