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VINE VOICEon 8 June 2010
This was a favourite of mine as a child/pre-teen when it was first broadcast. I have always remembered its unusual sensibility (although I wouldn't have called it that at the time!) and the fact that it evoked some fairly intense emotions in me. What I didn't remember - and what I have just rediscovered after watching it for the first time in more than two decades - was just how high-brow and intelligent the whole thing was without being pretentious. The series explores adult themes such as the nature of reality, the nature of the self, concepts of discarnate entities and morality and self-control and, more obliquely, adults' fears of pubescence and pubescents' feelings of alienation. This is weighty stuff and comes as a stark reminder of how utterly banal and low-aiming most children's programmes of today are. Actually, I hesitate to categorize Chocky under 'Kids' TV'. It deserves a far wider audience than that. And in terms of acting, script, direction and atmosphere it knocks the socks off most adult TV drama series of today, anyway! And, sure, many of today's children and teens weaned on a junk-TV diet of Hannah Montana, High School Musical, Suite Life... et al might be a bit nonplussed by the thoughtful, unhurried pace of Chocky, its unflashy, rather dour mise-en-scene and its philosophical musings. But that's all the more reason to expose them to it. Where else, exactly, are they going to get such gravitas from today's schedules? Besides which, much of Matthew's wardrobe seems to have been modelled on my own from the 80s! (Which leads me to believe, ahem, that I was dead fashionable in retrospect!)
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on 17 June 2005
It is always with a bit of trepidation that I approach the film or tv version of a book I liked, wondering whether it will come over so well on the screen. "Chocky", I am glad to say, is one that did and does.
I first read it not long after it was written, and always liked it. Its theme, which has seen quite a bit of use both before and since, is that of "first contact" with an alien being made by a child. 12-year-old Matthew Gore starts hearing "voices" from an alien life form, and the rest of the book is largely his and his adoptive parents' attempts to come to terms with the phenomenon.
The characters, though perhaps better educated than the average, are basically a pretty ordinary lot, and are completely bewildered by what is going on. Matthew's mother, in particular, takes a very good part as she is driven almost hysterical in her attempts to deal with what is happening to her son, and one of my regrets aboout the sequels is that she did not appear in them. The father manages to stay a bit calmer, and gradually comes to accept that Chocky is real and not a psychiatric phenomenon, but he too is as out of his depth as one might expect in such a situation. As for Matthew himself, to my mind he looks and acts a bit younger than his supposed age, coming over more like a bright ten-year-old, but then his original was a 1950s (or at most early 1960s) twelve-year-old, not a 1980s one, so perhaps the makers of the serial were being true to their source.
In this they were consistent. The serial sticks very closely to the book, which means that it is all very low key and "cosy", with almost no melodrama until we get to the kidnapping at the end, and even that is played down, without violence or much sense that Matthew is in danger - though the parents are convincing as they worry about their missing child. Otherwise, the focus is how matthew's involvement with Chocky impinges on his otherwise pretty normal sort of life, with his teachers raising their eyebrows about the sudden enhancement of his academic and artistic performance.
All in all, the was a good read, and the serial is a good view. If you like it unpretentious and enjoyable, grab this dvd.
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on 16 July 2003
I was only 6 years old in 1984 when this series first aired but remember really enjoying at the time. It's often a mistake returning to a show you loved as a kid as they rarely live up to how you remember them. With this in mind, I was really pleased and surprised that 19 years on, and apart from being slightly dated, I found it very enjoyable indeed. I was especially impressed with the performance of the young lead (Matthew) and of the late James Hazledean (Matthew's father). It's an intelligent and thoughtful series and certainly does not speak down to it's audience. It certainly hits home how children's TV has fallen from grace in the last decade. If you enjoyed this series 19 years ago i don't think you will be disappointed. If you haven't seen it before, then I recommend it. Especially John Wyndham fans.
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on 4 September 2007
i think the programme was so fare ahead of its time
and shows how aliens would veiw us i think its great i have the whole collection i just wanted to let peaple know if your thinking of geting it please do
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on 16 January 2015
Very enjoyable and well made adaption of John Wyndam's classic Sci-Fi book.
The acting is very good as is the pace of the story, there's really nothing to complain about here, an all round great production.
The days of this level of quality in childrens television are sadly long gone.
