The Tomorrow People: A Man for Emily - The Fastest Gun

This part of the Tomorrow People demonstrates perfectly why I fought shy from blogging about it. The show went on for so long with so many story arcs that it can be difficult to keep hold of.

I think we can truthfully say that A Man for Emily is the point at which it went off the wall. We have the bizarre space family, we have Peter Davison in swimming trunks, we have them make an Earth mission with the only research done in old westerns and we have the Tomorrow People interfering in this.

In plot terms I personally feel this may have been stretching the Tomorrow People slightly further than was a good idea. This is entirely personal because I can well see that the idea of a next evolution in human life would well include interaction with aliens, because this is one of the weird interests of the time. There are also a lot of completely earth-bound concerns dealt with by the show, including racism and ghosts. My own opinion is that this episode gives them too much to do and also raises the question of who gave the Tomorrow People this policing role. It is after all the curse of the advanced and intelligent to be suspected and held back, rather than being given opportunities actually to help the world!

That said, it is worth watching this string of the show purely for the sight of Elmer on earth in his mother's idea of what Earth people wear. I suspect she had seen Dolly Parton, but apparently the reason you never see Dolly Parton out in public is she doesn't wear her wig and dresses more quietly.

The best bit is the scene in the grocers shop. If you watch the women behind the grocer they literally can't keep a straight face, the situation is so ridiculous. That the grocer assumes he is on Candid Camera is a nicely reflexive point about the TV of the time.

I do wonder how this would have gone down at the time, but have not been able to find any contemporary reactions. In general terms as we know the fashions were pretty wild in the seventies but only for those who could afford the fashions. The show is careful to contrast the outlandishness of Elmer with 'ordinary' people dressed much more drably, so I feel it would have been a straightforward reaction that arriving here dressed like that was ridiculous.

I see from the DVD commentary that Peter Davison is very embarrassed about this his first role. Perhaps it is best approached as one of the wilder aspects of the 1970s!