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Assignment 3 discussion [contains spoilers]

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AbFabLaur89

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Post 12 Jan 2009, 07:31

Assignment 3 discussion [contains spoilers]

Here's the place to discuss Sapphire & Steel Assignment 3: The Creature's Revenge!

Fire away! :party:
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Timeless A-Peel

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Post 06 Jun 2010, 18:42

Re: Assignment 3 discussion [contains spoilers]

Once again, I get to be the first proper post in one of these threads. Yay! :hyper:

Since I only had one episode of Assignment 2 left to watch, I decided to dive straight into Assignment 3 right after. S&S episodes are like potato chips--you can't watch just one. Once you've settled in you've got to watch at least two. Or, in this case, four. :grin: So I watched the first three episodes of Assignment 3 last night.

The first two assignments were done in 1979, so this is the first to be made in the bright new decade that is the eighties. Ah, 1980. Still pre-A2A, but already the decor and furniture of the apartment the futuristic family is living in is starting to show signs of the grey/white/pink decor that would come to typify the eighties. Very soon people are going to lose their heads completely and start thinking shoulder pads, big hair, and ugly shapeless boxy clothes are really good ideas. The old joke about the seventies being the decade taste forgot always seems about ten years off to me--eighties fashion was hideous. I've seen a lot of eighties TV. Not one person outside the cast of Remington Steele wore one decent outfit. Not one. It was really, really bad. (Good period for animation, though. :thumb: ) Thankfully, Joanna is spared from the ugly eightiesness via her little Chinese pant suit, which I've seen before in numerous screengrabs. I'm not quite sure what I think of it, other than the boots are awesome, but at least it doesn't make her look like a giant rectangle. She's also put a wig on this time around, having decided it would be a really good idea to cut all her hair off and dye the remainder red for whatever reason. Maybe just to mess with Shaun O'Riordan's head. :lol: Regardless, we all know what's under that straight blonde do. When she's outside in the wind I sometimes wonder what'll happen if it blows off. :whistle:

Speaking of which, this one is a break from the previous two in several ways, the first of which is the use of location shooting and footage—we have a connection to the outside world, and it changes the atmosphere hugely. All the claustrophobia is gone, though you can feel them trying to reestablish it by having the futuristic family stuck in their little flat. But all that does is make it feel like we’re watching two different shows. We have the family and their happenings outside, and S&S wandering around outside and, sometimes, the inside of the block of flats, trying to figure out what’s going on and how to get in. I’m not quite sure how successful this formula is. Half the fun of the show is the human/S&S interaction, and three episodes in there’s been nada. I assume this will change—for once the humans have a bit of a leg-up, being 1500 years more advanced—so they should be able to match our elemental heroes pretty well. Hoping this changes.

Again, the outside shots…well, there’s something wrong about seeing S&S out in the bright, stark world of a 1980’s urban centre (wherever it is—anyone know which British city/town they shot this in?). There’s none of that warm cosy feel of Assignment 1, or the dark creakiness of 2. Location filming means more money in the budget, but did they really need it for this? TNA was all about location. I think S&S is less so—sets fit it better. It’s nice that they’re trying a change of pace, but I don’t think this is helping.

Joanna would probably agree, for completely different reasons. For someone who suffers very extreme, almost violent, bouts of vertigo, she manages to end up somewhere high off the ground in pretty much everything she does: dangling out of helicopters, running around rooftops and army assault courses in TNA; hanging around on top of New York office towers in AbFab; and crawling out onto little skinny beams over huge drops in Class Act. Now she gets to spend most of an episode on top of a block of flats. How she kept her sanity through all of these is news to me. (Also, why are S&S afraid of falling? What’ll happen to them if they do? They’re not really mortal, are they? Can they really get turned into street pizza, as one of my childhood cartoons so eloquently put it? Inquiring minds want to know!)

