Customer Review

23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb vintage TV, 18 Nov. 2011
This review is from: Mystery And Imagination - The Complete Series (All the remaining episodes) [DVD] [1966] (DVD)
A good few years before the BBC began its seminal "Ghost Story for Christmas" series, ITV were merrily knocking out supernatural classics in ABC's "Mystery and Imagination" series. Dramatising works by the likes of J. S. LeFanu, Bram Stoker, Mrs Oliphant and of course M.R. James, this series provided a rich mix of chilling classics. This lovely little box set brings together all the surviving episodes (only 8, sadly), comprising two from the ABC series and a further six from a little later on when Thames TV took over the production.

The Thames episodes feature higher production values and faster pacing and direction, although the earlier ABC episodes have their charm. Particularly tantalising is the inclusion of the surviving three minutes of M.R. James's "Casting the Runes", which seems a faithful and well made adapatation. What a pity so many of these ABC episodes are now lost.

The stand out for me was "Uncle Silas", featuring a brilliantly demented performance of the title character by Robert Eddison, in which he is mostly filmed from below for a more forbidding effect. It also brilliantly uses locations to enhance the production. Bram Stoker's "Dracula" was perhaps a little ambitious for the producers, who sensibly scaled it down to concentrate on the central part of the novel. Nevertheless, this one seems to have something missing. "Frankenstein" is faithful and thought provoking, and very well acted throughout.

Moving into colour, Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Suicide Club", along with "Sweeney Todd" have some new elements injected in to great effect. "The Curse of the Mummy", also filmed a few years earlier by Hammer, suffers from its studio bound production, feeling more like a play than a TV film, but still well done all round.

This is superbly packaged set. It is dated now, though the later Thames episodes seem much less dated than the ABC ones, particularly the colour ones. There's a lot to enjoy though, well made throughout and a wonderful idea for a TV series to put together classic stories along a similar theme (see also Thames TV's The Rivals Of Sherlock Holmes for more in this vein from this powerhouse of 70s British TV).
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Location: UK

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