Thursday, August 30, 2012

DVD Review: Injustice

Injustice DVD 2-Discs (223 min) Stereo SDH Subtitles 16:9 widescreen
Released by Acorn Media on August 28th 2012. SRP $39.99 (DVD)
If you have ever been to this site before, it may be very obvious that most of the programs I watch are older British series from the 1950s to 1990s. It is the era I really got into British television as a kid so it still holds a very special place for me.  Watching programs from the twenty-first century seems almost weird to me but the good news is that there is a lot of good British television being made. I know a lot of people (and some friends) that say “they don’t make ‘em like they used to.” I personally think that is the case with the comedies but when it comes to thrillers like Injustice, they have never made them better. There has to be something said about a program that starts out one way and completely takes you on a journey that you didn’t expect. It is done without any pretention. It is a story that takes all of us on a roller coaster of intrigue and tragedy. Two murder cases going on at the same time with each investigator looking for a murderer and crossing the other’s path. The outcome is satisfying but not expected.

Injustice was a series that ran in the UK from 6/6/11-6/10/11 on ITV. This particular series was outside my radar mainly because it was shown over here in the US on DirecTV which is not something I subscribe to for television viewing. I wonder how many people know about this series? Hopefully with the help of this article, more people are interested in checking it out. The series was created and written by Anthony Horowitz. As it happens, he wrote some of the episodes from the last review I did which was Poirot. Of course, he did a lot more than that. Horowitz created Foyle’s War (another must-see). He wrote episodes of Midsomer Murders and will be writing the screenplay for the sequel to Tintin. Of course, some fans will never forget (or forgive) that he also created the series Crime Traveler. Some people like it and some people don’t. This is just a little bit of his output. He is very accomplished and has a massive body of work not only on television but film and in books.
This is a difficult series to write about as so much that is happening all leads to the conclusion of the series and I would be horrified if I ruined it for anyone. I have been wracking my brain to figure out a way to convey the series without ruining it for anyone who wants to see it. The series centers around a Barrister by the name of Will Travers. He used to take the defense on murder cases but something happened to Will that changed him. He was a very promising lawyer in London but Will got ill, if you will, and stopped defending murderers. At the beginning of the series, Will is defending a young black man who is accused of stealing a man’s war metals. The young man was innocent and it looked like a sloppy case by the police. In fact the partner of Police DS Wenborn ends up being put on suspension because of how poorly he handled the case. Wenborn has an immediate dislike towards Will because of the case he put together against Wenborn’s partner but Wenborn himself is a nasty piece of work.
Soon Wenborn is put on a murder case with a new partner. He doesn’t care how he obtains results as long as he obtains them. His commanding officer doesn’t care either; he knows that Wenborn will get what he wants. Even if it means cruelly threatening teenagers, insulting old women, or tampering with evidence or where evidence comes from. Oh, he also beats his wife, ridicules her and cheats on her. He really knows how to hold a good marriage together. Of course he doesn’t! He is a horrible husband. His wife tries real hard to be supportive but she is fighting a losing battle. On the other hand,  Will Travers is much luckier with his wife Jane.
Jane is a very well-educated woman who used to work in the publication business when they lived in London. After Will had his breakdown and they moved to Suffolk, she gave up that life. One thing she does do is go to the local youth prison and have a reading group with a few of the inmates. One young boy is very smart. His name is Alan and he actually can write.  He wrote a few chapters of a book and handed them off to Jane who took them to a publisher that is trying to woo her back to work in London. He loves the chapters! They seriously want to publish Alan’s book. Jane is a very loyal and supportive wife to Will. They have been together for a long time. Layers of the story reveal themselves to us over the course of the episodes. One thing is clear is that while in college, Will stole Jane away from their friend Martin Newall. Martin has just been arrested for murder in London and there is only one man he wants to represent him.

Martin works for Qestral, an oil company, in which he was having an affair with a very young secretary named Lucy. They went to a hotel in London one night. Martin went to get some food for Lucy and when he got back she was murdered….strangled. Martin knows that Will would be perfect for this case as he would be able to prove Martin’s innocence. One thing that is made clear during the investigation is that a Qestral computer belonging to Martin was stolen from the hotel room that night. What is the significance of this computer?
Jane does not want Will to take on this case even though Will, Martin, and Jane all went to school together. Will decides he is well enough to take on the case and starts the investigation that takes him to many different places where he finds out more about Qestral. Meanwhile, DS Wenborn is investigating the death of Philip Spaull who was an activist who would resort to violence if it was necessary. Spaull was shot execution style point blank in the face. Wenborn does a lot of investigating until he realizes that there is a connection between Spaull and Will Travers. What is the connection and how could Travers who is an upstanding Barrister have anything to do with this character Spaull? Everything I mention above is all connected in some way. The fun is to see how they are connected and how they get resolved. Oh, did I mention that Travers is often visited by the spirit of an 8 year old boy?

This series is about multiple stories that cross-over each other multiple times over the course of the episodes. I am sure much I have written about this series sounds clich├ęd but it is anything but that. I watched trying to figure it out and there were some truly shocking and unexpected twists and turns to this series. After I got to the end of Episode Two, I knew needed to see the rest. Even though the story is disjointed (to heighten the mystery), it plays out very well. I just want other people to watch so I can talk with them about it!
James Purefoy plays Will Travers. Purefoy played Mark Antony in Rome and was in A Knight’s Tale. He was also a contender for James Bond when the film series returned in 1995. Purefoy plays Will in a very calm and underrated way. He is gentle and fair. Yet, why is he the focus of an investigation? Dervla Kirwan plays Jane. Kirwan is known for her role as Phoebe Bamford in the BBC comedy Goodnight Sweetheart and also Miss Hartigan in the Doctor Who Christmas special, The Next Doctor.


