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The Owl Service - The Complete Series [DVD] 
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All eight episodes of the late-sixties TV series about a girl, holidaying with her family in a remote Welsh valley, who stumbles upon ancient magical forces. Alison (Gillian Hills), along with step-brother Roger (Francis Wallis), are spending a few weeks of the summer in Wales, at a house formerly owned by Alison's late father. After discovering a set of dinner plates in the attic, Alison traces the plates' flower pattern onto paper, discovering that they fold in turn into owls. Soon, the house starts to reveal hidden secrets, compelling Alison to experience an ancient legend brought back to life.
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Top Customer Reviews
I saw Alan Garner lecture at a course in South Wales in the 1990s and was impressed by the way he talked about his works. Both he and his books are of great interest. He has an interest family and background and his books tell quite fascinating stories. The Owl Service particularly blends both the present (of the time production, though dated now) and the ancient past, reality and legend. That the drama was produced in North Wales and on the Wirral is nice since I live in that part of the world myself. I was in my late teens when I read the novel, in my early adulthood when I watched the TV drama and now in middle age seeing the TV drama in DVD form. And in all three periods the story continues to haunt. Today it is less scary than it was originally but nevertheless haunting and memorable.
An aside is that the Stone of Gronw was made special for the series and set up by a river. Years later in the different valley in North Wales a stone with a hole cut through it was found in a river by archaeologists.
I'm glad to say that the passing of time has not diminished the slightly off-kilter atmosphere of this classic series. Unlike much of "children's TV drama" these days, "The Owl Service" keeps you off-balance and intrigued as to what's actually going on.
This is an intensely claustrophobic story of relationships within a very English (step) family and the staff of their holiday home. Set in an oppressive Welsh valley it focuses specifically on the experiences and tensions between three teenagers who are forced to relive an ancient "mythical" conflict. Using a tale from "The Mabinogion" as the basis for the conflict it explores the difficulty of growing up and dealing with attraction, jealousy, alienation, the pressures of family, responsibility and even national identity but places it all within a subtly creepy supernatural setting.
The acting may now seem slightly stilted and the patronising "Granada-enforced" recaps do somewhat spoil the deliberate ambiguity of certain events but the meaning and power of the story has survived intact and "The Owl Service" provides some of the most "adult" children's TV you will ever have the good fortune to see.
edit: A special honourable mention must be paid to Roger's shorts :)
There's a welcome little booklet with the double dvd, and a superb period interview with its much underrated writer, Alan Garner, in the extras. Kudos to network for bothering to include these items.
I thought the original film grading could have been much improved - lots of underexposed / overexposed scenes that could have been recovered with modern digital processing - maybe this is part of the charm for some though. And it's not PC - slightly too much flesh is shown for the weather conditions. Depth and breadth is what you get if you look past these flaws though.
Trivia - the father/stepfather played by Edwin Richfield is also the very annoyed government minister in Quatermass and the Pit (took me a couple of nights to remember where I'd seen him last.)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The whole cast are perfect, they couldn't have picked better. My fave character was Roger played by Francis Wallis, generous and humble for all his wealth. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Jane
Be warned that Alan Garner doesn’t go in for conventional story-telling and by the looks of it the director of this series didn’t go in for conventional film-making either. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Ulrome
What a gem this is, its hard to say what the target audience is/was, I thought the name was a group name for the friends until I watched and it was explained as a dinner service... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is a curious series, which is not always easy to understand. There are clearly levels within the storytelling, not least the clear hints at emerging sexuality within the... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Ian Scales
Spooky, intriguing, pacey, intelligent, brilliantly acted and with a complex story. It's aged very well and the plot is so dense (for a children's programme) that it deserves a... Read morePublished 20 months ago by MS
I loved this, it seems very esoteric! But I love the offbeat not the sanitised.Deals with primal urges in a mythological way. It seems more adult - I am a pensioner!Published 20 months ago by Rose Green
Haven't watched much of it yet but very glad to have the chance to see the series after 45 years. A gem which probably wouldn't be commissioned today.Published 21 months ago by bigfoot