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Catweazle 1.1 – The Sun in a Bottle

Catweazle is a much-loved children’s series that ran for two series in 1970 and 1971. A wizard called Catweazle, played by Geoffrey Bayldon, fumbles a spell and, instead of flying, transports himself 904 years into his future, when all sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Hiding in a small barn, he is flummoxed by the power of “elec-trickery.”

I watched the first episode of the show on YouTube a few weeks back and showed it to our son this evening. To my huge surprise, he wasn’t really taken with it. I thought it had all the ingredients for a hit with him, including a kid protagonist, played by Robin Davies, who helps Catweazle hide out, some silly wordplay, slapstick, and the great comedy of the tramp-like wizard encountering tractors, windows, and orange juice and thinking they’re all terribly dangerous. It’s also got Neil McCarthy, who we’ll see in Doctor Who in a couple of months, as the amiable farmhand who needs the kid to fix the TV set when the picture goes all wobbly.

I also enjoyed the glimpse of one aspect of British life in late 1969 when this was made. When the kid pours Catweazle orange juice, he pours it about one part straight orange to three parts water. I have never seen that done before.

Sadly, our son didn’t like it as much as we hoped. He giggled a few times, but the threat of Catweazle being discovered by either the dad or the farmhand had him more worried than entertained. I’d planned to order the Network DVD set and add it to our rotation later this summer, but in light of his reaction, we’ll table it for now and try again next year.

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