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on 25 November 2014
Not a patch on the book, but a brilliant piece of television. This is as watchable to me today in my late 30s as it was when I was a child. It's actually pretty creepy in places and would never be allowed today! I would highly recommend this to anyone who remembers it, or anyone who enjoys Wyndham adaptations, such as Village of the Damned (The Midwich Cuckoos) or Day of the Triffids.
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on 2 September 2015
Took a chance on this 1982 6 parter. Andrew ellams as mathew is first class.james hazeldine and carol drinkwater are superb as his parents. I loved the ideas in this, and it was watched in one sitting. This sits alongside the greats for me....parts 2 and 3 are on the postways as i write...the john wyndham classic..chocky.
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on 18 September 2015
Described as a "very 1950s-styled novel", not surprising at it was first published in 1963.
The TV series jarred with me as I had read the book, certain contemporary references crow-barred into the story didn't add anything.
Worth a watch if you can't be bothered to read it.
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on 21 March 2016
Very good TV show gave me bad nightmares as a kid some 30 years ago bit frightening in places don't think they could get away with it today
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on 6 January 2005
This programme really does scrape the bottom of the barrel. What I hate most about it is how unrecognisable the character of Chocky herself is from the original novel/series. In that first story, it's established at the end that she has to leave Matthew and never openly communicate with children again as she foolishly miscalculated the greed of humans and placed Matthew in great danger. In "Chocky's Children" - the not-so-bad second story, it's neatly explained that she's learned from her previous mistake and is now carefully, but very silently guiding Albertine and other children around the world with their development. Just like at the end of the first book, you are left with the feeling that it will be quite a few generations before her work is complete and mankind "discovers" cosmic energy.
This third instalment destroys all that subtlety. In the first episode alone, Chocky has casually forgotten her previous mistakes and is openly communicating with Albertine who, just like Matthew in the first story, gives the impression of talking to herself. Albertine is, in turn, quite openly bragging about the cosmic energy and anti-gravity that she's going to discover and giving lectures about it at the age of 13 - while her father, who was previously (and quite rightly) fiercely protective of her, now doesn't bat an eyelid at the attention she's drawing toward herself from the kind of unscrupulous baddies who kidnapped her and Matthew in the previous tales. The episode ends with Albertine being quite rightly ridiculed by a panel of University Professors in her search for a grant, only for Chocky to magically reveal herself to them and save the day! Subtle it ain't...
Later on, it just gets stupider. More children (who can't act) turn up and start moving tables, boats and blowing up computers with their minds and building futuristic technology with just a few microchips and bits of plastic and metal. They build one "generator" that gets stolen then trust "Mrs Gibson" - a complete stranger who just turns up claiming to from the Ministry Of Science and gives them money to build a second one. They do this and then leave it overnight at the risk of getting stolen all over again. Paul, the super-child turns out to be the son of Doctor Liddle and, er, it doesn't make one bit of difference to the plot. "Mrs Gibson" reveals herself to be NOT who she claimed and gets kicked out by everyone (didn't anyone think to check her credentials when she first appeared?) yet Super-Paul AND Chocky(!) are both stupid enough to get easily kidnapped by her less than one minute later. What's really creepy is the fact that the Ministry Of Defence quite happily store away a futuristic pyramid containing a 12 year old boy and don't seem to spare a thought for feeding him and keeping him alive!?
Things reach a nadir in the final episode when the children decide to send their minds across space to search for Chocky's "parent" to help them out. Luckily for them, back in the first episode, Chocky got Albertine to trample over some poor scientists radio telescope work and locate signals from her race. No reason was given for this at the time other than to make Chocky "so happy" and have a bit of a giggle (I swear I'm not making this up - she literally giggles) but now, thanks to the knowledge of where the planet is located, they easily summon up Chocky's "parent" (after some some bad 80s special effects..) who locates the missing two and the day is saved. In the very final scene, you see Chocky plus parent go flying off back into space. What I'd like to have seen added on is a bit where parent kicks Chocky around for causing the whole mess in the first place! Haven't these aliens even heard of the Prime Directive, lol???
This programme is truly bad and it's hard to believe that the same team who created the excellent adaptation of the original novel could produce such drivel. Am I being unfair to a 20 year old kids programme? No, not really, as I thought it was bad when I saw it the first time round at the age of 13!
One more final niggle. Why is Matthew even featured on the cover or in the title sequence. He only appears as nothing more than a cameo in three of the episodes!
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