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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