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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Immortal children's television series,
This review is from: Catweazle: Series 1 - Episodes 1-3 [VHS]  (VHS Tape)"Catweazle" is one of the few children's television series that deserve the epithet "classic". That is to say, the original series filmed in 1969 and starring Geoffrey Bayldon and Robin Davies was. The follow-up series a year later with a completely different cast and setting (apart from Geoffrey Bayldon as Catweazle) was somewhat disappointing by comparison.
This first series sees Catweazle (Geoffrey Bayldon), an incompetent 11th century wizard on the run from the Normans, travelling forward in time as the result of a flying spell that goes wrong. He finds himself at a remote farmhouse in the mid-20th century and is befriended by a boy called Carrot (Robin Davies) who is glad of the companionship of what he regards as an eccentric, but harmless, old man.
Catweazle takes everything he encounters in the 20th century as magic (electricity is, to him, "electrikery") and he regards his young companion as a great sorcerer. The stories in this series are as funny and original as they were when the series first aired, with Catweazle constantly saved from the various scrapes he gets himself into by Carrot. He constantly attempts to work a spell to take himself back to his own time but his spells always end in failure ("nothing works!" he frequently exclaims) while Carrot considers his claims to come from the past as "potty".
This is a series in which everything came together to create a classic: a witty, intelligent script by Richard Carpenter and perfect performances by Geoffrey Bayldon, Robin Davies, Charles 'Bud' Tingwell and Neil McCarthy, as well as a distinguished cast of extras. The series has aged well and only very occasionally does it seem dated. "Catweazle" makes a welcome change from some of the crass, dumbed-down programming sometimes inflicted on the children of today.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Catweazle scores again!,
This review is from: Catweazle - 40th Anniversary Edition [DVD] (DVD)I bought this out of nostalgic curiosity and was immediately transported back to being a teenager in the 1970's on running the introductory title cartoon scenes. This is a lovely innocent series which I watched with my eight year old who was equally entranced by the novely of a man in the Norman era arriving in modern times. Quirky, good theme, some very funny moments. Seeing a light bulb for the first time etc. The Sun in a bottle indeed.
The many hours of entertainment I anticipate are well worth the thirty quid.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Catweazle come back and hang out with me!,
Sadly in the second series Catweazle leaves Carrot and Sam and Carrot's Dad and their ramshackle farm for good and he has a whole new group of people to interact with in a large stately home. In the second series we have some great performances from old stalwarts such as Elspeth Gray and Petter Butterworth and there are as many if not more comic moments than in the first series. However there is a glaring weakness in series 2 namely Cedric, who is the boy Catweazle meets and who isn't a patch on Carrot in terms of likeability. The poor kid goes around in very ill fitting clothes and looks like the love child of Ben Stiller and Woody Allen if you can imagine such a horrible thing. He also cannot act at all well. I don't know if the producers knew he was a dud but Catweazle spends most of series 2 on his own without Cedric. When Catweazle leaves for a second time you are left not caring about Cedric so much and that is a shame.
The open ended finale of series 2 also disappoints - what exactly does become of Catweazle?
But on the whole these 2 series are so wonderfully representative of the genius of writer Richard Carpenter and of a golden summer and a bygone age - would that they could make children's TV, or any TV, half as good as this now.
46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolute Perfection.,
This review is from: Catweazle - 40th Anniversary Edition [DVD] (DVD)This series really is extra special.
As a child in 1970, I was enchanted and hipnotised by this wonderful program. And when, after so many years, it was issued on video, and later dvd, I was so happy to see that time had done nothing to diminish its status. No rose-tinted glasses needed for this one!
Geoffrey Bayldon is simply wonderful as the eponymous Catweazle, and the supporting cast are A1.
This release is made all the more poiniant by the sad death in the last few weeks, of Robin Davies who starred alongside Geoffrey as Carrot. Such a nice man. Also, I believe Charles Tingwell has died, so the next time I watch the show will be a much sadder occasion.
