Customer Reviews


26 Reviews
5 star:
 (14)
4 star:
 (6)
3 star:
 (6)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cult classic that withstands the passage of time
Perhaps the reason that Peter Hammond’s creation succeeded was that the series never really tried to explain the concept behind its plots. Sapphire and Steel arrived ghost-like from no where and Time simply did what it did. The only clue the viewer got was from Sapphire in Adventure One, when she used the metaphor of Time being like a corridor, walled by thinning...
Published on 2 Sep 2003 by K. Davidson

versus
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars At long last....
I have (along with other fans I'm sure) waited a long time to get hold of these adventures of the weird duo. The adventures have been deleted for a long time, and this is the first re-release for ages. The 1st three adventures are great for depth of story. Two people (Sapphire & Steel) arrive in the middle of a 'scene', before anything really weird happens (They are given...
Published on 27 Aug 2002 by NickW


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cult classic that withstands the passage of time, 2 Sep 2003
By 
K. Davidson (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sapphire And Steel: Assignments 1-3 (Box Set) [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
Perhaps the reason that Peter Hammond’s creation succeeded was that the series never really tried to explain the concept behind its plots. Sapphire and Steel arrived ghost-like from no where and Time simply did what it did. The only clue the viewer got was from Sapphire in Adventure One, when she used the metaphor of Time being like a corridor, walled by thinning fabric. This at least warned us that this series was not going to rely on the ideas of H. G. Wells for its concept of time. Instead, Hammond perceived of Time as a sentient malevolent entity, with the title characters assigned to keep that force from spilling into the corridor, consuming the space - and us - within.
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. When watching I never put the light on, because I knew that with it off the atmosphere would be that bit more electrifying.
Nowadays, I can see why my parents found it too frightening for themselves but would let me watch it. Sapphire and Steel would often describe what was seen, rather than what was happening. This protected the young naïve viewer but implicitly telegraphed what was going on to the older viewer who would intellectually struggle to make sense of it. This telegraphing is what appeals to me about the programme nowadays. The programmes ideas have genuinely horrific qualities - it can take an object we think we know, and challenge this understanding by making the object seem malevolent. This idea then grows over the episodes, brooding on our imagination.
Perhaps it is just as well that my parents never saw Adventure Two. While its predecessor had child characters and nursery rhymes, its sequel had little that a worried parent would give the benefit of doubt to. A disused railway station had become a recruiting ground for the dead, and the companion-like character was a sad old ghost-hunter. While Time in story one was physically represented by lights, here it was a plague-like darkness spreading out from shadows; consuming everything. Worse still, the resolution to the story demonstrated just how clinical Steel could be. While there were never any cosy denunciations or big bang solutions to Sapphire and Steel stories, this one was the most chilling.
Adventure three had people from a future time coming back to the present to investigate what life was like in the 1980’s. Their invisible time capsule was furbished with products from that by-gone time. However, the by-products of dead animals were attacking these people with a mix of hallucinatory and physical attacks. It transpired that Time had let the mental energy of these animals exact revenge on a generation who had exploited their various species to extinction.
Perhaps the subject matters of such a series are too controversial for today’s television producers. In the six stories that formed Sapphire and Steel, children are the enemy in A4, eating meat will most certainly kill you in A3 (without the aid of BSE), while Steel, the hero, has a horrifyingly heartless method of resolving the crisis in A2. Innovative yes, but not safe, never stereo-typical, and always pitched higher than the average programmes intelligence threshold. What programmes made today, "innovative" or otherwise, can claim to be all those?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The UK's Most Innovative 'Sci-Fi' series, 19 Oct 2002
This review is from: Sapphire And Steel: Assignments 1-3 (Box Set) [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
After languishing in the backwaters of grainy VHS for several years, one of the UK's most innovative shows finally comes to DVD...
Sapphire & Steel starred David McCullum (The Great Escape, Man From Uncle) and Joanna Lumley (The New Avengers, Absolutely Fabulous) who played two non-human detectives sent from an unseen higher intelligence to investigate breaks in the fabric of time on Earth.
It already sounds like the creator PJ Hammond was on acid when he first conceived this series, but the idea apparently came to him during time he spent in a haunted house. Throughout the series, just a few cryptic hints were given as to what Sapphire & Steel actually were. It was a neat little plot device that fuelled the imagination.
The series was commissioned by a commercial TV network in the UK whose normal output was cheap games shows and other brain dead programming, and was designed as ITV's answer to the BBC's long running sci-fi series Dr Who.
Sapphire & Steel contained complex theories and amazing amounts of imagination on the part of its creator and not surprisingly, audiences were confused and dumbfounded when the show began a four-year run in 1979. In many ways, the audience reaction was similar to that of The Prisoner some 10 years earlier on the same channel.
Relying more heavily on suspense, dialogue and sparsely lit sets than special effects, the series managed to create a unique sense of menace. Each episode would begin with a disembodied voice against a background of stars telling the viewer 'all irregularities will be handled by the forces controlling each dimension - Sapphire & Steel have been assigned.'
