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Day of the Triffids [DVD] [1981]
Day of the Triffids [DVD] [1981]
Dvd ~ John Duttine
Price: £5.67

113 of 115 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long Awaited Return, 28 Jun 2005
This was the mini series that made me discover John Wyndham's work. It's such a pity that Wyndham didn't get to see this adaptation of his most famous book because it captured the feeling of disaster and collapse perfectly.
Having not seen this BBC serial in almost eighteen years, I was resigned to the idea that it would probably never be shown on television again. Therefore I was pleasantly surprised to find that it has now been released on DVD. Watching it again after so many years really took me back.
The DVD just contains the six twenty-five minute episodes. (In Australia we saw it as three one hour episodes.) The booklet that comes with it is very good, I was unaware that there were so many adaptations of "Triffids" on the radio. The booklet did forget to mention there was also a comic strip version in the 1970s but that dosen't really matter. Originally Wyndham imagined the triffids coming from Venus but luckily he changed that idea. Considering what we know about Venus today, this would have dated the story horribly.
The triffids themselves are very well done, resembling giant pitcher plants. Admittedly they don't appear all that threatening, but then plants never do. You'll remember Bill Masen saying it was in fact fashionable to keep a docked triffid as a pet to amuse the children.
Unfortunately John Wyndham only saw the 1963 film; this 1981 version of "The Day of the Triffids" truly retains the spirit of the original book and its sense of irony. Before the comet lights the triffids were fenced in and farmed for their oil. Later in the story it's the human survivors that are fenced in trying to keep the triffids out.
Everyone involved in this production did a good job. This is probably one of the best examples of post apocalypse television. Well worth waiting for.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 26, 2013 2:56 PM GMT

Raven (Carousel Books)
Raven (Carousel Books)
by Jeremy Burnham
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sacred Ground, 24 July 2004
This review is from: Raven (Carousel Books) (Paperback)
This book is based on the television series from 1977 starring Phil Daniels. I only have a very vague memory of the series as I saw it more than twenty years ago at about the age of six. It was a programme I've thought about on and off since then, mysterious images lodged in my brain. Having read the book just over a week ago, the gaps are filled, the mystery is now solved, and I now understand what the story was all about.
Raven is a teenage boy just out of Borstal. His origins are shrouded in mystery because he was a foundling, discovered lying in the middle of a stone circle, watched over by a raven. Which is how the boy got his name. Years later he returns to the area in the care of his new foster parents, a woman who likes to study birds and an elderly, wheelchair-bound archaeologist.
The government intends to store radioactive waste in the series of caves that run beneath the stone circle, which are linked to the legend of King Arthur. The archaeologist is trying to preserve this sacred site. At first Raven is completely indifferent about the caves, much to the displeasure of the archaeologist. In fact, Raven gets a positive joy in winding him up with remarks about progress. Later on Raven experiences a vision in the caves that changes him. An apparition of a young medieval king materializes, a man who has the same face as Raven...
From that moment a new phase in Raven's life begins. Can Raven save the caves? Or will the government get its way? "Raven" is an entertaining book about the nature of destiny, taking on responsibility, making a stand and fighting for a cause. At one point in the book we learn that this radioactive waste the government is trying to hide away remains deadly for at least a quarter of a million years.
Environmentalism was a popular issue in the 1970s and remains so today. I don't know if the T.V. series of "Raven" will ever be shown again, which is a pity because it does convey an important message. The book is a good substitute.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 26, 2013 8:44 AM BST

Threads [VHS] [1984]
Threads [VHS] [1984]
Offered by funkybunnie
Price: £4.98

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gone In a Flash, 26 Nov 2003
This review is from: Threads [VHS] [1984] (VHS Tape)
Anti-nuclear films were nothing new when "Threads" came out. Writers had imagined the consequences of a nuclear attack since the 1950s, when civil defense was actually taken seriously, and politicians tucked away in well-stocked shelters believed it would be possible to reconstruct. While writers did anticipate the possibility of extinction, the aftermath of the conflict was always played down or underestimated. "Threads" shows us the unmitigated suffering survivors would face in which the effects of a very short war would persist for generations. The viewer comes away from the film knowing that the people who died instantly in the explosions would be the fortunate minority. With the lingering radiation and ultraviolet light, children born several years down the track would inherit nothing but defective genes and weak immune systems.
With disturbing clarity "Threads" depicts a 3000 megaton nuclear exchange in which civilization is all but destroyed. This all happens because of a dispute between the United States and the Soviets over some oil fields in Iran. Within a matter of hours, the industrialized world is gone, and the survivors are forced to cope with what the unseen politicians had left them: relentless cold, widespread famine, epidemic, and the long-term effects of radioactive pollution. In the ruins of Sheffield, where the film takes place, the aftermath is spelt out for us with unforgettable images and horrifying facts told by a dispassionate narrator.
"Threads" is the first anti-nuclear film to feature a nuclear winter. When "Threads" was made the theory was fairly new and controversial. While most of the general public imagined radiation being the major killer after a nuclear attack, nobody had really thought of the changes made to the climate by all the dust in the atmosphere. Due to lack of sunlight for an indefinite period, the majority of survivors would die of cold and starvation rather than radiation sickness.
A very good non-fiction book people should read is "Nuclear Winter: the Evidence and the Risks" by Owen Greene. It makes chilling but informative reading. In fact, it's like "Threads" in book form, with its statistics and scenarioes, the effects on agriculture and medicine, and a map of Britain covered in circles indicating the bomb blasts. The book was published one year after "Threads" came out.
One of the things that makes "Threads" so effective is all the things we don't know. Presumably, it was only the Northern Hemisphere that was bombed. Would Australia and New Zealand have been left untouched? The "Nuclear Winter" book mentions a policy in which countries not even involved in the conflict would still be bombed, in order to prevent them becoming the new dominant power. So China probably got its share of nuclear explosions too. Did the Royal Family survive? "Threads" reminds us how easily we could lose everything because of irresponsible leaders. Usually in war, it's only the civilians who suffer, never the leaders. It's a good idea to be careful who you vote for. That politician could be the one who destroys the world.

