One of ITV's earliest dramas written specifically for children and a precursor to the development of Doctor Who, Sydney Newman's Pathfinders series is one of the most eagerly awaited archive television releases of all time.
Over three series the Pathfinders journeyed to the Moon and other worlds, proving tremendously successful with the viewing public and even getting into the regional top ten on occasion – unheard of for a children's programme. With intelligent and engaging scripts by Malcolm Hulke and Eric Paice, the Pathfinders faced drama at every turn - from space hazards to Venusian dinosaurs! – and this set contains all three series: Pathfinders in Space, Pathfinders to Mars and Pathfinders to Venus.
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This DVD set will probably be of most interest to people of a certain age with nostalgic memories of originally seeing this as children or aficionados of vintage television. I must have been about nine when I first saw this and, although I did not recall the details of the stories, I did have strong memories of finding it quite scary. The series preceded the original Doctor Who by a couple of years and, now being over 50 years old, it has to be viewed in the context of children’s’ television of the time. I never thought I would ever have the opportunity to see this again so for me, it was a chance to relive childhood memories. The performances are a little stagey and the pace rather slow for modern audiences but the storylines are quite engaging. Most of the action takes place on studio sets with some inserts using animated models and stock film clips from other sources. This looks very crude in comparison to present day standards and anyone expecting realistic special effects will be disappointed. According to the enclosed 38 page information booklet, each episode was taped “as live” in two continuous 13 minute segments on Ampex videotape. This technology was then in its infancy and, as editing was a complex and costly exercise, short of a total disaster requiring a complete retake of the whole segment, the recording was not stopped for issues such as fluffed lines and microphones appearing in shot. That being said, the sound and picture quality of the studio recordings is pretty good and better than the filmed inserts. Overall, this production is probably of minority interest but viewed in the context of its age, it has a historic charm. Thanks to Network DVD for giving me the opportunity to see this again.
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