Sunday, 9 February 2014

Sapphire and Steel: Assignment 2 Episode 3

I've managed to get distracted from Sapphire & Steel, but you'd noticed that, hadn't you? - & I didn't want to blog about the television-related things that have distracted me in case I ended up leaving this Sapphire & Steel adventure hanging in the air. First The Avengers Lost Episodes from Big Finish distracted me: I've now listened to them further & see no reason to change my initial reaction, that not enough was done to change television scripts for audio. Then I got distracted by two new (to me) series: I've watched a few episodes of Callan (not sure about that one yet, I'll have to come back to it), & then got distracted by Public Eye. I never thought I would like that series, but I saw the box set in Cex (I agree with the reviews, the box set looks so flimsy you might as well buy the separate sets), bought some & have gone out of my mind for more Public Eye, to the extent that that show will definitely get picked apart within an inch of its life on this blog.
But I do want to discipline myself to finish the Sapphire & Steel assignment I started before moving on to anything else. The bottom line for this episode is that Sapphire, Steel, & Tully experience something of why the (now) crowd of dead people are so resentful. There is something new here: the time really gets mixed up, & it is evident that the ghosts are actually out to get Sapphire & Steel if they can. My main criticism of this episode is that I don't like the way these things are experienced. Don't like it, rather than making out it doesn't work, this is purely personal. I feel the tape recordings of what the ghosts experienced/are experiencing work better, although I do like the scene where Steel puts his jacket through the time boundary & it changes in front of our eyes.
Steel shows his lack of understanding of human emotions when he says that it is accepted that young men will die in war, to rule out why the ghosts could be so resentful. Of course in the context of the drama it makes sense but it also provides an interesting illustration that Steel does not understand that for a young man to be sent away to die in a war is more that anough reason to be resentful. His acerbic personality is to the front when, against Sapphire's protest, he sets out to irritate the ghost. He also provides me with two of my favourite lines in this episode:
Steel: 'You should know about obsolescence, Mr Tully.'
And
Tully: 'What about all the other lamps?'
Steel: 'They're waiting to be lit.'
Of course I missed it as a child, but an interesting insight into Sapphire & Steel's philosophy is given in the Gnostic use of light to counter the darkness that envelops the station. The station incidentally remains a superb setting for this story, not just for the romantic & other associations we have with railways, but also because it allows for different time 'scenes' to be introduced, & provides a relatively stable 'background' to the narrative. The narrative as a narrative continues to ask more questions than it answers: it is actually difficult to remember that Sapphire & Steel started out life as a children's series, with the depth of narrative here & complexity of possible understandings.
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