Sky 1.1 – Burning Bright / 1.2 – Juganet

Last month, as we looked at the fabulous Children of the Stones, I briefly mentioned that there were a few other paranormal children’s serials making the rounds in the 1970s. A few of these turned up in the United States on Nickelodeon’s anthology series The Third Eye. Several which sound like they could have fit right in to that collection, such as Raven and King of the Castle, sound tantalizingly interesting.

Sky also didn’t make it to North America as far as I can tell, and I’m telling you: we missed out. We watched the first two episodes this evening and I enjoyed the heck out of it. I think my wife activated her “oh look, videotape interiors and 16mm film exteriors again” force field, and our son kept it at arm’s length because it’s remarkably creepy and strange. That’s okay. I like it enough for all of us.

Sky is a seven-part serial written by Bob Baker and Dave Martin for the HTV network, and shown in April and May of 1975, right alongside the last couple of Doctor Who stories that we watched. If David Bowie’s lyric about making way for Homo superior had inspired sixty-eleven television programs in that decade, then here’s its colleague. Sky is the Starman waiting in the sky who thinks he’ll blow our minds. He’s played by Marc Harrison and he’s from a different time or different dimension and very much out of place here. He needs to access something called a Juganet, a circular machine which helps travelers “cross over,” and he’s running out of time to find it.

From the instant Sky arrives on Earth, the planet retaliates against him. Sky is in constant danger from howling winds, swaying trees, roots that try to strangle him, and episode two ends with the planet forming a humanoid figure, a sinister-looking adult known as Goodchild played by Robert Eddison, in the forest to prepare a new attack. Sky is assisted by three teenagers, played by Stuart Lock, Cherrald Butterfield, and Robert Speight. Jack Watson, who showed up as the grown-up character in some similar SF/paranormal productions from the time like The Changes and The Georgian House, plays Speight’s father.

I think that so far, we’re off to a terrific start. To hear people talk about it – and it has a fantastic writeup in the essential Scarred for Life that had me ordering this DVD the same week as reading about it – Sky is just an unforgettable production full of freaky, eerie imagery and incidents that will stick with us for a while. I’m anxious to see what will happen in episode three… but we’ll watch something tomorrow morning a little more explosive to keep our son cheering before we creep him out with the next installment.

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