These episodes look great and they should. The series was shot in either 2010 or early 2011. The only thing that bums me out a little is that there is no Blu Ray release of the series. As far as I am concerned if the series is made in HD, it should be released in HD. It is fine if there is a DVD release too but I would like to get the series made in the format it was broadcast. I doubt this had anything to do with Acorn Media. It is released in the UK only as a DVD with no Blu Ray option either. Part of me wonders if it was released over here only on DVD since maybe not a lot of people are familiar with this series. It’s one possible explanation.

The only extra on this DVD is the photo gallery. I am not a big fan of photo galleries but this one is alright. It plays through the photos itself with no option to jump ahead but it is played over the theme music to this series. What I also like is that these are photos from a photo shoot with the characters instead of just screen grabs from the episodes on the discs. I have seen that before and am always disappointed to see that happen. Not that this is an extra per se but I am pretty impressed when you pick an individual episode from the menu it gives a synopsis of the episode on screen. I think it’s a nice touch especially if you watch this over a period of time instead of all at once. It helps you get caught up.
I think this release has a striking cover with Will Travers on it. It doesn’t give away anything about the series. In fact, I would have thought the series would have had a different tone and feel based on it. I also think it is a lot better than the UK cover for the series.
UK DVD Cover
Honestly, you don’t need to be a fan of British television to dig this. If you love mystery and a good suspense thriller, this is very worthwhile. It’s a very smart and stylish production. Just check out the awesome artistic opening credits! They are wonderful. Give this intelligent suspenseful series a try and you will find out the real meaning to why this series is called Injustice.

Disc Breakdown:
Disc 1: Episode One, Episode Two, Episode Three TRT: 133 min
Disc 2: Episode Four, Episode Five, Photo Gallery TRT: 90 min

Coming Soon: In a couple of days I will post DVD reviews of Acorn’s release of Young James Herriot and BBC Video’s Absolutely Fabulous: 20th Anniversary Specials. I am also going to resume regular non-review articles in a week with a tribute to Geoffrey Hughes who played (amongst other things) Onlsow from Keeping Up Appearances.
Have a great week!

Do you have feedback, article requests or want to talk about a program but do not want to leave a public comment? Feel free to drop me an e-mail at

I am on Twitter: @FromtheArchive

Also please subscribe to my From the Archive: British Television Blog Facebook Page for updates about new articles.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

DVD Review: Poirot Series 6

Agatha Christie: Poirot Series 6 DVD 4-Discs (415 min)
Released by Acorn Media on August 28th 2012. SRP $39.99 (DVD) & $49.99 (Blu-Ray)
Since January of 2012, Acorn Media has been re-releasing all of the Poirot mysteries. This is pretty exciting since this is an excellent series that has been on the air since 1989 but this is the first time this series has been released in the US in its proper UK broadcast order and it has been completely re-mastered. I will get a little more into that later in this review but I realized very early on watching these episodes I was in for a treat.

This ITV series started in 1989 with the episode The Adventure of the Clapham Clock and has been running ever since with its start David Suchet playing, to me, the definitive version of Poirot. It’s funny as most production companies that ever has a go at making any Poirot stories, they always seem to start off with Murder on the Orient Express just like if anyone wants to make a Sherlock Holmes story, they tend to make The Hound of the Baskervilles. For this series, Murder on the Orient Express did not air until 2010. The series is still going strong with its star David Suchet vowing to complete all the stories written by Agatha Christie. Of course, I assumed he would as he is, to me, the definitive version of Poirot. He will be finishing up very soon with the final episode Curtain.

Something else that Acorn has been doing with these releases that commenced this year is that they released this series not only on DVD but Blu Ray too making this a very definitive collection of this series.
This set covers the 4 feature-length episodes from Series 6. On the DVD this is 4 discs with one story on each disc. The Blu Ray is a 2 disc set. The episodes covered in Series 6 are: Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, Hickory Dickory Dock, Murder on the Links, and Dumb Witness. If you have only heard of Poirot but never immersed yourself into this world, I don’t think you need to start from the beginning. I feel that you can pick up the series at any time. It’s all about loving a good mystery and finding a fascinating character to solve it. Poirot is all of that.

