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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 3 December 2014
At 50 quid this is expensive, and the sets and special effects are laughable at times, yet this is thought provoking and intelligent drama unlikely to be seen again. There isn't the emphasis on violence that's inherent in modern sci fi, with the pace being languid at times.That's all part of the charm. As a younger man I was very into science fiction but gradually lost interest. This DVD brought back to me why I found it so enjoyable. Some of the episodes stand up very well and could be remade to incorporate modern technology and design because the stories are timeless.
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on 4 December 2014
I can remember in the days before video recorders, rushing to get to the TV to watch this series. It was compulsive viewing and the quality of the drama was excellent. Sadly, only 20 episodes of the original 49 remain in existence but what's left plus a lot of extra material has been placed on discs by the BFI. I was able to relive my teenager years.
Really great stuff! Authors from the golden age of science fiction!
The drama is very professional and what a delight it is to see episodes not constrained to the format of TV advertising. There's only one problem if you purchase this set… You will watch one after the other until the late hours. It's addictive.
Well done the BFI for bringing this out.
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on 10 December 2014
Once again the BFI have done a superb job of releasing a much anticipated classic TV series. The pinnacle of 60s/70s BBC scifi, this series boasted amazing stories, fantastic acting and high production values. The sets are impressive and imaginative, and of course there's a little bit of reassuring Crossroads-style wobble here and there.

The stories are by a range of respected authors, and are intelligent and thought provoking. They stand on their own merits, and even viewers who are totally unmoved by scifi material will find much to enjoy.

Like so many TV programmes from this era, many episodes were wiped. Less than half remain, but that still adds up to some 20 to enjoy. Picture quality is generally good, and some restoration work has been undertaken.

The documentary 'Return of the Unknown' includes some tantalising clips from otherwise lost episodes. The third series, an early colour production, exists in just one and a half episodes. The half episode (The Little Black Bag) can still be enjoyed, and the producers have done a good job at creating the last few seconds which are frustratingly missing. This package feels like a real labour of love.

The fourth series features contemporary ghost and psychological tales, the former wouldn't have been out of place on that other great anthology series, Dead of Night.

Thus package contains television of the very highest quality. Enjoyable, thrilling, fascinating and amusing, this is simply superb.
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on 14 January 2015
Excellent BBC sci-fi anthology series. The black and white episodes feel quite like the early Dr Who serials, albeit written for an adult audience. Later episodes are more in the style of Tales of the Unexpected. Superb restoration work on the old film recordings. Nice box presentation with informative booklet and DVD documentary.
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on 30 January 2015
Masterful series. It's so rare to see real science fiction on TV, but to have filmed adaptations of works by JG Ballard, Isaac Asimov, Frederich Pohl, John Wyndam, and others is just a dream. I'm so glad BFI put this set out; I only wish that there more episodes had survived! But I'll take these wonderful episodes all the same.
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on 26 December 2014
I remember watching these when they were first broadcast on BBC2, and being riveted by every single episode. This series was groundbreaking in many ways, not least because it adapted stories by known SF authors (such as Kornbluth, Brunner, Simak and Asimov, to name only a few) as well as original scripts, and is quite simply the best of television SF, of any time. When I heard that the BFI was releasing this box set, it went straight to the top of my "must-have" list, and should for anyone who's serious about their SF.

Although there are only 20 episodes still extant, including one incomplete (The Little Black Bag) and four reconstructions, these have been expertly restored by the BFI, and are still fine examples of the genre. It is an almost criminal oversight on the BBC's part that so many episodes have been lost to their "re-use" of VT policy, but I'm thankful that at least some survive.

The set includes an excellent new documentary "Return of the Unknown" which also features some rare clips from lost episodes, and members of the production team discussing the scope and legacy of the series, and is accompanied by a substantial and informative booklet which truly enhances the whole set.

I can't overstate how much of an impact this series made when it was first broadcast, it was TV to stay in for, and if you are serious about SF, this box set *HAS* to be part of your collection. Thank you BFI for rescuing and restoring these gems.
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on 6 July 2015
It's good to see this classic series again, and a great pity that so many of the episodes are missing; let's hope they turn up at some point, the recent recovery of more lost "Doctor Who" stories giving cause for optimism. Like The Outer Limits it's a fairly eclectic mix, and a lot might depend on whether you prefer the stories with a contemporary Earth setting, as I do, to those which take place on other planets in the far (or not so far) future. Some are political thrillers with, arguably, no science-fiction elements at all, some rather ghost stories, some space Westerns after a fashion, and some "science gone mad" parables. It does however lack TOL's optimism; don't watch it if you're feeling down! For the most part it's moody, bleak, scary (love the original theme music, before it was rejigged) and dysfunctional in its portrayal of Man's attempts to push forward - often, it must be said, in inappropriate ways - the frontiers of science. It's also intelligent science fiction/drama which explores some interesting themes (or interesting variations on old themes, as in "Some Lapse Of Time"). It improves considerably towards the end of its run, even if it seems at times to be more interested in psychological horror on the lines of Tales Of The Unexpected (I could have done without "Deathday", the only episode which for me didn't really work) than science fiction as such.
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on 21 January 2015
Very refreshing to see a story slowly unfold. also refreshing in that it shows that a good science fiction story doesn't need amazing special effects.
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on 15 August 2015
If you are old enough to remember watching this series then I am sure you will want to buy this set. Although many episodes are missing and some are only avaialble as reconstructions, for what there is, the picture and sound quality are good for the time.There are good extras and a well-written informative book. Altogether a good package albeit a little dear by usual standards.

If you have never heard of this series then it was a ground-breaking experiment in bringing intelligent science fiction to the small screen. The stories were adapted from short stories by the great golden age writers (Asimov, Simak, Wyndham, Ballard etc); with good scripts, acting and direction.
Nevertheless, modern audiences may be dissappointed. These productions - particularly the early ones - have that shaky scenery quality that 60's BBC was famous for. The adaptations are largely studio bound with the occasional filmed insert. The script relies on good ideas and clever dialogue rather than action, thrills or special effects. There is no CGI here.

For me, this was a nostalgic experience - this was one of the first programmes we watched on our new 625-line telly. I find the productions hold up well and are quite engrossing. There is something about the mood and atmosphere of Series 1-3 that is quite eerie. I find Series 4 less interesting since the subject changes to the supernatural rather than Science Fiction and the productions, although now in colour, have a lot in common with similar fare around at the time or later (e.g. Journey to the Unknown). Interestingly though younger people tend to prefer Series 4 to the earlier ones. It has certainly aged a lot better.

So, in short, an absolute must for buffs of early TV or "golden age" science fiction but a specialist taste for younger audiences.
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on 20 November 2015
I was glued to the antique B&W TV with it's lo-def 405 lines as a terrified 10 year old in 1965 when this great series was first transmitted, many of the tales were lodged deep in my memory, this chance to revisit those experiences is a treat. Very good quality video, my only moan is over the shortsightedness of the BBC by wiping some masters so they could save a couple of quid on the videotape budget, the best of the series, 'Andover and the Android' is missing, those that do remain are all good.but it is such a disappointment to find so many in the series did not survive.
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