Review The Tripods (1984)

Doctor Omega

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The Tripods is a television adaptation of John Christopher's The Tripods series of novels. It was jointly produced by the BBC in the United Kingdom and the Seven Network in Australia. The music soundtrack was written by Ken Freeman.

Series one of The Tripods, broadcast in 1984, which had 13 half-hour episodes written by the author of many radio plays Alick Rowe, covers the first book, The White Mountains; the 12-episode second series (1985) covers The City of Gold and Lead. Although a television script had been written for the third series, it never went into production.

The first series was released on both VHS and DVD. The BBC released Tripods — The Complete Series 1 & 2 on DVD in March 2009.[1]

The series introduced several minor changes from the book, notably the shape of the Masters and Tripods, which have tentacles (although the Tripods do have a mechanical claw-arm that they sometimes use) in the book; the Black Guard was introduced to serve as a tangible human antagonist as overuse of the Tripods themselves would be expensive to film and undermine their dramatic presence; gravity inside the Golden City was increased artificially, which is not mentioned in the TV series; the introduction of "cognoscs", spiritual life-forms vastly superior to the Masters themselves; and more other main characters, including love interests for both Will and Beanpole. The original texts have few female characters. John Christopher was asked about this for an interview on Wordcandy,[2] replying that at the time of writing the series, it was generally accepted that girls would read books with boy main characters, but not vice versa. He also stated that he felt the addition of an entire family of girls to the TV series was somewhat "over the top".[2] The series is also notable for featuring non-humanoid aliens, which was uncommon at the time.

Charlotte Long, who played Will's love interest Eloise, died in a car crash shortly after the start of transmission of the first series. For the second series, the role was briefly recast, with Cindy Shelley appearing as Eloise during a dream sequence.


Film adaptation

Disney has owned the film rights to The Tripods since 1997. It was reported in 2005 that a cinematic version was in pre-production with Australian-born director Gregor Jordan signed on to rewrite and direct for Walt Disney's Touchstone Pictures label.

The film version was expected to be released in 2012, although as of 2015 the project is still listed as being in development, and no announcements about the cast or filming dates have been made.




 
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Gavin

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This story has always been one of my favourite book series. I'm astonished that no one has made it into a big budget trilogy yet.
 

Gavin

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It seems odd that it wasn't rushed into development during the recent craze for dystopian teen drama (Hunger Games, Divergent, Maze Runner, etc).
 

Amyghost

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I never saw the series (must go on the bucket list), but read the books, my favorite being The City of Gold and Lead, which I'm guessing wasn't filmed. Would be interesting to see a cinematic go at the trilogy but the imagery from the books was so vivid I'd almost hate to have my imagination invaded by film versions of many of the scenes and descriptions.

If that still in the OP is any indication though, it looks as if the special effects mightn't have been half bad, especially for something produced by British television in the Eighties.
 

ant-mac

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Anyone remember this BBC trilogy of only two series?
Yes, I remember it well, because I have both series of this TV program on DVD.
Had it all been for nothing?
I wouldn't say that.

It is certainly frustrating and a shame that they never completed the trilogy, but what there is of it is quite good.
Who wants to watch two parts of an old tv trilogy?
I do.

In fact, I've watched it through twice so far.
An unfinished classic?
Definitely.
Or a failed venture
Certainly not.
 

Doctor Omega

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I totally agree.

A shame that it was made at a time when the suits at the Beeb simply hated sci-fi.

Ditto Star Cops.
 

johnnybear

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I remember watching the first series back in 84 and liking it but not greatly. The acting was not that good and I didn't see series two the following year but in the nineties I bought the four videos of the first series off a market and really enjoyed them! I bought a bootleg of series 2 on DVD with an authentic cover but it wasn't a great copy as I recall but now I have the two series on DVD and have just recently finished reading the second book which differs slightly from the TV version and it's a great shame we didn't get the third and final series!

JB
 

Doctor Omega

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Comparison with the novels

When the BBC made the television series of The Tripods in the 1980s, they departed from Christopher's description. The Masters somewhat resembled the Tripods they drove. This makes the Tripods seem much more like mecha than purely eccentric vehicles. In the BBC serial, the Masters did not need to eat, sleep or drink. Additionally, they were not the rulers of the city, but were, in turn, under the rule of beings made of pure energy, known as Cognoscs. The Masters came from a planet named Trion that was in the center of a triple star system.

The method by which the Masters name themselves is also different. Rather than having names, they are simply called by their address. Will's Master is called West Avenue 4, Sector 6, Level 8, or West 468.