Agatha Christie first introduced us to the Private Detective Poirot in 1920 with the novel. The Mysterious Affair at Styles and makes his last appearance in the 1975 novel Curtain although it was written in 1940 by Christie. She wanted it to be published after her death although it was in fact published just prior to it. Through the years, other people have played the role of Poirot such as Albert Finney and Peter Ustinov. It was with Ustinov that Suchet played Chief Inspector Japp and later would take on the role of Poirot himself. The ITV series that started in 1989 was going to be different than anything we had seen before with a lot of attention brought to the dramatizations of the stories and exquisite detail to the era the series takes place in.
Series 6 begins with Hercule Poirot Christmas (original UK airdate 01/01/95). Poirot is looking forward to spending Christmas by himself and he is all set for a relaxing holiday until he gets a call from Simeon Lee who believes his life is in danger. Simeon has multiple grown children and has disdain for all of them. It appears there isn’t anything good about Simeon at all. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he is murdered; his throat slit. How can he be murdered in a room that was locked from the inside under the very mustache of Poirot? It is necessary for Poirot to get Chief Inspector Japp in to help him solve this case. One of the highlights for me is seeing the part of the butler Tressilian played by actor John Horsley who played Doc Morrissey in the BBC classic series The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin. This is one of those great Poirot episodes that take place in a country manor with the backdrop of Christmas hanging over the tragedy. It has an interesting way to depict the passage of time as the image of a desk calendar is super-imposed over the action telling us we are getting closer to Christmas.  
Out of a series of great episodes Hickory Dickory Dock (original UK airdate 02/12/95) may have been my favourite. This episode incorporates a youth hostel with a group of University students who are all not what they seem. Poirot is brought in because his secretary, Miss Lemon, is worried. Her sister is running the hostel and there is a series of thefts in the house. Odd things are stolen like Stethoscopes, knapsacks, one shoe, etc. Why is this stuff being stolen and how does diamond smuggling fit into all of this? Unlike Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, which I figured out pretty quickly, this story has a ton of twists, turns, and miss-direction.  There are some that are so clever that I couldn’t share without the risk of giving away the end of the episode. My only real criticism of the episode is that there is this attempt at symbolic imagery that takes place along with the rest of the action of a mouse running around the house. It’s mainly, from a distance, watching the action.  I know that this plays in with “Hickory Dickory Dock, the mouse ran up the clock”, it does play into the action at the end but I felt that this was not done in a way that really connected it with the rest of the story. Plus, seeing this immediately made me to start making comparisons with the BBC series The House of Cards where so many shots had imagery of a rat which was a direct correlation of what is happening in that series made me wonder why they did it here as it wasn’t as successful.

This episode is a ton of fun to watch and I think what really makes this interesting for me is the attention to detail. There are lot locations in this episode and just think about it. In a regular film shoot, great detail needs to be taken even if the shoot takes place in present day. I can’t imagine trying to do a series like Poirot and take great attention to make sure everything looks like 1936. I am not expert on this matter and I am sure some liberties are taken but I am satisfied with the overall look and feel of these episodes. A great example is a scene that takes place in the London Underground. The trains used are beautiful and antique. It gives a real good taste of what it might have been like back then. It’s gorgeous. Guest stars include a young Damien Lewis who plays Leonard Bateson and a personal favourite of mine, David Burke, who played a wonderful version of Watson in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
Murder on the Links (original UK airdate 02/11/96) has a great start. A lot of shows or movies that are period pieces start with “newsreels” to set the stage for the action. This episode does that too but does it from the stand point of a group of people making the newsreel and announcer recroding the VO for it which clues us in to the background of the story. It’s essentially the same thing but done in a way to make it fresh. I have never seen it done that way before. Poirot and his close friend Hastings take a vacation to France where Hastings secretly books them in a hotel that caters to the golf enthusiast which Poirot is anything but. Poirot has little to worry about as he is soon caught up in a case of murder. Once again, many suspects with many angles. This case has roots that go back 10 years previous to when Poirot gets involved.

The stakes on this case becomes higher as Poirot does not have the luxury of working with someone like Chief Inspector Japp but he has to work with Monsieur Giraud who believes he is the best detective in France. So much so that Poirot and Giraud wager a bet to see who solves the case first. If Poirot wins, he gets to keep Giraud’s famous pipe that he smokes everywhere and if Poirot loses, he has to shave his trademark mustache.  Is Poirot clean-shaven by the end of the episode?
The final episode of Series 6 is Dumb Witness (original UK airdate 03/16/96). Poirot and Hastings go to England’s Lake District to see Hasting’s old friend Charles try to break the world speed record for a motor boat racing. As with Hercule Poirot’s Christmas and Murder on the Links, money is a factor in this episode. Emily Arundell is very rich and there have been some attempts on her life. Even after she changes her will to keep her wealth away from her family, she is murdered. Only one individual knows what happened and he’s not going to speak anytime soon.

This is another great episode with some fantastic location shots. There are not as many locations as in Hickory Dickory Dock but the story is shot very well making great use of the surrounding locations and the natural beauty of the lakes and old-fashioned houses in the area. Just like in some of the other episodes, there are some faces I recognize such as Julia St. John who played Laura in the BBC comedy The Brittas Empire and Jonathan Newth who has been in many series including playing the role of Dr. Soames in the 1981 adaptation of The Day of the Triffids which I just wrote about recently.
There is not much to say about David Suchet’s role as Poirot that isn’t already known. He is enchanting and quite honestly amazing. The character Poirot himself is someone who can be amusing and very serious at the same time. For a smaller unassuming person, Poirot has a way to get a great deal of respect from everyone he works with and if they don’t initially respect him by the time they are done with him they will. I really enjoyed in Murder on the Links, Poirot’s attempt at understanding the game of golf. At one point he asks Hastings if he is going to play a “circle” of golf instead of a “round”. At the end, he once again tries to show interest in the game by asking Hastings if he plans on improving his “disability” instead of “handicap”.

