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The Year of the Burn Up - Review

 

With their adventure in the Antarctic complete save a few choicely unanswered questions, Liz and Simon escape back to their present. It's not too long before the time barrier beckons again and the two depart for warmer climates... A world torn apart by the technocratic ruling caste bent on scientific progress at all costs. Britain is in the grip of an escalating heat wave caused by the unchecked terraforming of the world and there is nothing anyone can do to stop. There is little hope for anyone's survival.

The Year of the Burn Up is Timeslip at its most ambitious. Taking our teenage heroes into a fully realised society (as opposed to the compact bases of the previous two adventures), the story fleshes out not only in location but also in the developing relationship between Liz and Simon. The two sparring friends are both forced to confront their future selves in the form of a more homely Beth (last seen freezing over in the Ice Box) and Controller 2957 and to come to terms not only in the people they may become but also in the fact that if it wasn't a computer insisting they were incompatible, they'd have been lovers as well. In many respects, it's all too much for both of our adolescent heroes...

Add into the mix a clearly mad Commander Traynor and the threat becomes personal... particularly as far as Simon is concerned.

It's with its ambition that The Year of the Burn Up can be seen as a partial failure. There are some very wordy (but worthy) scenes between all the major characters but little is made of the society they inhabit beyond the offices of Whitehall and the encampment of Beth's "tribe." Where the adventure works is in its portrayal of the characters and the interplay between them. Mary Preston gives a bravura performance as Beth - totally accepting her's and the world's fate together with Liz and Simon's discomfort at confronting their future, with almost hysterical glee. David Graham is a perfect foil for her whilst Ian Fairbairn's chews the scenery as the single-minded villain, Alpha Four, with an interpretation that will contrast with his future appearance as the tortured Dr. Frazer in the final segment of the series. If Burn Up belongs to any single actor then its got to be Denis Quilley who, despite heavy and variable aged make-up, puts across with a dynamic and commanding flair the megalomania and schizophrenia of the future Traynor. The story reaches an apex with his speech about "Light and dark" and it's to the actor's credit that he doesn't allow his performance to upstage the younger members of the cast.

 

The DVD contains no extras but that's understandable... The story is two episodes longer than any of the other stories. The prints are better quality than the original VHS releases though not up to the same standard as the previous two discs though this appears to be a fault of the original prints as opposed to any mastering or authoring problem. Despite the ineffectual and somewhat basic presentation of the menus and packaging, the story shines through. Then again, who's interested in the frame when the painting is so well crafted?

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