Customer Review

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Batman and Robin In Plain Clothes, 21 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: City/Secret Beneath the Sea - The Complete Series [DVD] (DVD)
These two childrens' serials are to some extent a "follow on" to the Pathfinders In Space" ones. In particular, Gerald Flood and Stewart Guidotti, who had played Conway Henderson and Geoffrey Wedgewood, reappear as scientist Mark Bannerman and teenager Peter Blake. Peter Williams (Professor Wedgewood) also appears occasionally as a Navy Captain.

However, I have to say that they don't impress me as much as they did in Pathfinders, though I don't think it's really their fault. They do their best with the parts, but something has definitely been lost, something which I can best describe as "context".

As Henderson and Geoff, they formed part of a larger scheme of things in belonging to the ship's company. Geoff's role, in particular, had a distinct "coming of age" element . Though only about 14, he is considered a full member of it, with responsibilities as radio operator, etc. Treated as a an adult and expected to be one, he rises to the occasion, showing himself prepared to take even unwelcome orders, and in the crisis, when there "aren't enough seats in the lifeboat" he is ready to face death along with the older members of the crew. Though Peter is also brave and resourceful, I feel the loss of this background diminishes his part.

Bannerman too seems a somewhat lesser figure than Henderson, caught up in events rather than a central part of them Removed from that wider context, he and Peter become just a sort of "dynamic duo", rather like a plain clothes version of Batman and Robin.

This impression is reinforced by the nature of the opposition. There is none of the ambivalence, the mixture of good and evil, that we got with Harcourt Brown. Professor Ziebrucken is a comic strip villain, at times reminding me a bit of The Joker and other such figures in the Batman comics. At one point he quite needlessly sentences Peter to death (losing important allies as a result) for no reason except (it would seem) to make it clear that he's the baddie. This seems uncalled for. Not only was Brown not like that, but PiS managed to be an exciting adventure with no human villain at all in the usual sense.

Perhaps, so soon after WW2, it was predictable that the bad guy would be a German (though Harcourt Brown wasn't) but he didn't need to be such a caricature of one. Captain Swendler, also a German, was far more nuanced, with a mixture of good and bad. I suppose it's a bit late now, but I can't help feeling it would have been a better story with Swendler as the villain, making him a sort of "Captain Nemo" figure.

Perhaps I'm being a bit hard on something that was, after all, made for kids, not old fogeys of 64. I don't remember noticing these defects when I watched it at 14, so I've allowed three stars. Yet so was Pathfinders, and that was done far better.

The second serial, Secret Beneath the Sea represents if anything an even further decline. That crooked director, and even more his "hired gun" - who comes over like a refugee from an Eling Comedy - are even hammier (if possible) than Ziebrucken. As Hurree Jamset Ram Singh of happy memory might once have expressed it "The hammyness is absolutely terrific". I especially regret that Kapitan Swendler, about the best character of City, disappears from Secret after the opening chapters. He could have improved it.

Peter's role also declines. In Secret, he comes over as the classic "schoolboy who gets unjustly accused". He's working now as a photographer, but at times his camera seems more central to the plot than he does.

One possibly significant point. For the first two thirds of Secret I was under the impression that I had never seen it. Then in the last couple of chapters I began seeing incidents that rang a bell. Now it could be that for some reason I never got to watch the earlier episodes, but, with six decades experience of how my memory works, I suspect that I saw the whole serial - and my mind just didn't bother to retain it. If so, my subconscious knew what it was doing.

I understand from the series guides that these childrens serials were largely discontinued after Secret. Given the distinct downward trend after Pathfinders, perhaps it was just as well.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in

Review Details



Location: peterborough, cambs england

Top Reviewer Ranking: 18,469