Back in 1995-1996 when these episodes were made, the production process for these series often followed shooting on film, transferring to video and editing it on video for the final product. It is essentially done the same way today but there are a couple of major differences. First, the process of telecine which is transferring of film has evolved very much through the years to get a better picture than ever possible before. Secondly, programs today are produced in HD. Because of how Poirot was made, this series can benefit from the advances in technology. It appears that all of the film exists for these episodes and they have been re-transferred to HD and re-assembled. Unfortunately, I was not sent the Blu ray set so I cannot comment on how this looks in HD. I will try to get some examples or the set from Acorn because I am interested to see how this looks in HD. I watched the DVD and I think it is clear that it is a re-transfer. The image is very crisp. I looked at some of the older releases of Poirot from years ago and it is very clear these new transfer are very clean and very pleasant to look at to my eye. The one thing I might have a criticism about is the colors. For the first 3 stories on this set, I felt the colors were very cold and pale. I would have liked to see some warmer colors in the transfers but these might be consistent to how the director wanted them to look when the production was originally done. The colder color grading worked well for Hickory Dickory Dock as it felt natural to me for its art deco setting but it feels out of place for Hercule Poirot’s Christmas. Yet in Dumb Witness, work had clearly been done on the grading of the episode. There are shots by the lakes and at country houses that really benefit from the new transfer. Take a look at the skied in that episode you can see what I mean by the color grading.
There are no extras on this release and maybe there have been on some of the earlier ones. I like extras but I honestly don’t see them essential for every release so having none here is not an issue for me.

I know you should never judge a book by its cover but I am a fan of owning the DVD or Blu Ray medium. So for me, the whole experience of the program and the packaging it comes in are important. I think the packaging for the whole Acorn re-release of Poirot is really very smart and effective. There is a nice house style that has a “classy”, for the lack of a better term, look to it. Each cover in the range is a picture of Poirot with some kind of background like a large room. It is obvious that the picture of Poirot is a from a screen grab cut out in front of a background but that’s fine. The Series 6 set comes with an outer sleeve that is very nice and copper colors are of a reflective material that looks nice on the shelf. I would imagine the whole series done this way would be really nice looking on the shelf. The DVD case itself is standard size that is a “flipper” that holds all 4 discs. It makes it a nice size to store.
This is a great set. It just has the episodes but I think that is fine. Work has been done to make them look as good as they can and the pricing for the DVD and Blu ray sets are reasonable. If you have not seen Poirot before, I don’t think you need to start at the beginning. Picking up this Series 6 release is just as good of an introductory into the world of Poirot from the 1930s as anything else.
DVD Breakdown:
Disc 1: Hercule Poirot’s Christmas TRT: 107 min DVD5
Disc 2: Hickory Dickory Dock TRT: 103 min DVD5
Disc 3: Murder on the Links TRT: 103 min DVD5
Disc 4: Dumb Witness: TRT: 102 min DVD5

Do you have feedback, article requests or want to talk about a program but do not want to leave a public comment? Feel free to drop me an e-mail at

I am on Twitter: @FromtheArchive

Also please subscribe to my From the Archive: British Television Blog Facebook Page for updates about new articles.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Triffid Take-Over! The Day of the Triffids Part Three

It’s hard to believe it’s already time to write about the Parts 5 & 6 of this series. It goes by really fast and in the course of 6 episodes a lot of stuff happens. Remember, when we started this series, it was a day after everyone had gone blind. We, as viewers, were introduced to an incredible and mysterious plant life known as the Triffids. We have seen human atrocities that we would have never thought possible and we see how people react in crisis from both sides of the spectrum: kindness and cruelty. Just think, this was all caused by some fantastic meteor……or was it?
Click here to read about Part One & Part Two

Click here to read about Part Three & Part Four
Part Five TX: 08/10/81

As we got to the end of Part Four, Bill was back at the University of London looking for Jo and someone else is there roaming the halls. Is it Jo? No, it’s Coker. Remember him? Because of him, Jo and Bill got separated in the first place. Because of Coker, Bill was basically imprisoned as the leader of one of the groups taking care of the blind. Now, Coker sees what everyone had been trying to tell him. It was a noble idea that he wanted to care for all the people who could not see but it was impractical. Not enough sighted people to take care of all the blind people. Plus now, the disease continues to kill off people by the droves. There were no groups left. Coker’s plan failed.
Bill must be one of the most even-tempered and kind people to ever walk the Earth. Face to face with Coker again, Bill does nothing to Coker. This does not seem out of character at all; in fact it seems just right. It is clear to me that Bill is one of those people who doesn’t want to hold a grudge, he wants to move on. He knows if he takes any anger out on Coker is futile. The Earth needs all the people possible to keep things together. After Bill explains to Coker that he plans on finding Jo, the two of them decide to go to Tynsham. That is where Beadley and everyone else had gone. Maybe Jo had gone there too. Upon their arrival, they find that things did not go according to plan. Beadley, Dr. Vorless, and Major Anderson have left Tynsham to Ms. Durrant. Dr. Vorless explained way back in Part Three how the conventional system of husband and wife would not be possible in a new world where the Earth needed to be repopulated. Ms. Durrant and others did not agree with this way of thinking and decided to break off from the group. It was Beadley and the others that decided to move on to somewhere else.