A show as ambitious and subversive as this could have been a complete disaster had it not been down to the unique on screen chemistry between actors David McCallum and the stunningly beautiful Joanna Lumely.
Steel was cold and not content unless he was in complete control showing little concern for the human victims, whilst Sapphire conveyed compassion and was fully aware of her sensuality.
The breaks in time that formed the source of the investigations, would often be caused by entities or creatures from alternative dimensions and though some were not evil in the simplistic manner that regularly befalls most drama of this genre (Trek etc), the entities very presence was simply enough to threaten time in the dimension where Earth exists. Steel's lack of empathy for humanity was evident every time the duo were assigned to Earth, whilst Sapphire seemed to enjoy interaction with simplistic humans. Both actors were superb in playing non-human leads, and you really got an impression that the characters were from somewhere else other than this reality.
Despite having abilities such as telepathy and being able to move time backwards briefly, the characters were not superhuman such as Star Trek's Q for example. There was some hard bargaining to be done with the entities and some sacrifices were made. In the second assignment, the 'detectives' are sent to investigate a haunted, disused railway station. A parasitic entity known as The Darkness is feeding from the resentment of dead World War 1 soldiers, and it provides an epic eight-part story with superb direction that never fails to retain the interest of the viewer. Viewed late at the night, this atmospheric tale still manages to send a chill down the spine. The series contained no cosy answers or heart-warming endings, just relentless menace and a fear of the darkness.
Despite Kim Newman's above review that gives the impression that the series lacks the gloss of other ITC shows and is difficult to sit through, Sapphire & Steel has higher production standards than many of the Dr Who episodes made during this time, and to anyone who prefers character driven TV that doesn't rely on simplistic plots or quick editing, Sapphire & Steel is the 'I Claudius' of TV Sci-Fi.
Finally, much has been said about the picture quality of the DVD's but given the poor condition of some of the master tapes themselves (reportedly damaged during transmission), the overall image sharpness is very welcome compared to the VHS copies. Whilst nowhere near as good as the Dr Who DVD presentations, episodes of Sapphire & Steel are comparable to the recent BlackAdder DVDs.
Some of the problems are partly due to how the series was filmed with darkly lit sets that highlights blur effects on moving objects. Despite some picture flaws, the series still deserves a five star rating whilst the DVD presentation would just be worth three. Younger viewers may bemoan the lack of flashy CGI effects and vampires.
Their loss.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rivetting, creepy, time travel tales, 24 Feb 2003
By 
Adam "Say something about yourself!" (Dunton, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It's been a pleasure revisiting this series. Yes, it's studio bound and severely budget limited, and this means that performances and stories have to compensate, which they most definitely do.
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Along the corridors of time..., 20 Nov 2002
With a princly sum of £30 in gift vouchers I scoured the shelves, reticent to add yet another volume of yet another sci-fi series to my already overgrown collection. Then I saw it and immediately thought "must have". It would be well worth the extra tenner (retail price £39.99) to watch this series which has eluded gracing our screens since it's initial airing. I mean I can recall the duo, snippets and immages, but did I remember any of the plots? Not likely! I didn't understand them twenty odd years ago. But then we've been subjected to much more sci-fi in recent years and the conundrum of "understanding" the intricasies of time-lines and time-engineering/manipulation is much more plain to most of us nowadays. So yes, I was now well bated to give this series another go.
So I took home my pack of twenty 25min episodes (three assignments of six, eight and six episodes respectively and sat down to watch. Have they managed to get audio 5.1 out of this? er.. no! Not even bog-standard stereo! This offering is strictly MONO! Ahem! But no, not as bad as it might appear as the audio recording quality was as good as radio 4 on a clear day, with rich deep tones. The picture processing is a bit soft but clearly digitised for optimum quality.
The creepy atmosphere is definately still there and the episodes are still riviting. And the story lines seemed to stand the dating of those twenty-odd years without too much effort especially considering the tiny cast used in shooting. My only criticism is that Carlton have decided to issue the lot as separate episodes, each with its title and end sequence (coupled with the same title sequence as introduction to each of the three disks' menus) which, when you recall that the first opening 2 minutes of each episode is a review of the previous episode's closing sequence, you find yourself doing an awful lot of fast-forwarding to continue the story. I, personally would have preferred each assignment presented in it's entirity.
But did I enjoy? YES! Definitely! Maybe it will prove to be purley nostalgic for those of us who can recall the first airing of the series, but if you like broody sci-fi, and are not looking for something which is too scientifically and technically correct, then this old-timer still has a lot to offer the newcomer. There's a kind of pre-dated X-Files about it and we're never quite sure of how much we trust the characters but this only adds to the intigue.
I have already dropped a few hint for Christmas about the second boxed set and have suitably booked holiday time to spend a few late nights saturated with assignments 4-6!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dated yet still Brilliant., 3 Aug 2003
By 
Mr. P. Tanner "paultanner2" - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Sapphire and Steel is, in my opinion, one of the best acted productions ever to come into public view. Lumley and McCallum are masterful in their roles, even in the face of some dodgy f/x.
The stories, all based around the theft of time, are well written and despite being firmly in the realm of fantasy are all quite logical and don't lose the viewer. The pace may not be as attention grabbing as modern drama, but on the whole this is much better than 95% of the viewing we get today.
