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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Format: DVD|Change
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on 2 June 2014
The Changes is finally being released on home video, and I'm beyond thrilled! Over the last decade, I've become a giant fan of British children's television from the '70s and '80s. Their depth and strangeness are so refreshing compared to the shallow, streamlined family entertainment that is all too popular these days.

I'm an American who grew up in the '90s, but I've always loved television sci fi and fantasy, especially older shows like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. It wasn't until my adult life that I discovered Children of the Stones, and I couldn't resist finding more programs just like it!

The Changes happens to be one of the best examples of pretty much everything that made children's shows so wonderful all those years ago in England: a weird, scary premise (Suddenly everyone is filled with violent rage against modern technology.), diverse characters (The lead is a wonderfully resilient young woman, and, during her journey, she meets a variety of fascinating people.), a continuing story that works as a coherent whole with exciting cliffhangers along the way (I wouldn't dare spoil the surprises!), gritty twists that challenge the audience with tough questions about us and our future (What role should technology play in our lives? What are the different ways people respond to catastrophic events?), and a generous helping of local history and legend (I wouldn't dare spoil this part either!).

This production undoubtedly shows its age, but that adds to the charm! The viewer is transported back to the '70s and catches a glimpse of urban and rural life of the day. Also, the writing is way ahead of its time, giving the story a solid beginning, middle, and end; it's ambitious, perfectly focused, and unrelenting in its suspense.

If you've never seen The Changes, if you like science fiction and fantasy, and if you can appreciate what others might consider a diamond in the rough, please give this a look. It's a masterpiece!
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on 26 August 2014
I pre-ordered this series as soon as I discovered BFI were releasing it. I remember watching this, aged 12, when it was originally broadcast, in 1975. I imagine like many others, I had been waiting for a DVD issue of it for many years.

So, when it arrived, I watched every episode in one sitting. It is a remarkable series, with more insight and foresight into issues of environment and race than is found in many adult dramas, even today. At a time when white actors were "blacking up" in series such as "It Ain't Half Hot Mum," to play Asian characters, with producers failing to find roles for real Asian actors, "The Changes" proves how blinkered this attitude was. The Sikh family group are shown as positive characters; they are the ones who listen to other opinions before making decisions and are keen to co-operate with the villagers. They are also seen as kind and welcoming and wanting positive role models for their children.

The environmental issues around the fear of machines and pollution are relevant today, highlighting constantly the need for balance between humans living in harmony and the need for progress. The series, adapted from Peter Dickinson's books, was years, if not decades, ahead of its time.

As far as the DVD goes, BFI have included an excellent, 28-page, booklet on the making of the series. However, as collectors and fans of classic TV have been waiting a long time for this series, the extras are virtually non-existent, just including a short film about Asians adapting to life in Britain and stills galleries. Also, although I am not someone who thinks everything should be HD and pristine - classic TV should retain some of the look of when it was made - nothing at all has been done to clean up the print; this series would definitely have benefited from this.

It is just wonderful, though, to finally have this classic series available on DVD. It is one that, because of the depth of the themes in the story, bears repeated viewing. Many thanks to BFI for releasing it and the many classic BBC TV series that they have released over the last couple of years (M.R. James stories, etc.). I look forward to the original "1984" in November and hope for releases of "The Long Chase" and "Chinese Puzzle," both of which still exist in complete form.

I cannot recommend "The Changes" highly enough; finally a thank-you to Amazon, who e-mailed me on 25/08 to tell me they were delivering the DVD on that day (Bank Holiday!). They also e-mailed me the same afternoon to say that the DVD had been posted through my letterbox. Great service.
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on 1 February 2015
Another purchase bought for nostalgias sake. Paid off handsomely this time and easily gets a five star review.
The acting is great, the theme and incidental music is impressive and the story is intelligent and thought provoking.
Great transfer to DVD, with an interesting extra and sold at a very reasonable price.
Kids drama from the 70's that beats today's tosh hands down.
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A two disc dvd set, which contains all ten episodes of the Changes. A well remembered bbc children's tv drama from 1975. Which was an adaptation of a trilogy of books by writer Peter Dickinson.

All the episodes run for twenty five minutes [approx].

The Changes considers the advance of technology and humanity's relationship with, and dependence on the stuff. And what might happen without it.

All of which comes about rather suddenly. When there's strange weather, and a strange noise, which leads to people smashing machines, in the belief that they are evil. When the noise stops, people lose that feeling.

This is all seen through the eyes of schoolgirl Nicky Gore. Separated from her parents when they join crowds of people trying to get to France, she falls in with a group of Sikhs. But in the new world that has resulted from this, some view them as 'the Devil's children.'

Even worse awaits at the hands of a witch-finder. Can Nicky survive? And what just has caused all this to happen?...

This is one of those tv shows that is very well remembered by those who saw it at the time, and has a reputation which has endured as a result. The picture quality doesn't seem to have been restored, but it's still perfectly watchable, the film just looking a bit grainy during one visual sequence in part ten.

If you remember it well, and have been waiting to see it again for years, then this is going to be a release that will more than satisfy you. If you fit into that category, this is a five star release.

If not, then what might you find?

A show that's a bit of a hybrid, seemmingly on the border between cosy children's tv of old and more grown up dramas. Like Survivors, or the grimmer and more realistic children's dramas that have followed.

It's a show that doesn't quite get going till the midway point. The directing and the pacing take a little getting used to early on. All the actors speak in a way which makes it sound as if they've been dubbed. And although the scenes of people under the grip of the noise are unsettling, the moments when they aren't can be gently paced and lacking menace.

There is one rather staged fight scene that doesn't quite convince, also. Because it seems to be trying to be something suitable for children's tv.

The aforementioned witch finder pops up just before the midway point, and from then on the pacing feels fine. And the level of threat is there. Said character is a superbly three dimensional creation with very believable motivations. But such a fanatic as to be highly annoying.

Although a couple of characters introduced at the same time do have good character arcs with satisfying pay offs.

From this point on it feels like a children's adventure show of the kind they used to make. And becomes a pretty good watch.

So: Five stars for those with good memories. Four stars for new recruits to the programme. But all in all an interesting bit of classic tv, and worth a look.

The dvd has the following language and subtitle options:

Languages: English.

Subtitles; English.

There are a couple of extras.

Disc two has a stills gallery of images from the show.

Disc one has At Home In Britain. A thirty two minute long film made by the central office of information [eight years after the changes] which details the lifes and beliefs of three Indian men who moved to Britain. One Hindu. One Muslim. And one Sikhs. If you don't know anything about those three faiths, then this will teach you a lot. So it is quite a fascinating watch.
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on 30 March 2015
Brilliant ... bloody brilliant. Great acting by the young Victoria Williams. Good story and definitely capable of giving people (young and old) nightmares. Also a very good AV transfer. I haven't seen the booklet though as I rented the series from lovefilm

You couldn't make something like it now as the PC brigade would suck the life out of it because it might scare the children.
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on 24 January 2016
The first and second episode is absolutely fantastic (very scary) but the stories seem to tail off a bit as the series progresses. The programme music score is excellent throughout and it also has a great cast. Lots of content so it will take a while to watch the whole series. Beautifully filmed too. It is classic 1970s TV.
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on 6 March 2016
I remember watching the first episode of this on TV when I was 5. I was absolutely terrified - which is kind of funny now, since all they really do is smash up a toaster and a few Austin Maxis. However, it wasn't the machine breaking that scared me so much as the sudden change in the collective mind that drove the people of Bristol to break stuff. It was a great premise, and although the opening scenes could have been better, what's great about The Changes is that you have no idea where the story will take you next.

There must have been something in the air (or the water) in the UK back then. Genuinely unsettling vibes from The Changes are roughly contemporary with classics like The Stone Tape [DVD] [1972], The Ice House (from Ghost Stories for Christmas (Expanded 6-Disc Collection Box Set) [DVD]) and things never got as weird as this afterwards. I'd put money on Threads (1984) [DVD] as having been heavily influenced by The Changes. It's just a shame that Chocky got adapted for TV after the trendies moved in and not when true oddness still ruled.

Good points - beautifully presented DVD set with intelligent and informative booklet accompanying it. Kids' TV from a time when deep issues were dealt with head on. This deals with mass hysteria, Grange Hill dealt with Class A drug addiction. Happy days!

Not so good points. Some of the acting is fairly bad. Also the whole thing lacks any sense of philosophy or allegory underpinning it. The Changes had the potential to be up there with THE MOUSE & HIS CHILD,Preep, the Little Pigeon of Trafalgar Square. Illustrated by Dale Maxey or even Riddley Walker.
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on 8 November 2015
The Changes wasn't all as I remember it. Even though I remember the opening titles with the old type train on the track I could remember all of the programme. Since having the DVD It is strange about how we remember something bu still get reminded from somekind of source like a dvd or it might be an image say. It depends what you want to recall from a sudden memory of that you may recall. I can get sudden onset of anything that even though maybe normal but not all is. I hate it when its something horrid. There is some well graphic desctruction, its supposed to be an apocalypse. Children of today might have there eyes wide open with a programme like this so be wise if you get this for like a 10 year old. Todays' kids ought to realise what kids tv was like back then, but not everything should be seen like some things they put out for them now is bad. I don't regret the purchase.
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on 11 July 2014
I was 6 when this was first shown on TV and it scared me so much, I didn't see it all until a repeat on UK Gold many, many years later. In places it is quite chilling, and it is a shame that this kind of brave television is no longer made.
I would also check out the novel, as it goes much deeper into how the UK falls into a feudal system. If you like Quatermass and any of Nigel Kneale's genius, this is for you.
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on 30 August 2014
...that the BBC has programmes of this quality in its archives and yet where are they on its four TV channels? Overpaid presenters, inane continuity announcers and children's presenters and endless dross fill the schedules. Thank you BFI for making available (at reasonable prices and with thoughtful extras) this superlative drama (not just children's programme, although I seem to recall that it was transmitted around the 4.30 - 5.00pm slot (like Chocky).

The reviews already published here give an accurate assessment of the standard of the series. It's always great to have a detailed booklet to accompany these releases.

The last few years have seen the release of some great programmes from BFI and Network (The Owl Service, Muck and Brass, Adrian Mole and A Very Peculiar Practice from Network) in particular and I look forward to 1984 and Red Shift from BFI.

To be fair to the BBC, they did eventually rush out a bare bones Colin's Sandwich at an inflated price to cash in on/commemorate Mel Smith's passing.
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