Coker thinks he can convince Ms. Durrant of the shortcomings of this community and rally them to be more realistic of what is happening around them and how to survive more efficiently.  Unfortunately, Ms. Durrant does not agree with his views and both Coker and Bill head off to find Jo. Bill is pretty sure that if Jo can, she will be heading towards The Sussex Downs. As they travel, they stop in a village after a blind man waives a white flag as they drive by. He comes out to them but a Triffid is waiting and kills him. Bill kills the Triffid with the Triffid gun. Coker decides that he wants to make another go at Tynsham. He wants to belong in a community. He takes one of the Lorries and heads back.
Driving on his own, Bill ends up nearly hitting a young girl as she runs out into the road. Her name is Susan. Her and Bill travel to The Sussex Downs and eventually find Jo. That seems very lucky to me but I know we need to keep the series moving. Bill decides that everyone on Shirning Farm (where Jo is staying) should join the community at Tynsham so Bill goes back to tell Coker. Unfortunately, when he gets there, he finds that the disease has taken just about everyone there. Dead bodies are scattered all over the place including Ms. Durrant. There is no sign of Coker. It is decided that Bill, Jo, Susan and the rest stay where they are. The last shot of the episode is the outside of the house with the Triffids waiting.

The first four episodes had some Triffid action but they are really in force by this episode. There are some very grim images of Triffid attacks. There is a wonderful shot of Bill and Coker driving under a bridge and the camera pans to a dead body on the bridge with Triffids looking on. A lot happens in the episode and there is a ton of travelling throughout. It starts out in London then moves on to Tynsham, then to The Sussex Downs. Yet, with all the movement, if almost feels to me like a bit of padding even when there is so much happening. I think the good news is that we really get to see the Triffids as they almost start to become the dominant life-form in the UK. Bill still doesn’t believe that the Triffids are capable of actually thinking or being instinctive but he sees for himself first hand. The incident in this episode with the blind man killed by the Triffid at the village. The Triffid had been biding its time, waiting for this man to come out. Bill is becoming more convinced.
Part Six TX: 15/10/81

Part Six starts out with shots of London. It’s London as we know or it, or rather as it was in 1981 but it has been overgrown with greenery. London is completely deserted. Part Six takes place 6 years after the events of Parts 1-5. Life is very different now for everyone. Bill and Jo have been together all this time and have a child of their own. Susan is older and has needed to learn to grow up faster than she should. She is a tremendous help to everyone.
Coker finds them and lands a helicopter on their property. He explains that he is on the Isle of Wight and he is a part of the community there. He wants to bring Bill and everyone to this community and it is especially good for Bill since he would become the Triffid “expert” to learn how to kill these plants off once and for all. They accept and they just need to finish things up where they are and will join Coker soon.

Things change very quickly. Susan needed to light a fire to alert Bill and Jo to get back to the house once Coker arrived. The problem is that a military group that has “control” over the area saw the smoke from this fire and make their way to the property too. It is led by a man named Torrence. Torrence explains to them that they will need to take on more blind people and create basically a work camp. Susan will be moved to another sector where she will also take on another work camp. Luckily for everyone, both Bill and Jo are extremely smart. They do not bat an eye to any of this. They accept Torrence’s new decree and they happily offer Torrence and his men a chance to have dinner and stay the night so they can all celebrate the new arrangement and friendship. Bill wants nothing to do with this new way of life and creates a plan for everyone to escape this military group. Right away, Bill has a plan which is to get the soldiers very drunk, sabotage the military vehicles and get out. They do this successfully and leave the military to the onslaught of the Triffids. Now, do Bill and everyone else make it to the Isle of Wight? It is not seen on screen but I like to think they do.
Now, without Paul’s wonderful Triffid site, I would never have known about one interesting fact. This is probably made very obvious in the book but do you remember back in Part Four when this mad man guns down Alf and other blind people who were in the care of Bill? That was Torrence. Nothing is made of it in the TV adaptation with the exception that the person who was cast to play this murderer and Torrence is the same person. It is a wonderful underlying moment and it made me love this program all the more for it. It isn’t shoved in your face and if you aren’t careful, like me, you could miss it altogether. Also, throughout this entire story, we are led to believe that this meteor caused everyone to be blind. Bill had a different idea. As he puts it, we don’t know all the satellites that rotate around the planet. What if one of them was a weapon of mass-destruction? What if it was accidentally or purposefully set off and its purpose was to blind everyone? This could also explain the disease that came out of nowhere that has ravaged the population almost immediately after everyone went blind. That could be part of the same weapon or a different one. There is a really good chance that this was a man-made catastrophe. It seems believable to me which makes the story more terrifying. Who knows what horrible abominations created by someone else is waiting to be unleashed on us!

The Day of the Triffids is nice because it doesn’t have a lot of actors that I have seen before. It doesn’t mean they are not famous, I just haven’t seen anything with them before. Bill is played by John Duttine who has been in a number of programs such as Jesus of Nazareth, People Like Us, Wuthering Heights, and Doc Martin among so much more. He plays Bill as a level-headed smart person who is able to take all the changes around him in stride. If he loses his temper it is for a good reason otherwise he is very intelligent. Especially when it comes to Triffids which is very important now.
Emma Relph plays Jo. She is someone else I am not too familiar with and looking at her entry in IMDB it looks like she hadn’t acted (at least on TV) since 1990. Jo was someone else who was able to adapt. It probably helped that she found a smart partner in Bill. When we first meet her, she is attacked by a blind man and is forced to do his will. To be fair, she had no idea the entire population turned blind. She learned from the mistake and became a very strong person. There were some actors I was very familiar with in this series. At the top of the list was Maurice Colbourne who played Coker. He played him as someone who used treachery to actually help the blind. Once he and Bill partnered with each other, Coker becomes a very trusted ally and friend. Of course Colbourne played Lytton in Doctor Who on two separate occasions but also played Tom Howard in Howard’s Way. Sadly, Maurice Colbourne was taken away from us too soon as he died in 1989 at the age of 49. Other people that I recognize are Morris Barry, Pat Gorman and John Hollis who plays the very sympathetic character of Alf.