The Masters in the BBC production did not breathe green air and did not prefer the high gravity and high temperature of those in the book, since these would have been extremely difficult or expensive to recreate onscreen at the time. Their treatment of the slaves, rather than being harsh and thoughtless, was reasonable to the point of being friendly; with luxuries provided for them.

To avoid an overuse of the mechanical Tripods, the producers invented a new faction, the "Black Guards" as a police force with the task to enforce the will of the masters. They served as a more immediate threat for Will, his friends and the resistance.
 

johnnybear

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Yes I read the second book last year after finding it in a charity shop for 50p! The Masters were the aliens in the city and there was no sign of the Cognoscs in it! I thought that they were more benevolent than the Masters in the serial but weren't so much in charge of the Masters more that they were a superior form of life that was invited to observe! Didn't they object to the Tripods plan to poison earth's atmosphere with their own world's gases too?
JB
 

Doctor Omega

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I haven't actually read any of the books yet. An oversight that I will make up for one day.

Perhaps my only claim to fame is that, shortly after the show started I was an aspiring actor and got a role in a stage version of Alan Bennet's FORTY YEARS ON, playing the head boy of the school and Peter Stockbridge who played the squire of the village in episode one of TRIPODS was the headmaster.

I would have asked him about Tripods, but he was very quiet and spent most of his time in some darkened corner of the stage going over the script and mumbling his lines to himself. A very nice man though.

Another actor in the production was Alan McMahon, who went on to play the photographer who electrocuted the royal family in KING RALPH and Lawrence Werber who went on to appear in KNIGHTMARE tv series.

A contemporary in my class was Jason Bradbury who went on to appear in THE GADGET SHOW and also Lucy Cohu, who went on to play the title role of REBECCA in the Charles Dance version and who was also the crazy hippy woman in the second IN-BETWEENERS movie.

I think that's it for my vague brush with showbiz! :emoji_head_bandage:

I do think that it was crazy of the BBC to cancel a trilogy after two seasons.

There was also that fourth book - a prequel - that "John Christopher" penned in 1988. Perhaps he was naively hoping to get that adapted too! It was much thinner than the other books.....



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When the Tripods Came (1988)

When the Tripods Came is a prequel written twenty years after the publication of the original trilogy. The plot follows the description of the conquest given in the second book of the main trilogy. Fearing the technological potential of humanity, the so-called "Masters", unable to defeat humanity in a conventional war, hypnotise people through a television show called The Trippy Show, later using Caps to control them permanently. As in the original trilogy, the narrator of When the Tripods Came is a young English boy. As society slowly falls under the control of the Masters, he and his family escape to Switzerland, which has mounted the longest-lasting resistance. When the Swiss are eventually enslaved, the narrator and his family establish the "White Mountains" resistance movement of the original trilogy.
 

Doctor Omega

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Film adaptation

Disney has owned the film rights to The Tripods since 1997. It was reported in 2005 that a cinematic version was in pre-production with Australian-born director Gregor Jordan signed on to rewrite and direct for Walt Disney's Touchstone Pictures label.
The film version was expected to be released in 2012, although as of 2015 the project is still listed as being in development, and no announcements about the cast or filming dates have been made.

This remains in development hell, although an IMDB page for it still exists.....


http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0441811/?ref_=nv_sr_2


As I understand it, Beanpole was now to be a girl, but beyond that there were no other details.
 

johnnybear

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I like the idea that humanity can live a peaceful life as farmers and carpenters or the like but the fact of capping and losing all your interests like hobbies and defiance isn't good! Especially when you find out your benefactors are secretly about to poison your air supply and kill you off!
JB
 

Doctor Omega

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Lucy Cohu is a very sexy lady!!!
JB
Yes, it was way back in 1986, in Lincoln. As a youth theatre, we put on a production of A TALE OF TWO CITIES at the Lincoln Theatre Royal.

At the end of play party everyone had to get up and do some kind of cabaret party piece sketch or musical number.

Lacking the ability to play even a comb, I ended up doing an improvisational comedy sketch with Lucy where I was a terrified man trying to get off the Titanic, while Lucy was my wife sunning herself on the deck and telling me to relax. The line "What are we going to do? Wait till everybody's gone and order a taxi?!?" got a round of applause. (You had to be there, I guess! :emoji_confused:)

She was a really nice person, but drew a lot of jealousy from other girls in the class (behind her back, of course). They disparaged what they saw as her wealthy background, her looks and her figure and the fact that the tutors had clearly singled Lucy out as a talent to watch for - quite rightly, as it turned out!
 

Doctor Omega

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Of course he is! Disney would have started work on it if they thought that there was any big money in it I'm guessing!
JB

I think that there will be a movie trilogy at some point - or should that be quadrilogy?

Am not sure that I want to see one though, given the messes that they tend to make of these things.
 
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