McCallum and Lumley play their "medium atomic weights" with blank style and a few touches of baffled humour, not to mention visual flair in the case of Lumley's blue fashions and occasional glowing eyes. But the lengthy serial format, strictly limited guest casts and claustrophobic confinement to studio floor sets tend to mean individual serials straggle on with a great deal of repetition, providing longeurs as six or eight-part stories seem to take forever to get moving and then resolve. Shot on video, with a few strange 1970s effects (evil follow-spots, floating pillows), this remains prime cult material, though it's hard to sit still for more than one episode at a time. It will take an extremely devoted fan to get through all three adventures in under six months.
On the DVD: Sapphire & Steel on disc has to be reckoned a disappointment when compared with the wealth of extra material included on the Gerry Anderson or Doctor Who DVDs. This set stretches only to a few press releases and a TV Times article from the launch of the series that tries hard to build up a mystique about the show which it would take some years to actually acquire. There are basic bios of the two stars, and some unresonant stills. Image quality-wise, this looks much the same as previous VHS releases: shot on video, with only a few tiny film inserts for Adventure Three (on the roof of a London building), the series' transfer to DVD is plagued by artefacting of various kinds (some of which can just about be passed off as visual effects), but then again so were the original transmissions. The pristine look is especially unfortunate in exposing the extremely ordinary trickery as far less terrifying than the onscreen characters make them out to be. --Kim Newman
TV Times article
Audio: English Mono
Subtitle: English hard of hearing
On transmission the stories were not titled and the episodes not numbered. Even the "TV Times" could not tell you when a story was in its final episode. When the videos were released (and we found that the memory did not cheat on this series) the tapes used chronological numbers for the adventures. However, the name Adventure One is a bit of a misnomer. Sapphire and Steel had had a number of un-transmitted adventures before this which they referred to in this story. These references were given to establish that Time was evolving mentally to meet the challenge that it faced against Sapphire and Steel. Time was learning how they worked and evolving its tactics to defeat the duo.
I must have been nine when I first saw that story. After the first episode I was not allowed to watch the series in the living room because my parents did not like the supernatural overtones of the series. So I was sent upstairs to watch it alone on the black and white telly in my parents room. I loved the atmosphere of the episodes, built from the shadowy sets and eerie music.Read more ›
At a time when Dr Who was degenerating into pantomime farce, this series is a darker, more eerie twist on the time travel theme.
The duo are agents of a vaguely defined authority who are called to intervene in situations where 'time breaks through.' Time is here a malevolent force, seeking to undo life and creation bound within its laws.
In the first episode a literally faceless character uses photographs to move around and imprison people in the photographic world. There they share the fate of whatever happens to the photo', and in one chilling scene, the 'man who wasn't there'disposes of characters trapped in a photo by setting it alight. This is a chilling, nightmarish moment, typical of the jolts the series can deliver. The atmospheric location (junk shop in this case) is also typical of the series.
The second assignment concerns the machinations of time in taking advantage of a 1930's period dress party to turn the clock back and change history so a terrible plague, averted in real time, occurs. This assignment is adveresely affected by 'padding' (the string of 'whodunnit' murders seem almost superfluous) being 6 instead of 4 episodes in length, but still builds to an effective denoument.
The third assignment brings the series to an abrupt close, with an ending that pulls the rug out from under you, and haunted this reviewer during a sleepless night. It leaves you wishing the writers rescued the pair for a further series, but alas...
The pairing of Mcallum and Lumley is inspired. An understated, effective, fire and ice performance.
Having seen these tales, Ive ordered the first lot. Recommended.