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The Wrong End of Time - Review by David Convery

 

The very fact that Timeslip has been released on DVD means that it was always going to be good, especially with the modern advances in broadcast technology and restoration techniques. (Maybe the Technocrats have a case to answer after all???)

The initial opening is in colour, the Timeslip TV Theme hits you straight away as you watch the various scenes from the TWEOT story in its background and a very good image of Liz Skinner for all of the CB enthusiasts compliments this opening. The majority of fonts are in keeping with the original typeface all except the story title itself but in general this does not detract from the overall initial presentation.

There are 4 menu choices on this disc namely: Play All, Episode Index, Introduction to Timeslip, Subtitles.

The "Introduction to Timeslip" was written by Andy Thompson and gives a very good overview including the concept, characters, writers and merchandise. (Editor's note: This was actually a heavily abbreviated version of several individual pieces that were originally written for specific topics as per other Carlton cult television releases. The biggest casualty of editing was, obviously, the character/actor biographies.)

The series starts with an introduction by Peter Fairley who was the ITN space correspondent at that time and he gives a brief introduction by way of a poser scenario. The titles and credits have not been tampered with.

The initial scenes of the now derelict Naval Station are very good especially the pauses on certain shots like the concealed skirting board in Commander Traynor's office that will later become important. I particularly liked the attention to detail for example, wind and birdsong on scenes filmed in studio, the fact the trees were still moving on the right hand shots of the Time Barrier rather than a static photo inserted in to create the invisible barrier.

The Skinner family, Frank, Jean and daughter Liz who also have charge of Simon Randall are staying at a pub/hotel as is Traynor. Liz and Simon enter the field in daylight and pass through the Time Barrier into the night of 1940 into the grounds of the Naval Station. They see a group of German officers approaching the station and are taken away by a Naval guard. Inside the base, Simon sees early experiments on RADAR and both are introduced to the Stations commanding Officer...Charles Traynor.

A beautifully written piece comes where Simon tries to work out Traynor from the hotel and this Traynor who denies any knowledge of them. The somewhat confused expressions by Simon Randall again give credit to the Script writing and actors. The guard who caught them turns out to be Liz's future father, Frank. The Germans take over the Station and their leader Helmut Gottfried tries to find out the nature of the Naval Station's work. Traynor and Gottfried become re-acquainted through a previous science paper before the war.

Another wonderfully written piece here depicting the conflicts in loyalties, science, wanting to help but cant due to war, fighting for Germany not for Hitler and both actors (Denis Quilley and Sandor Eles) are truly convincing.

And so Jean finds a gateway into the past through her pre-cognisance ability and is able to see what Liz and Simon are doing. We learn about the accident that affected Frank's mind.

One of my favourite scenes is when Liz, Simon and Traynor are in the games room and she sees her Father and Traynor approaching the Naval Station. They run outside and confront them. Here we see two pairs of actors with simultaneous dialogue... excellent!

Time for Gottfried and party to leave with Traynor back to Germany having received more signalling information. Traynor pulls a gun on Gottfried and the pain on Traynor's face as he once against battles with his conscience and cant bring himself to shoot Gottfried.

 

And so we discover the signalling apparatus on the shelf behind the bar and with the rapid departure of Bradley (the non-competent) from behind the bar, we discover that he was a traitor. Traynor reminds Bradley that they would almost bring back hanging just to oblige him. Liz and Simon leave but not before Frank takes another bad turn and clearly Liz's affection for her future father is so natural. Liz and Simon then cross the barrier into the freezing cold.

The clarity and sound on the DVD is excellent. There were some occasional diagonal lines across the screen when the night scenes were shown but these are more than acceptable. There are breaks in each episode thus preserving the integrity of how the original programme was shown on TV and some episodes have the ATV and ITC logos at the end.

On a personal view only ("...and why not?" as Barry Norman would say), I would have liked a "Dedicated to the memory of...." included. Many people also ask about the Timeslip theme and this would have been an ideal opportunity to have the complete theme set in the background of the trailers/menus.

Having said that this story paves the way for the others. Even today I am still speechless as to the creative visions depicted, not just in this story but the entire series. The various sets were realistic even by today's standard. The interiors of the pub, the naval station offices (both derelict and thirty years previous), the casting of the actors... In short, everything was right. They don't make them like that anymore and the truth is, they couldn't even if they tried.

For those involved in Timeslip both past and present, those that have sadly departed and by no means least to Carlton...

Thank you.

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