This box set really is worth buying as it contains one of the most perfect children's series ever made.
There are a few more special features added to this new set.
* Limited edition packaging
* Exclusive postcards
* Brand-new 40th anniversary introduction to the series by Geoffrey Bayldon
* Brothers in Magic - Geoffrey Bayldon and Robin Davies are reunited after thirty years, at the Hexwood Farm location, to reminisce about the filming of Catweazle
* Commentaries with Richard Carpenter, Geoffrey Bayldon, Joy Whitby and Robin Davies
* Anglia News - Richard Carpenter interview, from 1970
* Extensive image gallery including behind the scenes and many previously unseen
* Merchandise image gallery
* PDF material including merchandise, magazines, annuals and scripts for all episodes, including an unfilmed episode, The Horned Dragon
* Commemorative Booklet
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'A Return To Innocent Kids Entertainment',
Watching these programmes again I've found, is just as magical an experience as an adult as it was as a child. With so much violence and hatred in the world these days and so many of kids favourite programmes full of violence and fighting (Power Rangers, Transformers etc) it is so lovely to sit and watch something that is gentle and reliant on nothing but a great storyline and a kids immagination. Geoffrey is beyond brilliant as the out of time inept magician and his reactions when confronted by modern technology like electric light are so real and incredibly funny. This DVD box set is also a must for fans with a computer because included here on cdrom are files of the Catweazle annuals from the early 70's plus loads of other interesting extras like original scripts and covers from magazines at the time such as 'Look In' all of which, bring memories flooding back if you are my age. Every episode ever made is here and you will enjoy watching this again as much as your kids will enjoy watching it for the first time. Return to innocence..BUY THIS!
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time Traveller I never forgot,
And it is definitely not Wurzle Gummage... which was something else altogether.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Salmay, Dalmay, Adonnay!,
This review is from: Catweazle - 40th Anniversary Edition [DVD] (DVD)This set - and indeed the whole of Catweazle are an absolute delight.
It is far from being a single anachronism joke - the innocence and child like wonder of Bayldons brilliantly acted character are timeless. There are elements of nostalgia (if you saw it first time 'round) - but because it's so character driven it would work now! There have been so many fish out of water comedies made since then, that it's important to remember when this frankly magical series was made and aired.
It's a matter for discussion, though, whether or not it could be made now - it is from one perspective 'Young lad befriends homeless mad bloke and they behave in an antisocial way'. The world was not so mean back then.
If you're in need of some hilarity, with total innocence, great acting, you'd be hard pressed to find anything to beat this. Even the theme tune is ticklish.
PS - I hope that wherever (and whenever) he is now, Catweazle is finding equally marvellous adventures to join in with.
The Lazy Robot
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Electrickery!,
This review is from: Catweazle - 40th Anniversary Edition [DVD] (DVD)Written by actor/writer Richard Carpenter, this is possibly the finest children's TV series ever made. Although billed as a children's series, the series proved to be equally popular with all generations. Originally broadcast in early 1970, the series enjoyed huge popularity (and is still held in high esteem by many). Directed by Quentin Lawrence, both the production team and cast members alike displayed a full understanding of the warmth and charm of the story.
The directing is wonderfully subtle, and the characters are lovely creations. Geoffrey Bayldon was perfectly cast as Catweazle, and throws everything into his superstitious and nervy character. In fact, the entire casting was faultless, and the performances are nicely understated. The regular cast includes the quitely-spoken Robin Davies who plays young farmer's son Carrot, along with Australian actor Charles Tingwell and Neil McCarthy, while the guest stars are also excellent.
This is the story of "Catweazle" an 11th century magician living in a cave with his "Familiar" - a toad called Touchwood. Set around the time of the Norman invasion, Catweazle finds himself being pursued by a group of Norman soldiers, upon reaching a lake he tries to fly away with the help of a few of his magic words, leaping into the air while flapping his arms, he promptly lands in the water.
