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29
3.9 out of 5 stars
The Tripods: Series 1 [DVD] [1984]
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 4 April 2001
I remember being delighted all those years ago when my parents decided to buy a brand spanking new Betamax video recorder. Ostensibly to record my mother's Open University programmes at 3am, to me it just meant that I wouldn't have to miss an episode of "The Tripods". Being a sucker for anything with a good alien in it, I followed the programme keenly, obviously not minding the fact that the actual Tripods of the title rarely show up at all, and their "drivers" are not seen until Series Two.
And now, Second Sight has remembered a TV series that I thought everyone had completely forgotten about. The books might be aimed at "younger adults", but at 26 I still consider them a pretty classic sci-fi story, and was pleased to see that the series has finally been resurrected.
The loose TV conversion of "The White Mountains" which constitutes Series One manages - aforementioned shaky acting and dodgy effects aside - to retain the atmosphere of John Christopher's books, even if it doesn't exactly closely follow the storyline. Much of the content of the series - for example Will's rivalry for Eloise with the arrogant Duc du Sarlat, or the boys' stay with the family at the vineyard - does not appear in the books at all. The books are short, however, and it is not completely surprising that the producers chose to "pad out" the story. But as other reviewers have commented, it may have been this very padding out that was the series' ultimate downfall. Where the characters are on the move, the programme holds the interest. When stops are made, such as at the Chateau Ricordeau (the Chateau de la Tour Rouge in the book), and extended and embellished as they are for the series, I often found myself trying to decide whether or not to "spin on" to the next "interesting" bit.
Like the 1954 film of "War of the Worlds", this conversion was great for its time, and should be watched in that frame of mind. But, also like "War of the Worlds", it takes great liberties with the novels, and I live in quiet hope that one day some great Hollywood blockbuster will be produced that's faithful to the original story. I'm being unfair, though. This series and the one that followed it are good entertainment, and nothing about it in terms of acting, sets, props and effects is any worse than the much-revered "Doctor Who" from the same time. Watch it for fun - I'm sure its widest audience now will be adults on a nostalgia trip!
And now, of course, it just remains to nudge the BBC meaningfully in the ribs and mutter "The Pool of Fire"...
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 1 September 2005
After recently watching war of the worlds and reading the fantastic HG Wells book, it occured to me that The Tripods was long over due in my viewing pleasure.
I was worried that it would look very dated and that my 14 year old school girl crush (Will, the hero of the piece) would never live up to my dwindling memory. How wrong. Yes the acting was a little dodgy and the sfx were nothing compared to today, but lets not forget that this was 1984 BBC1 and the controller of the channel wanted it gone, (the reason series 3 was never made).
The castle part and the vineyard part were slow and did hinder an otherwise great series, otherwise it would have been 5 stars.
This was great nostalgic viewing and i'm just hoping that the bbc will stop dicking about and get series 2 out soon.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 12 March 2001
The Tripods, based on the series of books by John Christopher, came to British TV in a blaze of publicity. Set in England of the future it was the story of how towering machine based creatures had subjugated the Human race by "capping" - connecting the brain to a neural control network.
This, we were told, would be ground breaking television with cutting edge special effects - and one which, the BBC hoped -would become the Sci Fi successor to Doctor Who. The corporation almost pulled it off; but their folly was in adapting the books too literally. Whereas the series could have been an action packed 13 part version of the three novels, the producers decided to split the plot across three series in as many years.
The eponymous tripods themselves were largely absent from the first series, the adventure being based around three teenage boys. Instead, they would make fleeting appearances,and rather than being seen in action, more often than not, were hidden in darkness, or by convenient forests.
For this reason, the series became an albatross, rather than an eagle. Viewers soon grew bored with the meandering plot, and by the end of the first season the writing - in viewing figure terms - was already on the wall (in fact the third series - the resolution of the plot - was never produced).
For all its faults the series is in retrospect very entertaining; and the effects are actually pretty good. Shot entirely on video, the mixture of physical and electronic effects show what the beeb used to be able to do; make involving TV on a shoe string (compared with contemporary US shows that is - this series was not cheap to make). Whilst some of the youger actors were obviously new to their profession, the scenery, and the script were the stars.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and in the end, however, it was not until the second half of second series that the towering creatures and their three legged masters entered the main plot; it was worth the wait, but far too many viwers had already given up on the series.
Doctor Who's crown was safe - at least for another few years, and the Tripods disappeared on a winter's evening, with a cliff hanger that was never resolved. Enjoy this first series as the foundation of what is to come in the second- a prologue almost. Let's hope (unlike BBC Video) that Second Sight release series 2 as well. If they do you will be rewarded with an entertaining slice of TV from the era when families still sat down in front of the TV on Saturday nights, and England was a far more green and pleasant land.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
An excellent trip down memory lane. I was 11 when this was shown on BBC1 and was always eager for the next installment, so to see all 13 episodes on 1 DVD is a treat whether viewing for nostalgia or as a newcomer. Granted, some of the acting appears a little dodgy when seen through adult eyes but the anticipation of seeing a Tripod does not disappoint when they rarely appear. Its a shame that the BBC did not make the final series at all and the second series was never released, so beware sellers claiming to have it! Its also interesting to see John Shackley (Will) again after 21 years and re-discover that schoolgirl crush!!- wonder what he looks like now and what he is doing!
Definitely worth watching.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 April 2007
"The Tripods" has been one of those stories that I have always read great symbolism into - the idea of a society where "the cap" takes away people's creativity and initiative at the coming of age. And although some of the acting isn't first class and the special effects are a little dated, this series was relatively faithful to the original book.

