Well, that was just about the most 1970s thing we’ve ever seen. It was terrific, don’t get me wrong, but while the grownups in the audience were certainly anticipating the Juganet to turn out to be Stonehenge, neither of us were expecting one of the kids to be transported into the future for a confrontation with the cult from Beneath the Planet of the Apes.
Okay, fair’s fair, I knew they’d end up at Stonehenge because I’d read a little about this, but so did Marie, who’d never heard of this serial before we started watching it. The program just hits the 1970s paranormal bingo so precisely that not only is Stonehenge inevitable, but if the writers, Bob Baker and Dave Martin, had sold this to an American network for a movie-of-the-week remake, they’d have filmed it in Florida and made the Juganet the Bermuda Triangle.
Didn’t see the trip to the future coming, though. In fairness, episodes one through six were just so darn good that, knowing Baker and Martin’s Doctor Who track record, I’m not at all surprised they couldn’t make the end work. Bernard Archard, an actor we will see again here in just a couple of weeks, briefly appears in the future sequences, but it’s honestly a letdown.
It’s best to focus on just how good the rest of the serial is. Part six has the kids trapped in an invisible house with unbreakable windows, menaced by Goodchild’s henchman, a really creepy man who, in one of the freakiest moments ever, is shown to be a raven or a crow turned into a human. Our son was petrified and behind the sofa for most of part six. If I were his age, when the crow-man started cawwing, I’d have been right back there with him.
Overall, though, this wasn’t a big success for our son. It was too scary for him, and the ending was just too strange. It’s my fault, though. It’s a children’s serial, but six-nearly-seven is really a couple of years too young. We may come back to the HTV serials when he’s a little older. Some of the others they made (Clifton House Mystery, King of the Castle, Raven, etc.) just sound terrific, and if any of them are half as good as this or Children of the Stones, they’ll be worth the investment. I might possibly pick up New Zealand’s Under the Mountain as well. We’ll see what 2020 looks like.
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