“I was super scared, but I also like to make you guys laugh,” our son admitted. It was right at the end of part two of the fourth Sapphire & Steel serial. Our heroes have discovered that their adversary is some kind of “shape” that entered our world at the moment of the very first photograph ever taken, and exists, somewhere, out of the frame or behind the subject, in every photograph since. And then, in a moment which must have looked triply impressive had anybody been watching this story on a black-and-white TV where the special effects joins didn’t show, one of the figures in a very old photograph actually moves and turns around.
Up to that point, the story had presented a couple of really memorable frightening moments. There’s the thunderous cliffhanger to part one, where viewers get a first look at this “shape” being. It’s a scene that unsettled every child who saw this in 1981 and left them yammering about it in chat rooms and forums about old TV ever since, and which those dopey unofficial “titles” that I talked about last time ruined for anybody unfortunate enough to come across them. And there’s a part where Sapphire attempts to take time back so they can get a good look at the “shape,” only to bring instead distortion, glimpses of men photographed in the negative, a babbling and repeating voice, and a monstrous, hideous howling that sounds like something from the soundtrack of an Argento film.
Our son spent most of that scene hiding behind the sofa, and grumbled as he rejoined us that he hoped he never heard that again. We smiled, and then, energized by the unconscious positive reinforcement, when the “shape” turned around in that old black and white picture, he leapt to hide his face with a shriek. He was “super scared,” but he’s also a clown. And for those of you who’ve read the previous two entries, he’s clearly feeling much, much better.