With the break in mood comes two other changes. You can feel that, with a new year and batch of shooting, they’re tinkering with the formula. First, there are traces of humour. One and Two were pretty much humour-free. In this one they’re more willing to play Steel for laughs as he goes around tying knots in cables and getting one-upped by Sapphire, who they’ve start writing more assured this time around (finally!). I’m also starting to see more of the sexual tension that everyone’s been talking about—they’re awfully tactile this time around, more than is really needed to get the job done. It’s like Purdey with her hands all over Gambit in “Dirtier by the Dozen” (Pause for happy thoughts about this. Moving on…) In this sense, there’s a real feel of growth, both in terms of writing and characterization—they’re willing to move the dynamic along, rather than leave it static, which is a good thing. And so is the humour. One question, though—how come S&S only choose to disappear/reappear for transportation purposes sometimes? Why skip walking across a room and then climb the stairs yourself? I know it’s really because they’re showing off the special effects, but can’t use them all the time, but in terms of show logic it’s a bit confusing. Can they disappear whenever/wherever they want or not?

Poor Sapphire disappears altogether at the end of episode 2, leaving Steel all on his lonesome. That’s okay, though, because he’s soon joined by Jonathan Ross. No, no, sorry: Silver. S&S fans love Silver, and, presumably, his floppy hair. I haven’t seen enough of him to tell if I agree, but I can tell Steel likes him about as much as Gambit likes Larry in “The Three-Handed Game,” i.e., not at all. He’s also making a play for Sapphire. Suddenly all these elemental people have sex lives, apparently. They didn’t back in ’79. I’m still not quite sure how that works, but I’ll go with it. Silver clearly likes having the upper hand. He also likes shiny objects, which he can make into all sorts of neat junk. I was entirely too entertained by his glowy humming lightbulb. We’ll see what else he does over the rest of the story.

I’ve gotten this far without really mentioning the plot. This is the flying pillow episode shown on Wossy. I know the story’s down to animal cruelty, as I’ve read about it elsewhere. Joanna was very big on this story, due to her well-know vegetarianism and campaigns against animal cruelty, so this one meant a lot to her. The shots of the slaughterhouse in episode one got the show in trouble with the censors, I believe—they were considered inappropriate, but they’re definitely upsetting and visceral. I don’t get quite what any of it has to do with the rapid-grow baby (who never got a screen credit, I notice), nor why it is that the dead bodies of the other two time capsules don’t pop up in any of the rooms viewable via the communication screens. Sapphire must find them, because she says they’re dead, but we don’t see them. Are they all in the coat closet? The bathroom? Where?

Maybe the rest of the eps will explain…
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Timeless A-Peel

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Post 07 Jun 2010, 17:50

Re: Assignment 3 discussion [contains spoilers]

I had to ask.

"Where are the bodies in the other capsule?" I asked. "You can't see them in any of the rooms." Yeah, well, I didn't count on the "don't look in the bedroom with the camera" rule, where, of course, all the bodies were, the whole family having killed itself. Including the kids. :no: That must be one of the grimmest things they've stuck in the show thus far. And kids watched this no less!

Elsewhere, Sapphire cozies up to Silver, putting his collar down and leaning on his shoulder, and having fun teasing Steel with him. I don't know if elements can get jealous, but Sapphire's certainly making a good attempt to get a rise out of Steel--it feels very much like one of those TNAs where Purdey would act interested in a fellow agent just to get Gambit's goat. And, like in TNA, the instant things get serious and down to business, it's Steel she aligns herself with, while Silver ignores their warnings about the rapid-grow baby, insisting it's a machine, and ends up getting sent "back to his origins." So, Silver: flippant, light-hearted, good with the technical and making new things out of shiny bits. Not so good at the investigation part of things. He's a fun character, infitnitely more charming than Steel, and better at getting information out of people. I don't know if it'd be good to have him around all the time, but it would probably be nice to see him again. I don't suppose he's recurring?