When he resurfaces he finds himself standing in a small pond in a farmers field, instead of flying through the air he has flown through time - 900 years into the future at the end of the 1960's. Deciding to hide in a nearby barn which stands in a dilapidated turkey farm, he is eventually discovered by a young farmer's son, Carrot.
Here begins the start of their friendship, with Carrot continually helping to shield Catweazle from a world beyond his comprehension. Catweazle eventually takes refuge in a disused old water tower which he quickly names "Castle Saburac".
When Catweazle comes across modern appliances they appear to be powered by "magic" - electricity is "electrickery" and a telephone is a "telling bone" (remember the old-fashioned telephone receivers?) just a couple of amusing terms that Catweazle uses.
Catweazle's natural curiosity leads him into various escapades which Carrot always manages to extricate him from. Other characters in the story include Carrot's father, Mr. Bennett (Charles Tingwell) who is sometimes bemused and suspicious of Carrot's behaviour, Sam Woodyard (Neil McCarthy) is the rather dim but lovable farmhand, who sometimes finds himself inadvertantly involved in Carrot and Catweazle's escapades without ever realising it.
The ending is a moving and fitting climax to a warm, magical and charming story.
The series appears to have been shot on film rather than videotape, and this merely adds to the wonderful atmosphere of the series.
The phenomenal success of the series led to a follow-up which unfortunately for me was a different kettle of fish altogether. With the majority of the first series production team having moved on, the second series was broadcast the following year. I remember as an 11 year old when this was first broadcast, I settled down to watch and then felt so disappointed - no Carrot, no Sam Woodyard, no Mr. Bennett, no Hexwood Farm, all to be replaced by the more opulent surroundings of a stately home.
With the son of the house, Cedric (played by Gary Warren - IMO a poor actor whose Cedric character is far less appealing than Robin Davies' Carrot) befriending Catweazle on his return, all the charm and magical atmosphere of the first series is gone. A more slapstick approach replaces the more subtle and gentle humour that made the original so appealing.
Perhaps if I had never seen the first series I may have enjoyed the follow-up a little, but the bar had been set so high that it was perhaps inevitable that anything less than the 1st series would be a disappointment. The 5 stars I have awarded are for the first series only, which remains one of the highpoints in family/children's TV history.
The best of the extras is a reunion of Robin Davies and Geoffrey Bayldon at the farm, 30 years after the series was made.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 1st series pure magic. 2nd series less so.,
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This review is from: Catweazle - 40th Anniversary Edition [DVD] (DVD)Like other reviewers I remembered this series from the times when I saw it on TV as a MUCH younger man. Even then I was 25 and still enjoyed it. This was (and still is) very much a series for children and adults.
Could it be as good as I my memory said it was?
Wouldn't it be let down by poor visual effects and shaky sets?
Were the 1st and 2nd series as good as each other?
The answers, in order, proved to be a resounding "YES" and "NO" and, unfortunately, another "NO".
The 1st season was and is a joy. In every sense of the word it's pure magic. Geofrrey Bayldon as Catweazle gives a performance to rival anything ever seen on Childrens' television - and on much of adults' television come to that. Every gesture, hiss and expression is wonderful and judged to perfection.
The way in which everything that we take for granted seems mysterious and magical to Catweazle can only make you look at the world in a different way. Take as examples the 'sun in a bottle' and 'the magic telling bone'. Both are lyrical descriptions which nevertheless contain elements of fact - light bulbs are, in their way, suns in bottles, and old-style telephones did resemble bones from which speech could be heard. Cars are chariots, planes are great metal flying birds, electricity is electrickery and windows are solid air. An old abandoned water tank becomes a castle and is adopted by Catweazle as his home.
