COME THE DOUBLE DECKERS
Second Sight DVD Region 2
you are of a certain age, mere mention of Here Come the
Double Deckers will bring a warm nostalgic glow, as you
remember the infectious theme tune and wacky adventures of the
gang. If you are younger - born, say, after 1975 - you might be
scratching your head in confusion. But hey, you've come this far,
so stick with us...
Come the Double Deckers was first aired in the UK in
1971, and follows the adventures of a bunch of kids who have their
'den' aboard an abandoned London bus that is stored in an equally
abandoned scrapyard. Here, they set out to have fun, often ending
up having assorted mishaps along the way. These usually involve
a mad scheme that goes wrong, a misunderstanding or an attempt
to help out somebody, although some later episodes are little
more than set-ups for variety acts (such as Man's
Best Friend, which starts out with the gang trying
to buy a Guide Dog for the Blind before becoming a pastiche /
rip-off of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In). The
only adult involved is street cleaner Albert (Melvyn Hayes), who
would probably be arrested today for hanging around with a bunch
of kids in a derelict, fenced-off yard and sometimes taking them
on unplanned trips! Parents are barely mentioned, and school doesn't
crop up until the final episode, making this a classic childhood
fantasy, where authority has been swept aside, allowing you to
build robots, set up shows for failed pop singers and shoot movies.
British production financed with American money, the show is an
odd hybrid - shot entirely on film, it looks much better than
most British shows of the time, where videotape was used for all
interiors, and the pacing and production values are also way above
any other British kid's show of the time. Stylistically, it's
a bit of a mash-up of The Monkees, The
Banana Splits and the BBC's youth show Why Don't
You..?, with 'amusing' sound effects, speeded up cameras
and incongruous song-and-dance numbers popping up out of nowhere.
Token American kid Sticks (Bruce Clark) is along to translate
for the kids in the US ("two pounds - wow, five dollars"
- the exchange rate was a lot better back then), but the
rest of the cast are uncompromisingly English, and apart from
the London bus of the title, there are few efforts to present
a stereotyped UK for US viewers.
of the characters are rather stereotyped of course -
the frightfully posh kid with glasses (Michael Audreson) is called
Brains, while chubby Douglas Simmonds is Doughnut (a step up from
Fatty I suppose). It's a relief that token black kid Brinsley
Forde - who went from here to form Aswad) is called Spring rather
than something less PC. It has to be said that pretty much all
the kids give decent performances - sometimes slipping into irritating
stage school smugness, but on the whole as believable as they
can be given the wholly unbelievable situations they find themselves
in. Guest stars include familiar TV favourites like Clive Dunn
and Frank Thornton, as well as Jane Seymour (in a weird Alice
in Wonderland fantasy story) and Robin Askwith as
a go-carting biker!
scheduled for 26 episodes, the series was cancelled by 20th Century
Fox after 17, and all of them are featured here, nicely preserved
and spread over two discs. The only extra is a surprisingly basic
featurette from Severin, with Forde and Audreson sharing memories
of the show. It would've been nice to see some of the other casts
members too (the most prominent of whom is Peter Firth).
fans will lap this up; I also suspect that kids - who are not
as 'sophisticated' as TV executives like to believe - will also
still be entertained by a lot of the shows.
on board, get on board..."
IT NOW (UK)
THE SOUNDTRACK CD (UK)