This is a great presentation of this series. It is the normal mix of videotape interiors and film exteriors. I don’t know if any of the film inserts exist for this story but they appear on this DVD very strong. They looked like a good transfer which I am assuming is original to the episode. I didn’t notice any tape drop-out on the episodes themselves. Everything looked as good as can be expected for the time period these episodes were made.
This was released during a period when the BBC were releasing other vintage series of the same or similar genre such as The Invisible Man, The Nightmare Man, Adam Adamant Lives!,  and The Quatermass Trilogy. All of these, with the exception of Adam Adamant Lives!, were released in 2005 and all of these releases included DVD viewing notes written by noted TV historian Andrew Pixley. The only thing that I dislike about this release is the cover. It looks like some cheap made for TV movie or something and it is obviously anything but that. It’s kind of hard to see that big orange thing on the cover is a Triffid. It’s one gripe from an otherwise excellent DVD release and a very worthwhile classic BBC series.

Last week I mentioned that in Part Four, the blind girl who was sent to seduce Bill into staying was horribly beaten by the rest of the blind people who didn’t believe he was going to stay upon her return. I got that one wrong. The blind people left because they were frightened that more people were getting the disease in their community including the girl. She had the disease and was not beaten. I don’t know why I thought she was. She mentions she is not brave and wants Bill to give her something to hurry up the process of her dying; to finish her off. Thank you Paul for pointing this out! I will amend my article from last week.

Some information used in this article comes from Paul Thompson who is a massive fan of all things Triffid and his website can be found at: Other information came from the DVD Viewing Notes booklet written by Andrew Pixley from 2005.
Some news:

I am getting into the reviewing business for this blog. I will be publishing reviews for some upcoming releases in the next few weeks for Acorn’s release of the Blu Ray of Poirot Series 6, Injustice and the 2002-2003 version of The Forsyte Saga. I hope to be doing more reviews from other labels too and I hope to share some other exciting news here soon. For next week, it will probably be the reviews I am publishing until I get my rhythm going. By no means am I going to stop the random viewings. In fact as I write this, I am watching the first and last episodes of The Last Detective (the Pilot & Dead Peasants Society) and will continue to write these articles. Lots of cool, fun stuff going on so please stop back and please let anyone who has an interest in British television know about this site.

Have a great week!
Do you have feedback, article requests or want to talk about a program but do not want to leave a public comment? Feel free to drop me an e-mail at

I am on Twitter: @FromtheArchive

Also please subscribe to my From the Archive: British Television Blog Facebook Page for updates about new articles.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

More Triffids! The Day of the Triffids Part Two

Not to sound like I don’t have an open-mind but I don’t plan on ever watching the 2009 version of The Day of the Triffids. Actually upon closer examination, I really do not have an open-mind. Let’s see, have I watched the 2005 version of The Quatermass Experiment? No, I have the DVD of it but something stops me from watching it. How about the 2006 A For Andromeda? Nope! Not interested in seeing it at all. I prefer the originals. I know I sound like a fogey. There were probably casual viewers in 1981 who weren’t interested in watching the BBC adaptation of The Day of the Triffids. They probably thought it was boring compared to the 1963 film starring Howard Keel. For me, after watching Parts 3 & 4, I am just enjoying the series very much and it is now moving at a quicker pace. It is very good but does have a couple of small cracks in its story telling.
Click here to read about Part One & PartTwo

Part Three TX: 24/09/81
Last week, as we were coming to the end of Part Two, a group of blind people had basically stopped Bill and Jo from going any further on the road. Remember, the blind group was led by Morris Barry….well maybe not led. Anyway, Bill and Jo have to sneak their way out of the car. The blind people are scared and angry. It is easy to see them as a threat but they don’t know where their next meal is coming from or who will protect them from the people who can see and that are cruel?

Bill & Jo do get some Triffid fighting gear and they end up commandeering an apartment in a high rise. Over dinner, they discuss what they are going to do with themselves. Throughout the conversation we hear people screaming and gun shots from the streets below them. It’s eerie. It’s clearly a horrible situation and it really has an effect on Jo. Not all is lost. They see a light emanating from the University of London. Not so much a light but more of a beacon and they decide when it is daylight, they will go over there. That night when they go to bed, the screams and crying still continue. Jo and Bill hold each other tight through the night.
The next day at the University of London, Bill and Jo arrive but find a group of blind people outside the gates lead by a man named Coker. Inside the gates are military soldiers and other official looking people. Coker is not blind and he is trying to convince the guards that the blind people need to be looked after. They need to be allowed to join the group. The commanding officer on the scene does tell Coker that he would be allowed in as he can see but not the blind people. After Coker tries to break his way in past the gates, the soldiers begin to fire in the air to scare off the blind people. Soon after that, Bill and Jo are allowed into the University.
Inside they meet the man who is in charge. His name is Beadley. The first thing Bill and Jo do is go out with a truck and get a ton of supplies. The idea would be that they would go with whatever group Beadley was leading. When Bill and Jo return from getting supplies, Beadley comments about the anti-Triffid weapons he sees Bill went out of his way to get. He doesn’t think the Triffids are a threat. In fact, he may have a valid point. There had been no sightings of Triffids in this episode apart from one scene where an older blind man named Tom is roped to his wife as he tries to make his way out to his garden to get some food during the night. A Triffid attacks and kills him. Another victim of the Triffid but the scene is a little out of place as these characters have nothing to do with the action with the main characters.

