Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Tripods

Smell the Movies
Smell the TV

Transmitted:September 1984 - November 1985
Country of origin:UK
Genre:British sci-fi, Alien invasion, Low budget sci-fi
Starring:John Shackley, Jim Baker, Ceri Seel
No. of seasons:2

Fondly remembered children's science fiction series from the early eighties.
Based on the novels of John Christopher, this was a BBC production.

The premise:
100 years in the future, the Earth has been overtaken by giant machines: Tripods.
Mankind barely survives, thrown back to medieval times in terms of technology and, with The Tripods controlling the population through some form of hybridisation technology, it seems nothing can stop the tri-pegged nightmares.
When a pair of unlikely sorts decide to rebel against the controlling process, fleeing their English village, perhaps they will become the saviours of mankind, saviours whose voices have yet to break, and whose balls have yet to sprout any hair.
Could happen!

From what little information is available, it seems each season was based on one of the novels, the idea presumably being that the show would run to four seasons but, in reality, only two were ever shot, though a script for series three apparently exists.
With a tiny budget, even by BBC standards at the time - remember those wobbly Doctor Who sets? They looked like Jurassic fucking Park compared to this - it was always going to be a struggle to bring something so epic onto the small screen.
With sporadic acting - some of it is laughably poor. And I watch Troma movies! - a crushingly slow pace, and not particularly likeable characters, this isn’t something which has aged particularly well.
There are some plus points, though.
The title sequence, along with the title music, is cool as fuck. Retro, highly stylised and quite original, they are well realised.
The Tripods, when they do make their all too seldom appearances (again budget, we suspect) are efficient enough. Giant, three footed mecha-bots that can't help but bring to mind the fabulous artwork from the Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds album, a slab of progressive deliciousness from the seventies.
Far from perfect, then, but for fans of cult TV, and for those interested in the history of science fiction, a reasonably important show.

Find an episode guide here

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