Doctor Who - The E-Space Trilogy (Warriors' Gate / Full Circle / State of Decay) [VHS] [1963]
Doctor Who - The E-Space Trilogy (Warriors' Gate / Full Circle / State of Decay) [VHS] [1963]
Offered by rdowns33
Price: £9.99

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Marooned, 3 Sep 2003
This trilogy covers the Doctor's adventures in E-space, a smaller universe accessed by the TARDIS after it accidentally slipped through a CVE. In the first story "Full Circle", Romana has to be taken back to Gallifrey. But following the mishap with the CVE, they end up on Alzarius instead, just as the legendary Mistfall is setting in. This is where we first see the mathematical whiz Adric, who a lot of fans found annoying. I actually liked Adric.
My favourite story out of the trilogy is the middle one, "State of Decay". I found this story quite scary when I first saw it as an impressionable child back in the 1980s. "State of Decay" takes place after "Full Circle" but it was actually filmed before "Full Circle", so strictly speaking this is the first time Adric appears in the show. The setting is quasi-medieval, a backwater planet where peasants toil for the sinister Lords - "The Three Who Rule". For over a thousand years things have been the same. A primitive society where learning is forbidden. The vampire Lords rule from a rocket-shaped Tower which looms over the village. Young people are periodically selected from the village to "serve" the Lords. A band of rebels survives in the wastelands. If you look at this story too closely however, you will find plot holes. For example, Lord Aukon could detect the presence of strong alien minds (the Doctor, Romana and Adric), yet he failed to notice the rebellious streak in Ivo's mind. This is especially disturbing when Aukon said "We have bred dullness, conformity, obedience into those clods for twenty generations." Aukon couldn't locate the rebels' hideout either. Nevertheless, the Doctor is up against a formidable enemy in this adventure. Isn't he always?
The trilogy concludes with "Warriors Gate", where the TARDIS literally lands in the middle of nowhere. To be more precise, the gateway that leads back into N-space (our universe). Slavery is dealt with in this adventure, as the lion-like Tharils are cruelly exploited for their sensitivity to Time. Stephen Gallagher wrote this story. Apparently he was influenced by Joe Haldeman's novel "The Forever War". We see some sophisticated special effects (for 1980) as Biroc's mind forms an animated wireframe image of the TARDIS. Look at his "afterimage" as he runs through the white void.
The E-space trilogy is a strong set of stories. This is also where we say goodbye to Romana and K.9. as they decide to help Biroc and the other Tharils fight slavery. K.9.'s departure was a sad loss for fans, but a blessed relief for the technical crew, who sometimes found the robot dog hard to control. It may sound like a cliche, but after "Warriors Gate" things would never quite be the same.

The Office - The Complete First Series [2001] [VHS]
The Office - The Complete First Series [2001] [VHS]
Offered by Film Frenzy Fast Delivery
Price: £2.99

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Want some paper?", 3 Sep 2003
I once came across this Protestant quotation: "Work is only meaningful if it hurts". Nowadays hard work doesn't have to involve physical pain: boredom, apathy and disillusionment are just as damaging to health and self-esteem as a broken leg. Thanks to an out-dated work ethic, people are trapped in a daily routine of monotony, stress and the mistaken belief that "you are your job" - an attitude compounded by the fear of redundancy and a loss of social worth.
And so we come to the setting of "The Office": a soulless environment of humming computers and ringing telephones. A sub-branch of the paper merchants Wernham-Hogg. From what we see of the workers and hear by the sound of their voices, it is clear that they get no pleasure from their work. Tim Cantebury makes it quite plain to the documentary crew that he'd rather be somewhere else. The only job satisfaction he gets is in winding up the military-minded team leader Gareth Keenan, who once tried to express his sensitivity to an attractive girl by saying: "Isn't 'Schindler's List' a great film?"
Perhaps the only person who seems to be enjoying himself is the manager David Brent. His version of reality is like the reflection we see in a distorting mirror: completely false. David sees himself as a lively, funny and charming friend to everyone. At one point he even compares himself to Jesus Christ. In actual fact he comes across as embarrassing, thoughtless and offensive. David plays up to the camera with a series of misfired jokes, to which his colleagues react with awkward, pained or stony expressions.
Many viewers of "The Office" say that this is frighteningly close to reality. Everyone can relate to at least one character. Ricky Gervais actually based some of the goings-on in "The Office" on his own experiences, although he said David Brent wasn't inspired by one particular person. Like "The Royle Family" or "People Like Us" you have to work out for yourself which bits to laugh at. Situations in real life aren't accompanied by disembodied hahahaha's or background music.
I read in the newspaper that Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant are planning to make a one-off Christmas special of "The Office", with David Brent dressed as Santa Claus. They said they would start filming in August. It sounds like that most stressful time of the year will be taken to new heights. I look forward to seeing it.

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