- THE COMPLETE SECOND SERIES
DVD region 2. Network.
days, the idea of a supernatural series aimed at kids would probably
cause outrage amongst our moral guardians, but in the 1970s, ITV
teatime series Shadows had some success with
it’s mix of chills and morality tales, usually involving
kids who were in some way outsiders. Seen now, the shows are a
little dated, but head and shoulders above current British children’s
Series 2, broadcast in 1976, features six stories that at their
best offer some genuine spookiness – and at their worst
are pointless exercises in nothingness. The opening story, The
Dark Streets of Kimballs Green, sits somewhere between
the two extremes, telling the story of a young girl who finds
herself living with the foster mother from Hell, who refuses to
let the girl read and generally treats her like dirt, while her
yobbish teenage son threatens to kill the girl’s cat and
rampages through the streets with his gang of delinquent mates.
Joan Aiken’s story doesn’t really go anywhere and
has an unlikely ending that fails to satisfy.
Time Out of Mind is a rather pointless episode
with a young girl fantasising about being a maid in a Victorian
house while she looks at a doll’s house. There are no thrills
or surprise here, and the story seems decidedly out of place.
The Inheritance is much better, as a teenage
boy and his grandfather bond over their love of the country, while
the boy’s mother tries to force him into an insurance career.
When the boy sees a ghostly dance in the woods, his fate is sealed.
It’s a slight tale with few supernatural elements, but at
least it has some genuine substance to it.
The best story is Dark Encounter, and this is
the only one that is (mostly) presented from an adult viewpoint.
A man returns to his childhood village and finds himself reliving
– alongside his younger self (this is set up as a surprise,
but you’ll get it right away) – a battle against dark
forces in the form of a possessed tree. Less silly than it sounds,
this is a genuinely creepy story.
Unfortunately, the best is followed by the worst, as Peronik
is a tedious story about a teenage boy and his connections to
ancient legends. It goes nowhere, has tiresome dialogue and, again,
features no scary elements whatsoever. It’s stories like
this that put your truly off the show as a kid.
Series closer The Eye is much darker, though
in the end it goes nowhere – however, it does have some
atmosphere and spooky thrills along the way, marred only by rather
terrible special effects. The story itself is fairly incoherent,
but it works as a series of unsettling images that probably gave
a few younger viewers nightmares.
With creepy animated opening titles that are not dissimilar to
Thames TV’s earlier, adult series Shadows
of Fear, Shadows is in many ways
very much of its time – but that’s no bad thing, given
how condescendingly awful kids TV is today. Naturally, it doesn’t
compete with the adult horror series of the era – there
is no room here for the shock ending, and the reliance on juvenile
leads means that the performances are rather patchy. But as a
way of introducing kids to horror movies, it works well. Nostalgic
TV genre buffs will find this a worthwhile purchase..
IT NOW (UK)