The rules that govern S&S continue to be vague. Are they human? Do they only have human characteristics when they're here on Earth? They're afraid of falling. Sapphire cuts herself to smear her blood on the machine. Steel is tricked into strangling Sapphire and worries that he's hurt her. So they must have some corporeal links, all of which add a little extra drama.

We actually get a running joke, too, with Steel going on about his "excellent origins" after Sapphire says she can't imagine him as a kid. He really wants her to know he had the elemental equivalent of a good upbringing. I can just imagine him as a little element, alinating all the other little element kids. Awww... ^^

It's strange, because I'm glad to see the humour, but at the same time it feels a bit wrong in the series after getting used to there not being any. All shows usually benefit from a little funny bit, but I think I got used to the tense grimness of it. It doesn't quite slot in effortlessly. If they keep it up, it might start seeming more natural.

Now, the plot. Well, I can see why this one isn’t a favourite. The idea of animals revolting after centuries of abuse, ending in their being used to power the time machine in bits and pieces, is a good one, but I feel as though it wasn’t really used to its full potential. Only the first and last episodes really directly link the animal suffering to the things that are happening. In between the plot sort of meanders via the device of the rapid-grow baby. There’s never any apparent reason why the machine chose to grow him and make him make everyone go into the past or future. It doesn’t feel directly related to the animals or their cause. What does it have to do with much of anything? It’s all a bit of a run-around, and I found that by the time they went to wrap everything up, I’d sort of forgotten who the perpetrator was and what the motive was. Why is it only that the death of the future people will save everyone? Won’t the machine just try to off other people if it can, or just sit there with no one left to torment? Can it get out into the larger world? We don’t really know. Just that if the future people die, it’ll go away, but if they live and are sent back, the machine goes with them. “It’s their problem,” Sapphire says, and it is in a way. They’re there to put the capsule back, no more. Anything else isn’t a time problem, although won’t it just resurface elsewhere and need their attention then? I suppose this is Sapphire being callous—she’s on the animals’ side, not the humans—but I can see her point. Still, it seems like a bit of an open-ended resolution, and the meandering plot doesn’t help. Probably the weakest of the three stories. It’s the extras—Silver, the humour—that are the good bits. Let’s see if they can strike a balance in future stories.
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Kim

Post 08 Jun 2010, 04:06

Re: Assignment 3 discussion [contains spoilers]

This was an episode that actually made me physically ill. Granted, I had the flu at the time I watched it, but still and all this was not an episode I enjoyed very much even though I did like Silver and the humorous aspects. It will probably be some time before I can watch this one again as the thought of it still makes me nauseous.
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Timeless A-Peel

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Post 08 Jun 2010, 04:22

Re: Assignment 3 discussion [contains spoilers]

Kim wrote:This was an episode that actually made me physically ill. Granted, I had the flu at the time I watched it, but still and all this was not an episode I enjoyed very much even though I did like Silver and the humorous aspects. It will probably be some time before I can watch this one again as the thought of it still makes me nauseous.


I've had episodes of shows that do that to me, too--the rose petals from Torchwood and the bit in Doctor Who where Tim McInnery ripped off his face and turned into an Ood. The latter made me regret the pizza I'd had for dinner, and very nearly revisited it all over the papers I was marking. This one was pretty gross--the bits with the slaughterhouses are pretty hard to stomach. I don't blame you for not stomaching it. PJ Hammond can do that sort of stuff pretty darn, er, viscerally. :yuk:
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Mara

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Post 08 Jun 2010, 11:05

Re: Assignment 3 discussion [contains spoilers]

Timeless A-Peel wrote:I've had episodes of shows that do that to me, too--the rose petals from Torchwood and the bit in Doctor Who where Tim McInnery ripped off his face and turned into an Ood. The latter made me regret the pizza I'd had for dinner, and very nearly revisited it all over the papers I was marking.