That night, Beadley lays out the plan for those who want to go with his community.  Basically, they need to leave London. As Bill said earlier in the episode, all sorts of disease will circulate through London due to the sewers and corpses all over the place. London will very soon be uninhabitable. Beadley had formed a group with Major Anderson and Dr. Vorless. They have it all figured out up to the point of how to repopulate the Earth. This includes men taking on many wives. They seem to have it all figured out considering it is really only day two of the disaster. I have not read the book but it seems to me that Beadley was probably friends to Major Anderson in the military and they were able to get something set up pretty quick. The idea of a group of civilians deciding on what is good for every one by forming their own government fascinates me. It is a concept that is seen in a lot of places not to mention Doomwatch and Survivors. As society breaks down, there are always people who pop up out of nowhere who always wanted to be a “leader” and take their chance while everyone else is recovering from the shock. Whether what they do is right is hard to know for sure. In Survivors, the militia that was set up was a crooked group of bullies. They didn’t want a government that would help people, they wanted to rule. They wanted the power. At least the leadership of Beadley/Anderson/Vorless was upfront with the rules. If people didn’t like it, they didn’t need to join. Basically, Jo and Bill were OK with the rules as long as Jo got to pick Bill’s other wives. There was love forming between the two of them.
During that night, a fire broke out in the University of London and Bill runs down the stairs to help but trips on the stairs. Next thing he knows when he wakes up is that he is bound and gagged.

Part Four TX: 01/10/81

Part Four is perhaps one of the harshest and most chilling episodes of the series. It left me angry at and sad for the people who were blinded. It showed me a character that I would dislike for what he was doing yet what he was trying to do was helping the blind people. Remember back in Part Two, the man named John was angling that Bill should stay with him, his wife and daughter. They needed someone to help and protect them. This is exactly what was going to happen but on a grander and more horrific scale.
There was no fire at the University of London. The fire was basically just smoke that filtered through the halls and when people went down the stairs, such as Bill, they would fall over a tripwire. This was all Coker’s idea.  Bill’s new life is basically being handcuffed either to a bar or two blind people (one on each arm) all the time. Bill is responsible for the well-being of 10 to 15 blind people to find food and supplies. Their job is to go out daily and find what they need. They end up taking over a hotel where all of them stay. Bill is given an area to work in. Just about at all times he is handcuffed on one side by a nicer guy named Alf but on the other side a bully named Ted. The major downside to this is Bill is now separated from Jo.

The life Bill has seems horrible. He has very little freedom. He tries to protect the blind people that have been thrusted into his care. He can’t really do any of the work himself but spends a great deal of time giving detailed orders to the blind people doing the work. This includes directions on how they should walk and carry supplies at the same time to just put a box into a van. One day as he is leading a group on the streets, a man who can see watches them walk by. He grabs his pistol and starts firing at them.  A couple of them die instantly including Alf. Bill tries to get the key from Ted to release them both from Alf’s body. As he does so, Bill wants to be released from Ted too which Ted refuses. This gunman is on the lose shooting blind people point blank so Bill attacks Ted, knocks him out and releases himself. It is a very tense moment of the series as it seems unfair to attack a blind man like that yet Ted was a cruel bully and was horrible to Bill most of the time. Bill had enough and for him to survive, he had to be released from Ted.
With Bill escaping and being free, it shows what kind of man he is as he still stays with the blind group. He is now free to help them get their supplies although they are almost killed by Triffids once. Triffids aren’t the small community’s biggest worry. The worry is that many of the people of the group is getting sick and dying. One night Bill is packing his stuff and a young teenage blind girl who is part of the group comes to his room. She tells him that the rest of the group is sensing that he is going to leave them. He admits he was thinking about it mainly since everyone is dying. She begs Bill not to leave and she even offers herself to him sexually if he would stay. It was not her idea but the group forced her to do this. Bill is repulsed by this but tells her that he is going nowhere and he will stay. He promises her that. The next morning all the people are gone except the girl. The girl was horribly, horribly beaten by the blind group because they did not believe her when she said Bill was going to stay. She is dying and Bill gives her sleeping pills to basically euthanize her. This episode is excellent but this is where I saw a big problem. Why would the blind people leave in the middle of the night if Bill was going to stay or leave? How could Bill sleep through a group of blind people leaving the house with all of their stuff in the middle of the night, let alone beat this teenage girl mercilessly to near death. He must have been a sound sleeper! Why would blind people leave the comfort of the house; how could they find another one? Although these scenes are dramatically excellent, it’s puzzling to me.
Bill is out trying to find Jo. He is looking at the area he was told she was controlling. She is not there. Bill goes back to the University of London where someone is waiting for him….

