Friday, April 3, 2020

[Roll Your Own Life] The TV That Shaped Me (Part 1)

I was nearing the end of my "Games That Shaped Me" series of blog posts, looking at tabletop roleplaying games that had a massive impact on my life, when I was tagged in another one of these things on Facebook by T R Knight - who you'll remember from joining in #RPGaDAY a couple of years ago. Anyway, T R Knight tagged me with a similar thing but it was supposed to be ten images of vintage TV series that you loved, with no explanations or reason - just TV shows you loved.

Well, I was getting close to finishing the Games posts, and I was finding the daily blogging thing quite therapeutic in these trying and crazy times, so I thought I'd take the initial "TV Shows" prompt and run with it...

So, Ten TV Series that had an impact on my life. I'm going to do it in chronological order again (hopefully) and - bear in mind I watch(ed) an awful lot of TV - there will be some omissions... I've thought long and hard about these, but you may be surprised at my choices.

Here we go with number one of ten!

Sapphire and Steel (1979 - 1982)

As the earliest of the TV shows that had a major impact, I guess I should set up this point, and you'll see why I started watching this to begin with.

Most of the TV I watched in my dim and distant youth, short of the cool cartoons like Space Sentinels, Battle of the Planets, and so on, was the kinda thing my mum liked. She watched Doctor Who (mostly because she liked Jon Pertwee, and stopped watching it when Tom Baker took over), introduced me to The Man From UNCLE (because she knew I liked the James Bond movies) and The New Avengers. I watched science fiction series, mostly because I was obsessed with Star Wars, but I was happy watching most stuff - The Professionals, Man From Atlantis, Gemini Man, Invisible Man, Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Mysteries, Fantastic Journey, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, Logan's Run... Heck, I'd watch everything.

Then came Sapphire and Steel. I guess it could be called ITV's answer to Doctor Who. Two elemental time agents dispatched to deal with temporal irregularities where time itself would break through and things would go horribly wrong. It had Joanna Lumley in it (from The New Avengers) and David McCallum (I'd seen in The Invisible Man and The Man from UNCLE) - all series I used to watch. A science fiction series with those leads? Heck yes.

That first episode had me hooked. Adventure One (as it's known now) started with a couple of kids in a farm house whose parents had vanished through a crack in time after reciting the old nursery rhyme "Ring a Ring o' Roses". By the end of that first episode, when Sapphire's eyes were glowing blue, and they were reciting the rhyme backwards to prevent the crack opening again, I was glued to the TV.

Later serials were just as creepy. Adventure Two featured Sapphire's eyes going black, and an abandoned railway station and the ghosts of WWI soldiers. But Adventure Four turned up the creep factor even more with a strange faceless man, and weird things happening in old photographs.

The series came to an untimely end with Adventure Six, with Transient Beings trapping Sapphire and Steel in a motorway service station for eternity. It's a shame it finished there - apparently another series was planned, but both Lumley and McCallum had decided to call it quits.

We rewatched Sapphire and Steel a few years ago and it's still creepy and cool to this day. Sure it's a bit old and ropey in places, but it was genuinely cool and very different. It was certainly very different for its time.

Sapphire and Steel made a come back with Big Finish's audio dramas, with David Warner and Susannah Harker taking over the roles, and there have been a few planned revivals that fizzled out over the last few years.

Personally, I'd love to see a revival with Alice Eve and John Simm taking over the roles.

I remember a friend of ours had written a Sapphire and Steel tabletop roleplaying game using the Marvel Superheroes RPG as a base (the old TSR one), and even wrote to the series' creator P J Hammond to get his permission (which he got!), but nothing really came of it. I mean, it's a perfect idea for an RPG - characters playing different elements (as we also saw Silver and Lead in the TV series) with different abilities being sent to strange locations to stop temporal irregularities. It'd be great!

Until tomorrow, stay safe.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My dad decided it was too strange and we weren't allowed to watch it, or rather there was only one TV and no video and my dad was watching something else at the same time. Anyway, I never got into it... I do remember Lead though.

BUT! I think it was sabotaged by the Science Police; steel isn't an element. It's an alloy of iron and carbon. Just saying...;-)

Milo. xxx