I haven't yet seen assignment 3 so I don't want to interfere in the S&S discussion but just to let you know, Timeles: I absolutely felt the same way after watching that particular episode of Doctor Who. :confused: I felt grossed out and sick in my stomach after watching it. Just thinking of it still gives me chills, in actual fact.
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Kim

Post 08 Jun 2010, 13:43

Re: Assignment 3 discussion [contains spoilers]

I don't need extreme visuals in a movie/tv show. I've never seen Torchwood or Dr. Who and from your descriptions, I probably never will.

Graphic visuals ruin movies in my opinion. It's as if the director thinks the audience doesn't have a vivid enough imagination to appreciate what he/she's trying to convey. I'd rather a movie make me jump with the use of lights, sets, music, and insinuation rather then in-your-face blood and gore.
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Timeless A-Peel

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Post 08 Jun 2010, 17:06

Re: Assignment 3 discussion [contains spoilers]

Mara wrote:
Timeless A-Peel wrote:I've had episodes of shows that do that to me, too--the rose petals from Torchwood and the bit in Doctor Who where Tim McInnery ripped off his face and turned into an Ood. The latter made me regret the pizza I'd had for dinner, and very nearly revisited it all over the papers I was marking.


I haven't yet seen assignment 3 so I don't want to interfere in the S&S discussion but just to let you know, Timeles: I absolutely felt the same way after watching that particular episode of Doctor Who. :confused: I felt grossed out and sick in my stomach after watching it. Just thinking of it still gives me chills, in actual fact.


It seemed really unnecessary and gratuitous, that scene--what must the kids have thought! It's Tim! Tim does a nice little twitch when Stephen Fry calls him "Darling." He doesn't rip his face off! That was just wrong on so many levels. Why couldn't he have regenerated into an Ood or something? Did we really need to see that? Did it really further the plot? :confused: I'm glad I'm not the only one it made queasy, though.

Kim wrote:I don't need extreme visuals in a movie/tv show. I've never seen Torchwood or Dr. Who and from your descriptions, I probably never will.

Graphic visuals ruin movies in my opinion. It's as if the director thinks the audience doesn't have a vivid enough imagination to appreciate what he/she's trying to convey. I'd rather a movie make me jump with the use of lights, sets, music, and insinuation rather then in-your-face blood and gore.


Well, Torchwood is supposed to be the all sex/violence/swearing Doctor Who counterpart, but that episode I keep citing came from PJ Hammond himself. There's something profoundly disturbing about rose petals spilling out of people's mouths as they choke on them. I don't know if he'd have put that in S&S or not. Doctor Who is less brutal, but it frequently does stuff that I wouldn't expect from a family show. I watch it half for its cultural relevance really--it's hard to read SFX if you don't know your Who. But I don't really like graphic stuff, either. I'm not into horror movies at all, or gore. I have a higher tolerance than I did, but I tend to weed stuff out if the upsetting stuff is just too much, or if there's not enough other good stuff to make it tolerable. But no slasher flicks for me, thanks.
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Kim

Post 08 Jun 2010, 17:14

Re: Assignment 3 discussion [contains spoilers]

I do love a good psych horror now and then. Something that plays with my head. You KNOW it can't happen, but what if it DID?
The episode Too Many Christmas Trees and The House That Jack Built, are exactly what I like. No blood. No gore. Just great atmosphere.
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Timeless A-Peel

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Post 08 Jun 2010, 17:29

Re: Assignment 3 discussion [contains spoilers]

Kim wrote:I do love a good psych horror now and then. Something that plays with my head. You KNOW it can't happen, but what if it DID?
The episode Too Many Christmas Trees and The House That Jack Built, are exactly what I like. No blood. No gore. Just great atmosphere.


Sometimes I like psych horror, sometimes I can't bear it, and sometimes it just gets on my nerves and I get impatient with it. Depends on how well it's executed, and the subject matter. It's all a matter of subjective likes, I think. House that Jack Built/Too Many Christmas Trees are fan favourite episodes, but I wouldn't label either of them a favourite--there are loads of other episodes that I'd rate above them. But I think Take-Over is brilliant. Go figure.

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