Sapphire and Steel: Assignment 5 Episodes 1 and 2
I am going to abandon my plan to blog about TV suitable for a time of strife, simply because when you actually look at every TV show they reflect human life, and so incorporate corruption, espionage, dangerous governments, and so on.
Instead it seems to be Sapphire and Steel season in my head so of course that will be reflected here. Something I have been waiting for has finally happened - doing my usual reading round the blogosphere before considering a post about this show I came across a blog post which I thought was really good. Honestly it was one of the best blog posts I have ever read and was written by a chap who obviously paid real attention to it and was a clever chap into the bargain. Of course I don't need to tell you I was slightly surprised to find that I wrote it myself, and you can read it here because it gives a perfect introduction to this assignment and shows what I was thinking about this show nine years ago.
Having already written a lengthy and considered series of posts about this show, I'm still going to revisit it, but just give my impressions and possibly reflect on whether my humble opinion has changed in the intervening nine years. This is the one where Sapphire and Steel crash the fiftieth anniversary celebration of Mullrine International, where Time goes horribly wrong, needless to say.
My original post on this episode can be seen here.
What most strikes me on this viewing is that there are a number of things wrong. I am not going to interpret them as being for production-related reasons such as economy but I have concluded that the amount of wrongness going on is intentional. One major thing that is wrong is that you may well have an anniversary celebration for your business, but if your business has the word 'International' in the title you can't hold this in your living room, you book a restaurant with a dance floor and stuff. Either the celebration itself is what is wrong or possibly there is something wrong about Mullrine International. This celebration would be more like a family accountancy or possibly a small paint factory, but no more than that.
This time round I'm really not taking to Lord Mullrine at all, despite everyone surrounding him obviously being very fond of him. I have a long history of taking apparently arbitrary dislikes to popular people, so it may just be that, but frankly he comes across as something of a dirty old man. He leers at his secretary and somes across as quite gross. This makes me think of the way so many rich and privileged people misuse power and grow richer and more powerful as a result.
Once again I am struck that the ages of the actors aren't always right for the part they are playing: some strike me as too old and some too young.
My overriding impression is that this episode cleverly sets up all sorts of expectations so that anything could happen. It borrows the conventions of Golden Age detective fiction, the house is described as evil, and of course Time is all out of sync. I have been thinking recently that our tendency is to associate this show with ghosts, which isn't true of course, but this episode sets us up for all possibilities, including ghosts. The way Sapphire and Steel play at being human has hit my attention less this time round, but I commented on it at length in my previous post.
My original post on this episode can be seen here.
There is a further incidence of wrongness in both the casting of George McDee (who tells his wife that she's much too old for him but she could only be five years older than him) and also in what is said about him. It is supposed to be 1930, he is supposed to be about to die, yet in the correct time frame would be a grandfather if he were alive. He has just spurned the mother of his children and it is probably not intended but I'm sitting here thinking that he'd really better pull himself together if he's going to marry her and have some children in the little time he's got left. I expect this is intentional as an indicator of how time is out of kilter, because it literally makes no sense at all.
I love that this episode uses one of the conventions of Golden Age detective fiction where they all go and play sardines and someone gets murdered.
Cleverly, even though time has already clearly started to go off kilter, the episode also sets us up for the possiblity of a ghost, in the form of George McDee and the way the candles on the cake blow out. Sapphire immediately says that he's not a ghost, but the episode plays with our expectations of what we might get in a Sapphire and Steel.
I am going to make a comment which I suppressed when I posted about this assignment originally, because it was something that I felt bad about and wasn't really sure how suitable it would be. It is that Felicity McDee (Nan Munro) has *the* most annoying way of crying in world history. She makes a terrible noise and there are no tears. Not to beat about the bush, on the several occasions she does it in this assignment, I get this terrible urge to slap her. And of course that's what I feel bad about. Given that there are no visible tears I do wonder whether this irritation is the intended effect or whether it's intended to give an aura of unreality, since they could easily have summoned some tears out of a bottle.
I do love the way George McDee competes with Steel in the sheer inhumanity stakes. As always with quality television the various characters interpret the events of the show in whatever way they can, which sets the scene for various possibilities to happen.
You can always rely on being thrust into the wrong time to show what a person's made of, that's what I always say.
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