I guess the main disappointment is that for a majority of the series there isn't a sign of any tripods (or just the odd minor sighting) and when there are any encounters with them the lads seem to get away relatively easily and unscaithed. Having said that, the scene where they are trapped under a tripod and manage to trip it up and destroy it is good, and the number of ones then looking for them, including the first sightings of the red ones with guns, builds up some sense of excitement.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This 1984 adaptation of John Cristopher's inspired sci-fi fantasy trilogy is great fun, and despite failing to knock Doctor Who from its perch as The BBC's flagship drama, it stands up as well today as it did 25 years ago.

Will, a young boy on an occupied Earth, yearns for feedom and is disturbed by the 'capping' ceremony that all children have to go through once they reach a certain age. This involves becoming controlled by the invaders - a race of aliens who stalk the land in giant tripedal craft - and losing free will forever. Will is contacted by a wandering vagrant - Ozymandias - who urges him to escape and join the resistance before he is capped. Will's mind is made up when his cousin is capped and he sees the future that The Tripods have mapped out for him. A quest ensues, as Will heads for the White Mountains, in order to join the resistance and save the Earth.

With decent special effects for its day, (it obviously had a bigger budget than Doctor Who which was at the time busily shooting itself in the foot with the abysmal 'Warriors of the Deep'), Series One is never less than entertaining, and it's just a shame that the unbalanced production turned viewers off before it had a chance to become rooted in the public's consciousness.

Worth getting hold of if you can, although it has been re-released with Series 2 as a box set, and I would recommend going for that instead, especially as it has some good DVD extras.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 December 2001
When I was nearly 5 years old i remember watching a series called The Tripods on a saturday afternoon!
This was one of the most frightening programmes i have ever watched (i was only 5 remember).
Years passed after it was cancelled and when I was 12, i was given a copy of the White Mountains to read at school. As soon as i realised that this was the first book in the series of The Tripods I was fixated! I bought the rest of the books and frequently checked the TV guide in hope it would render a re-run, but to no avail.
Years passed and all of a sudden out of nowhere it has re-appeared and now it is like reliving a small chapter, although an extremely important one, of my childhood.
The chills that run through me as i watch this are like nothiung I can describe. This is ultimely one of my fave TV shows of all time.
Will this ever be beaten in those terms? No, probably not, unless of course they actually make the last series, The Pool of Fire!
How cruel to be cancelled before it reached it's climax. Oh Well, This is still very highly reccomended!
Enjoy!!!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 18 February 2005
When I was a child I watched this on TV and rarely missed an episode and was really pleased to find it was still as good as I remeber. The characters have more depth than i remembered even if some of the actcing is unlikely to win an Oscar.
If you fancy a trip down memory lane then it is well worth it and if you fancy a light hearted sci-fi romp, then this is for you too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 8 May 2001
If you are at all a fan of sci-fi then you must see The Tripods. I was 12 years old when I first saw it and was immediately transfixed. I ran out and bought the novels, the glow-in-the-dark sweatshirt and the theme music on 7-inch vinyl! Some of the acting may be a bit dodgy but the story still holds together after all this time. I cannot wait for series two on DVD !
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 January 2005
I loved the Dvd. Great stuff! Yes the effects weren't that great but the story was awesome. I got the books from an aunt when I was younger. Then I watched the series on BBC in 1984/85. The series brought what I read to life. The story was slightly different but the effect it had on me was the same. The series is great. I'm 37 now but I still watch the Dvd with great interest and excitement. In my heart I'm still young. Great series. But like everybody says I wish they'd release series 2 on Dvd. I've seen it but I'd love to own it so I can watch it over and over again like I have the first series.....Classic Sci-Fi at it's best!
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