Sapphire and Steel (1979-1982)

Guttersnipe

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Any fans? I watched the series on YouTube, being much too young to have caught it earlier (Also, I don't think it was ever popular here in the States). This show is genius, and I recommend it to sci-fi and fantasy fans alike. I like the idea that the origins of the main characters are pretty much just as mysterious as the in-universe entity of time itself. I believe it was made to compete with Doctor Who. Steel is memorably Spock-like, and Joanna Lumley (Sapphire) is lovely. All the episodes, as well as a documentary about the series, can be found on YouTube.
 

Dave

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I only remember it being excellent, nothing more. It was shown at a time and a period when I was too busy to always catch it, and long before VCRs (or even catch up TV for the youngsters) so I don't think I saw every episode. It would be good to watch it again in full, and I have seen the boxed set DVD in shops before. If it's on YouTube then I might also take a look later.
 

Dave

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I only remember it being excellent, nothing more. It was shown at a time and a period when I was too busy to always catch it, and long before VCRs (or even catch up TV for the youngsters) so I don't think I saw every episode. It would be good to watch it again in full, and I have seen the boxed set DVD in shops before. If it's on YouTube then I might also take a look later.
I watched "Assignment 1" last night. It isn't quite as excellent as I remember, but I do now remember things from seeing it before. I think we can say that it has aged somewhat. I may watch the rest too as I don't remember this shocking final episode.
 

HareBrain

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Ben Miller in today's Sunday Times Culture Magazine says it was one of his favourite shows. "There was an episode where David McCallum's face went blank -- that was the most terrifying thing I'd ever seen in my life."

I'd managed to suppress that memory, but now it's returned I'd be inclined to agree. It's some comfort that Miller is a year older than me but found this show just as scary. I don't know if it was meant as a show for teenagers, but I think that must have been the audience it was most suited for.
 

Matteo

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I remember it scaring the hell out of me as a kid. I watched the series on DVD a while back and thought it stood up quite well.
 

paranoid marvin

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Great series, assignment 2 being my favourite. The ending of this assignment also shows S&S to not necessarily be the benevolent beings they appear to be.
 

Guttersnipe

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Just finished Assignment 1, and I'll have to say, it's a lot scarier than I remembered. For one, there's the ghosts and Time's evil Horcruxes (I had to), and then there's Lead, who's likable, but who grins broadly and laughs in the gravest situations. Apparently he was played by a singer from the States, Val Pringle.
 
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paranoid marvin

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Just finished Assignment 1, and I'll have to say, it's a lot scarier than I remembered. For one, there's the ghosts and Time's evil Horcruxes (I had to), and then there's Lead, who's likable, but who grins broadly and laughs in the gravest situations. Apparently he was played by a singer from the States, Val Pringle.


I think many sci-fi shows of the period were quite spooky/scary back then, certainly in consideration of today's family audience. I'm not sure tv shows know how to be scary any more.
 

Danny McG

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then there's Lead, who's likable, but who grins broadly and laughs in the gravest situations
Whoa - You got my memory spinning now with other element characters!

Was there not one guy, who was a bit bitchy, called Silver?
 
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Dave

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It always annoyed me that they were not actually elements. It still does! Just not as much as I've come to realise that the teaching of science really is that poor..

(Sapphire is aluminium oxide: corundum. Steel is a carbon-iron alloy. Why is it diamond and not carbon? Is there also a graphite with a sibling rivalry?)

Those trans-uranic elements that cannot be used in the presence of humans - they must be real bad asses!
 

paranoid marvin

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They are more elementals than elements.

I thought it was quite chilling how they ended assignment 2; it shows they were/are not the benign beings they appeared to be in assignment 1.

In fact with both actors still living and still working, there is no reason why another assignment couldn't be produced. Although the ending was both chilling and memorable.
 

HareBrain

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I've started watching this again, and it's just as unsettling as I remember. In fact I'm amazed I sat through it as a kid, scaredy-cat that I was.

It's interesting that they didn't feel the need to bung in a load of supposedly creepy incidental music, or any incidental music. The best TV shows seem to share this trait.
 

paranoid marvin

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I've started watching this again, and it's just as unsettling as I remember. In fact I'm amazed I sat through it as a kid, scaredy-cat that I was.

It's interesting that they didn't feel the need to bung in a load of supposedly creepy incidental music, or any incidental music. The best TV shows seem to share this trait.

The only way to get decent scifi back then was to sell as kids/family tv. And that's before you mention the scarier Dr Who episodes.

When you look back on it, there are loads of kids scifi/fantasy/drama tv shows that were quite spooky and very watchable (and rewatchable today). Children of the Stones, Into The Labyrinth, King of the Castle, Chocky etc etc.

Sapphire & Steel was definitely more 'adult' and some of the things going on were very unnerving for a family tv slot. I reckon that most kids who watched it back then can remember the haunted train station, or the people with no faces. And apart from the episode with the children in it, there were few happy endings (the train station being one of the most chilling). Sapphire & Steel were not particularly benevolent beings. If someone had to suffer for 'time' to be adjusted , then it was a sacrifice they were prepared to make.

And I agree about the incidental music. There is a time and place for it (eg Jaws) but it has to be relevant to the show, and if you can do it without the incidental music having to tell us 'this is a scary bit' then when the fright happens, it's far more effective.

I feel the same about comedies with laughter tracks. If the show has to tell us when to laugh/what is funny, then it obviously isn't doing its job. And whoever thought up having a laughter track on MASH - I find it unwatchable with the canned laughter turned on.
 

Matteo

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I feel the same about comedies with laughter tracks. If the show has to tell us when to laugh/what is funny, then it obviously isn't doing its job. And whoever thought up having a laughter track on MASH - I find it unwatchable with the canned laughter turned on.
I remember that one time it was shown with the laughter track by mistake (can't remember the reason) and the BBC had loads of complaints.
 

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