For those old enough to remember the series when it was on TV I would recommend it highly, nostalga, nostalga. For those younger I would only recommend it if you really do enjoy a story rather than an experience that leaves nothing to the imagination.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Years ahead of it's time., 20 Mar 2004
This review is from: Sapphire And Steel: Assignments 1-3 (Box Set) [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
I remember watching 'Sapphire & Steel' as a youngster, and I also remember that it scared the **** out of me! Now that I'm older & have had the chance to watch these classic episodes again, I might not be frightened by them anymore, but I still thoroughly enjoyed them nonetheless.
It seems strange to me that the BBC have never repeated this series, other than a couple of the episodes of the second series after it was curtailed initially due to legal problems or some such thing. Almost everyone I know remembers this as a classic, so I couldn't wait to get the dvd's when I found it was released. I wasn't disappointed at all & the only slight problem I have is that the acting can, at times, be a little over the top, but thanks to all these shows from the 70's being released on dvd recently I've noticed that was very much the thing during that period. And although it's a little off-putting, it doesn't really take anything away from this program. The atmosphere & storylines are too good to be put off by anything really.
This show really was streets ahead of it's time & even if it'd been written now it wouldn't be out of place alongside the current crop of sci-fi/supernatural shows.
A must have!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun series to watch!, 11 Nov 2002
This review is from: Sapphire And Steel: Assignments 1-3 (Box Set) [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
I never got the opportunity to see the series when it was originally aired since I live in the U.S., I couldn't wait to get the DVD's for the first 3 Assignments. Even though this series is over 20 years old, it is still great to watch, mysterious, scary and addicting. You start with Assignment 1 and watch the entire assignment from beginning to end! Assignment 1 introduces you to the characters Sapphire, Steel and Lead. You get to witness their abilities. Assignment 2 has the feel of a stage play. In Assignment 2, David McCallum as Steel shows the abilities of his character. He shows his influence over Sapphire as well as his feelings for her. You also get to witness David McCallum's acting abilities as well as his singing abilities. Assignment 3, all the actors show their abilities as pantomimes. They also introduce the character Silver and the tension between Steel and Silver in regards to their affections toward Sapphire. The added features are disappointing. Would have been nice if they interviewed the actors, writers and producers. It also would have been nice if they had the behind the scenes materials, bloopers, etc. Picture quality is very good (I watched it on a 27" television) audio is softer than usual (I had to adjust it constantly.) Nevertheless, I can't wait to watch Assignments 4 - 6!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars At long last...., 27 Aug 2002
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Sapphire And Steel: Assignments 1-3 (Box Set) [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
I have (along with other fans I'm sure) waited a long time to get hold of these adventures of the weird duo. The adventures have been deleted for a long time, and this is the first re-release for ages. The 1st three adventures are great for depth of story. Two people (Sapphire & Steel) arrive in the middle of a 'scene', before anything really weird happens (They are given the 'mission' before it starts). They use 'Time' and Good Vs Evil (give & take) to solve 'the problem'. Very atmospheric and thought provoking : but don't expect explosions, guns, violence, or lots of running about ; That's for the gung-ho sci-fi fans !
The downsides are few (DVD quality), but they do exist unfortunatly. First the picture quality is not so good in the dark area of the scenes (quite a few of them!) : Colour trails and less frames seem to be the problem (maybe the originals were not recorded onto a quality media to start with).
The sound is ok (for the time & cost per episode), but the extras are thin : Just text biographies, and story explanations, with a few (slightly pointless) stills on one disc.
Overall, I love these stories, and recommend them to a fan, although for the price, it would have been nice to have better quality extras (interviews/out-takes) & picture.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sapphire and steel: memories vs reality!, 1 Dec 2002
By 
Mrs. G. M. Armstrong "Gyn" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I watched these as a child, and they are no less enthralling now! The special effects are a little less spectacular than I remember, but I imagine that's because the technology wasn't up to modern SFX. The stories make only a little more sense...I still get that it's about protecting frail, stupid humanity from evil thingies that might break through rifts in the space time continuum, and that Sapphire and Steel are representations of the elements sent to do the job, along with other mineral colleagues that drop in to assist occasionally, but the combination of Joanna Lumley in long dresses and David Macullam in anything is well worth watching again.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic tv., 20 Mar 2004
My childhood memories of this show neglected to remind me that this show actually ended. And by that I mean ended properly. I was amazed by the very last assignment of this dvd, I really didn't see it coming. I can only imagine that the show was stopped due to it's being so far ahead of it's time. There really was nothing like it around on British tv at the time. It's such a shame because if it'd caught on like 'Dr Who' I could have seen it running for decades & what a huge shame it didn't.
This is how I remember Joanna Lumley, all mystical & mysterious & David McCallum, mimicking his on screen name by literally being as cold & heartless as steel. I still get a kick out of how mean he is to people at times!
Wonderful, classic sci-fi.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Sapphire And Steel: Assignments 1-3 (Box Set) [DVD] [1979]
Used & New from: £6.49
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews