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VINE VOICEon 24 February 2003
It's been a pleasure revisiting this series. Yes, it's studio bound and severely budget limited, and this means that performances and stories have to compensate, which they most definitely do.
At a time when Dr Who was degenerating into pantomime farce, this series is a darker, more eerie twist on the time travel theme.
The duo are agents of a vaguely defined authority who are called to intervene in situations where 'time breaks through.' Time is here a malevolent force, seeking to undo life and creation bound within its laws.
In the first episode a literally faceless character uses photographs to move around and imprison people in the photographic world. There they share the fate of whatever happens to the photo', and in one chilling scene, the 'man who wasn't there'disposes of characters trapped in a photo by setting it alight. This is a chilling, nightmarish moment, typical of the jolts the series can deliver. The atmospheric location (junk shop in this case) is also typical of the series.
The second assignment concerns the machinations of time in taking advantage of a 1930's period dress party to turn the clock back and change history so a terrible plague, averted in real time, occurs. This assignment is adveresely affected by 'padding' (the string of 'whodunnit' murders seem almost superfluous) being 6 instead of 4 episodes in length, but still builds to an effective denoument.
The third assignment brings the series to an abrupt close, with an ending that pulls the rug out from under you, and haunted this reviewer during a sleepless night. It leaves you wishing the writers rescued the pair for a further series, but alas...
The pairing of Mcallum and Lumley is inspired. An understated, effective, fire and ice performance.
Having seen these tales, Ive ordered the first lot. Recommended.
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on 20 November 2002
With a princly sum of £30 in gift vouchers I scoured the shelves, reticent to add yet another volume of yet another sci-fi series to my already overgrown collection. Then I saw it and immediately thought "must have". It would be well worth the extra tenner (retail price £39.99) to watch this series which has eluded gracing our screens since it's initial airing. I mean I can recall the duo, snippets and immages, but did I remember any of the plots? Not likely! I didn't understand them twenty odd years ago. But then we've been subjected to much more sci-fi in recent years and the conundrum of "understanding" the intricasies of time-lines and time-engineering/manipulation is much more plain to most of us nowadays. So yes, I was now well bated to give this series another go.
So I took home my pack of twenty 25min episodes (three assignments of six, eight and six episodes respectively and sat down to watch. Have they managed to get audio 5.1 out of this? er.. no! Not even bog-standard stereo! This offering is strictly MONO! Ahem! But no, not as bad as it might appear as the audio recording quality was as good as radio 4 on a clear day, with rich deep tones. The picture processing is a bit soft but clearly digitised for optimum quality.
The creepy atmosphere is definately still there and the episodes are still riviting. And the story lines seemed to stand the dating of those twenty-odd years without too much effort especially considering the tiny cast used in shooting. My only criticism is that Carlton have decided to issue the lot as separate episodes, each with its title and end sequence (coupled with the same title sequence as introduction to each of the three disks' menus) which, when you recall that the first opening 2 minutes of each episode is a review of the previous episode's closing sequence, you find yourself doing an awful lot of fast-forwarding to continue the story. I, personally would have preferred each assignment presented in it's entirity.
But did I enjoy? YES! Definitely! Maybe it will prove to be purley nostalgic for those of us who can recall the first airing of the series, but if you like broody sci-fi, and are not looking for something which is too scientifically and technically correct, then this old-timer still has a lot to offer the newcomer. There's a kind of pre-dated X-Files about it and we're never quite sure of how much we trust the characters but this only adds to the intigue.
I have already dropped a few hint for Christmas about the second boxed set and have suitably booked holiday time to spend a few late nights saturated with assignments 4-6!
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on 14 February 2014
Dark and original scifi/horror - sort of Nigel Kneale meets Doctor Who but really just Sapphire and Steel resisting such comparisons - this really is as good as I remember it and then some. McCallum and Lumley are quite brilliant as the titular whatever they are. Recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 3 August 2003
Sapphire and Steel is, in my opinion, one of the best acted productions ever to come into public view. Lumley and McCallum are masterful in their roles, even in the face of some dodgy f/x.
The stories, all based around the theft of time, are well written and despite being firmly in the realm of fantasy are all quite logical and don't lose the viewer. The pace may not be as attention grabbing as modern drama, but on the whole this is much better than 95% of the viewing we get today.
For those old enough to remember the series when it was on TV I would recommend it highly, nostalga, nostalga. For those younger I would only recommend it if you really do enjoy a story rather than an experience that leaves nothing to the imagination.
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on 20 March 2004
I remember watching 'Sapphire & Steel' as a youngster, and I also remember that it scared the **** out of me! Now that I'm older & have had the chance to watch these classic episodes again, I might not be frightened by them anymore, but I still thoroughly enjoyed them nonetheless.
It seems strange to me that the BBC have never repeated this series, other than a couple of the episodes of the second series after it was curtailed initially due to legal problems or some such thing. Almost everyone I know remembers this as a classic, so I couldn't wait to get the dvd's when I found it was released. I wasn't disappointed at all & the only slight problem I have is that the acting can, at times, be a little over the top, but thanks to all these shows from the 70's being released on dvd recently I've noticed that was very much the thing during that period. And although it's a little off-putting, it doesn't really take anything away from this program. The atmosphere & storylines are too good to be put off by anything really.
This show really was streets ahead of it's time & even if it'd been written now it wouldn't be out of place alongside the current crop of sci-fi/supernatural shows.
A must have!
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on 11 November 2002
I never got the opportunity to see the series when it was originally aired since I live in the U.S., I couldn't wait to get the DVD's for the first 3 Assignments. Even though this series is over 20 years old, it is still great to watch, mysterious, scary and addicting. You start with Assignment 1 and watch the entire assignment from beginning to end! Assignment 1 introduces you to the characters Sapphire, Steel and Lead. You get to witness their abilities. Assignment 2 has the feel of a stage play. In Assignment 2, David McCallum as Steel shows the abilities of his character. He shows his influence over Sapphire as well as his feelings for her. You also get to witness David McCallum's acting abilities as well as his singing abilities. Assignment 3, all the actors show their abilities as pantomimes. They also introduce the character Silver and the tension between Steel and Silver in regards to their affections toward Sapphire. The added features are disappointing. Would have been nice if they interviewed the actors, writers and producers. It also would have been nice if they had the behind the scenes materials, bloopers, etc. Picture quality is very good (I watched it on a 27" television) audio is softer than usual (I had to adjust it constantly.) Nevertheless, I can't wait to watch Assignments 4 - 6!
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on 27 August 2002
I have (along with other fans I'm sure) waited a long time to get hold of these adventures of the weird duo. The adventures have been deleted for a long time, and this is the first re-release for ages. The 1st three adventures are great for depth of story. Two people (Sapphire & Steel) arrive in the middle of a 'scene', before anything really weird happens (They are given the 'mission' before it starts). They use 'Time' and Good Vs Evil (give & take) to solve 'the problem'. Very atmospheric and thought provoking : but don't expect explosions, guns, violence, or lots of running about ; That's for the gung-ho sci-fi fans !
The downsides are few (DVD quality), but they do exist unfortunatly. First the picture quality is not so good in the dark area of the scenes (quite a few of them!) : Colour trails and less frames seem to be the problem (maybe the originals were not recorded onto a quality media to start with).
The sound is ok (for the time & cost per episode), but the extras are thin : Just text biographies, and story explanations, with a few (slightly pointless) stills on one disc.
Overall, I love these stories, and recommend them to a fan, although for the price, it would have been nice to have better quality extras (interviews/out-takes) & picture.
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on 1 December 2002
I watched these as a child, and they are no less enthralling now! The special effects are a little less spectacular than I remember, but I imagine that's because the technology wasn't up to modern SFX. The stories make only a little more sense...I still get that it's about protecting frail, stupid humanity from evil thingies that might break through rifts in the space time continuum, and that Sapphire and Steel are representations of the elements sent to do the job, along with other mineral colleagues that drop in to assist occasionally, but the combination of Joanna Lumley in long dresses and David Macullam in anything is well worth watching again.
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on 20 March 2004
My childhood memories of this show neglected to remind me that this show actually ended. And by that I mean ended properly. I was amazed by the very last assignment of this dvd, I really didn't see it coming. I can only imagine that the show was stopped due to it's being so far ahead of it's time. There really was nothing like it around on British tv at the time. It's such a shame because if it'd caught on like 'Dr Who' I could have seen it running for decades & what a huge shame it didn't.
This is how I remember Joanna Lumley, all mystical & mysterious & David McCallum, mimicking his on screen name by literally being as cold & heartless as steel. I still get a kick out of how mean he is to people at times!
Wonderful, classic sci-fi.
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on 15 February 2003
It's tricky to know what to say about this. It left a huge invisible cartoon-like question mark above my head when I watched it as a young lad, and now as a grown up fellow, it's still there. That's not a bad thing of course, it's good to have to work on things. Who were Sapphire and Steel? I've absolutely no idea at all! Kind of supernatural trouble shooters. The enemy? Time. The concept of time being a molevolant being. Sounds weird? It is. BUT...it is also completely brilliant! It has such an unnerving vibe to it and at times is still very scary. The story that is about a deserted railway station is not one to watch with the lights off. It seems strange to think this was on at 7.30 on a weekday evening on ITV. It just would not get made these days, which is a shame as it is excellent and odd. Joanna Lumley and David McCullum are ideal as the lead roles and work off each other beautifully. Creepy and very entertaining. The second box set is just as good too!
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