As for visual effects - you don't need them and, indeed, they would be irrelevant because the whole joy of the scripts and the series is that Catweazle isn't truly a magician esxcept for the time when he sent himself forward 900 years into the future in episode 1.
Whenever his spells work, it's usually because of coincidence. For example - a local retired colonel has a pet monkey called 'Boy'. When Catweazle is angered by his young friend he casts a spell to change his shape. When he then encounters the monkey and hears him referred to as 'Boy' he jumps to the obvious wrong conclusion. That whole episode of swapped or mistaken identities is worked out perfectly.
Not enough credit is given to the quality of Richard Carpenter's scripts. They play on every possible misinterpretation and re-interpretation of everyday words and objects from the 20th century and modern ways of life. Just as Bayldon's performance is so good, so too are Carpenters writing. The combination of the two make this entire series .... do I need to say it again? .... pure magic.
This is a series that children today would benefit from seeing. Just as JK Rowling re-introduced so many to the joys of reading and using their imaginations, so Carpenter's scripts bring to life the cleverness and richness of well-used words and sideways slanting views of ordinary things in a world which, to Catweazle, seems to be built upon magic.
But now we come to the 2nd series.
Apart from Catweazle, the entire cast and locations change. Now, Catweazle's friend is 'Owlface' played in a very 'actorly' way by Gary Warren. There is none of the gentle innocence of 'Carrot' from the 1st series. Warren's acting seems very mannered and (to be frank) amateur, affected and unbelievable. That wouldn't really matter, but the other characters of a foppish Lord and his air-headed Lady and the move towards slapstick humour in a series of staged one-off stories is very disappointing and distracting when compared to the much more interesting backdrop of the farm in Series One.
I know Catweazle as a character and a storyline is fantasy, but everything in the 2nd series seems very contrived and strained. Only the skill and continuity of Geoffrey Bayldon's acting holds everything together.
So, very unusually for me, I felt that I needed to edit my original 5 star critique and knock off a star because of the disappointment and weaknesses of the second series.
The 5th 'Bonus' DVD is no more than a set of stills and some pdf files that can be accessed by computer. The best 'Extra' is to be found at the end of Series One where Catweazle and Carrot are reunited at the farm to talk with great affection about the time when they made the series.
Oh yes - and it's not many sets of DVD's that come in a case AND in a sack!!!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Catweazle Series 2 (Vol3) - Classic Childrens TV of 1970s,
This review is from: Catweazle: Series 2, Volume 3 - Episodes 7-9 [VHS]  (VHS Tape)Catweazle was undoubtably one of the best children's television series of my childhood, which compares it with stuff like the 'Tomorrow People', 'Follyfoot', and 'Black Beauty' in terms of age.
They made 2 series in 1969/1970, which were transmitted in early 1970 and 1971 respectively. Both starred Geoffrey Bayldon as our whiskered hero, who has travelled 900 years forward in time to the late 20th century, finding a very different world to the one which he left behind.
This video was from Series 2, which has Catweazle joined by young Cedric, son of Lord collingfood. This second series also features carry on star "Peter Buutterworth' as the hapless butler, Groom. During the course of the 13 episodes, they are searching for the 13 signs of the zodiac, as Catweazle seeks to be able to fly! They have fun and adventures along the way.
This video features 3 episodes, 'The Enchanted King', 'The Familiar Spirit' and 'The Ghost Hunters'. The Ghost Hunters in my opinion is the best as Catweazle takes on a pair of conmen who are trying to outwit Cedrics parents, who mistakenly believe their home to be haunted.
An excellent series, which in the days of multi channel TV, should have been repeated many more times. My son enjoys watching the videos (he loves words like elec-trickery and Catweazle's pronounciation of words such as watter), and I am sure many others would, as most of the stories in the total of 26 episodes stand the test of time well.
In short, Classic TV!
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Catweazle - 40th Anniversary Edition [DVD] by Geoffrey Bayldon (DVD - 2010)