Top critical review
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Recommended - with reservations
on 17 April 2010
It's many years since I read Alan Garner's books, and I had never seen the Granada television series before, so I was pleased to find that it was available. On the whole I enjoyed the series, but for several reasons I've only rated it as 3 stars.
Firstly, I did not feel that Alan Garner sucessfully translated his book into a screenplay - or perhaps it was that the director/producer Peter Plummer was not able to adequately realise Garner's screenplay. The story is certainly intended to have an elusive, mystical quality, but the screenplay overdoes this to the point that essential information on which the narrative depends is omitted.
To compensate for this lack of detail in the story, episodes 2-7 each begin with a short recap of the preceeding events. In these recaps we are also given information (often vital to understanding the plot) that simply wasn't shown in the earlier episodes.
It could be that this was intentional so that the series could be appreciated both by viewers who had previously read the book, and by those who had not. If this is the case it was not a good idea, and the show suffers. It is also possible that after the series had been edited it was felt that the story was simply too disjointed for broadcast in its original form, and so the short recaps were edited in to clarify the plot.
Secondly, the acting is variable, particularly from the three teenage leads who are in most of the scenes, but it is no worse than might be expected. The production is pretty good for a TV series of the time, although the print is starting to look a little faded. The sound quality is also variable with dialogue very hard to make out in some scenes.
Overall I'd recommend the series to people, particularly adult viewers, who have read the book *recently*. In this case you'll probably judge it to be a successful and atmospheric treatment of the story. If, however, you have never read the book you will probably find the pacing and need for explanatory "recaps" to be clumsy and intrusive.