16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
25-minute chunks of 70s goodness,
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This review is from: Shadows - The Complete First Series [Series One]  [DVD] (DVD)
This is a series of one-off supernatural dramas. It's very low-budget and very innocent, made in 1975 by Thames Television. Each episode has the old TT clip at the start (and the intrusive Fremantle one at the end!).
Ironically, there is almost no point talking about the episodes individually. They are so simple and small-scale that there isn't much to say. But I mean this as praise. They are delightful little things; 25-minute chunks of drama. Each one sets up a situation very effectively with attention paid to time, place and people, and then plays with it a little. It's delightful to watch. And of course if you don't like an episode, it's over very soon!
The standard line is that 70s drama was "slow and talky", but I found "Shadows" very engaging. It's a kids' show, and the makers get down to business quickly. And they do it well. In every case, I was more drawn into the story than I generally am with "Tales of the Unexpected". TOTU always feels a little disposable, as if each episode is a puzzle to be cracked and, once cracked, there's little point watching it again. The story is rather a cold mechanism. "Shadows" on the other hand feels very warm. There's a real sense of wonder, curiosity, possibility.
Another thing commonly said of modern drama is that it has more character depth. Again I think this is mistaken. In modern dramas, the characters seem to talk constantly about themselves (and their damned emotions). In "Shadows", characters speak about the story and, in doing so, reveal themselves naturally. And because they're talking about the story, you're thinking about it. This is how drama should be done!
Other people have commented on the lack of effects and CGI, and how old TV dramas managed to do without these things. It's true. "Shadows" is technically primitive, and all the more enjoyable for it! The episodes make a virtue of setting. (The sets for "After School" and "The Waiting Room" are especially atmospheric.)
Another reviewer said that the stories are too simplistic and benign to be of interest to modern kids. I tend to think this speaks in the stories' favour.
Sometimes the mysteries are not completely solved, which can be unsatisfying. For example "The Waiting Room" doesn't make total sense, feeling rather like the first half of a story. I'm not sure if these episodes were intended as possible pilots - it seems unlikely but it would explain why we never learn why events are repeating themselves at the station, or what is actually happening in the episode "Optical Illusion".
So the 25-minute length is both a strength and a weakness. But either way, the stories all succeed in their modest aims.
Special mention should go to Gareth Thomas's hilarious cameo in the episode "After School". He plays the most pedantic, patronising and unnecessarily rude schoolteacher you've ever seen in a red tracksuit with white stripes.
The one exception to everything I've written above is the episode "Dutch Schlitz's Shoes". It feels like a different programme altogether. The tone is comical, surreal and whimsical, and I didn't like it. Perhaps kids like nonsensical stuff (an aristocrat who wears a skeleton costume!) but I just find it irritating. This is the episode to avoid!
But for the rest, this is a charming series. Sadly series 2 isn't nearly as good. I'm hoping series 3 will be a return to form.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 1 Oct 2011 15:16:11 BDT
Bernard P. Dunne says:
The reason 'Dutch Schlitz's Shoes' feels different is that it's a spin off from the 'Ace of Wands' serial 'Seven Serpents Sulphur and Salt' played by the Russell (Callan) Hunter who was in the original, later there was a Dramarama episode 'Mr. Stabs' with Stabs been played by Del-boy David Jason
Posted on 19 Mar 2013 08:52:13 GMT
Ken Raus says:
A greta revue,very,very good.
In reply to an earlier post on 20 Oct 2013 12:16:57 BDT
Patrick Fitzgerald says:
Thank you very much, Mr Raus!
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