Correction of the above:
I mentioned that in Part Four, the blind girl who was sent to seduce Bill into staying was horribly beaten by the rest of the blind people who didn’t believe he was going to stay upon her return. I got that one wrong. The blind people left because they were frightened that more people were getting the disease in their community including the girl. She had the disease and was not beaten. I don’t know why I thought she was. She mentions she is not brave and wants Bill to give her something to hurry up the process of her dying; to finish her off. Thank you Paul for pointing this out! 
The Triffids themselves are very fascinating. When we get to the start of this program, the Triffids are an accepted form of plant-life on Earth. As discussed in the last article, if it wasn’t a necessary ingredient in the oil industry, they would have been wiped out by humans because of the way the Triffids likes to sting people on the face which usually kills them instantly. In the 1963 film, the Triffids are portrayed as aliens from space who were transported to Earth via comets. This was for the film whereas the original book stated in Chapter 2 (from Bill Masen):
"In the books there is quite a lot of loose speculation on the sudden occurrence of the triffids. Most of it is nonsense. Certainly they were not spontaneously generated, as many simple souls believed. Nor did most people endorse the theory that they were a kind of sample visitation-harbingers of worse to come if the world did not mend its ways and behave its troublesome self. Nor did their seeds float to us through space as specimens of the horrid forms life might assume upon other, less favoured worlds-at least I am satisfied that they did not."

The film version physically differs from the book description. In the film, they had tentacles that would draw their victims closer to them. They would sting victims from a projectile vs. a coiled tendril. The Triffids also dissolve in sea water. This was only in the film version. I have not seen the film version but at least in the more true sense of the story, it would have been interesting if the Triffids were from space because it might have been a reason why the comet showed up blinding most of the civilization giving the Triffids free-range. Perhaps the Triffids made it happen. The problem with that theory is that although the Triffid has some intelligence, it isn’t great intelligence. The Triffid, like any other weed, wants to survive. Its instinct is to survive. It doesn’t kill because it is homicidal, it wants to live and feed.
The 1981 BBC version (from the story we are currently watching) is much closer to the original idea Wyndham had for his story. It looks almost like a flower. It is my favourite version of the Triffid. They were designed by Steve Drewett. From the Wikipedia entry for Triffids: “The Triffids were operated by a man crouched inside, cooled by a fan installed in its neck; the 'clackers' were radio controlled. The gnarled bole, based on the ginseng root, was made of latex with a covering of sawdust and string while the neck was fibreglass and continued down to the floor, where it joined with the operator's seat. The plants were surmounted by a flexible rubber head, coated with clear gunge.” It is also intimated that Director Ken Hannam may not have been a big fan of the design because he did a lot of close up shots of the various parts of the Triffids more often than full on shots. Often the shots were close ups of the “head” of the plant or the bottom rattling stumps. Also, so far I can think of very few shots where the Triffid appears in studio. Most of the time we see them on the exteriors shot on film. I think the fact that they are scenes few and far between makes them creepier.

As for the 2009 BBC version, the Triffids looks “differs from the descriptions given in the original novel; rather than walking on three blunt stumps, the triffids drag themselves with prehensile roots which are also used to constrict prey. Their stalk is surrounded by large agave-like leaves, and they secrete their oil (green rather than pale pink) from their surfaces. Their stingers, which in previous film adaptations could not penetrate glass, are powerful enough to shatter windows, true to the original triffids of the novel. Instead of a cup they have a pink flower-like head, resembling a cross between a lily and a sweet pea, that enlarges before releasing the sting.”
There is real plant-life that is called Triffids. In the Durban area of South Africa, the Chromolaena odorata is also known as the Triffid. This Triffid does not move nor does it kill, it is actually used for medicine.
Would the real Triffid please stand up?
Some information used in this article comes from Paul Thompson who is a massive fan of all things Triffid and his website can be found at: Other information came from the DVD Viewing Notes booklet written by Andrew Pixley from 2005.

Some General Blogginess:
A gentleman by the name of Eric sent me a post he made on his blog regarding British comedies and asked me to let you all know about it. I think anytime someone takes the time to write about British television at all, I am pleased. You can view his post at:

Also, my friend Mike Fett has started to updated his blog again. Michael Fett’s Guide to DVD’s is being updated more regularly with his last article about Ashes to Ashes. He has adopted a randomness to how he picks his programs to watch. Now I wonder where he would have gotten that idea from? You can check out his blog here:
Ronald Helfrich Jnr was kind enough to link me on his blog I, Ron, eek! Thank you, that is very kind of you! You can get to his blog by going here:

Finally, my good friend Keith “Telly” Topping over the past year has been kind enough to give shout outs to his readers about my site and also link me under the “Essential TV News Sites” section of his blog. Thank you! His site is here:
I wouldn’t have anyone come to this site at all if it wasn’t for people like the ones above who take the time to let people know I even exist! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

Next week: The final two parts of The Day of the Triffids. Is there a happy ending? I also look at the DVD presentation itself. Is this a good release?
Have a great week!

Do you have feedback, article requests or want to talk about a program but do not want to leave a public comment? Feel free to drop me an e-mail at

I am on Twitter: @FromtheArchive

Also please subscribe to my From the Archive: British Television Blog Facebook Page for updates about new articles.