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Well, this is irritating.

jd (1658) writes | more than 6 years ago

User Journal 3

Someone has trawled through YouTube and flagged not only the episodes of The Tripods, but also all fan productions, fan cine footage and fan photography of the series. How so, can't you buy it on DVD? Only the first season, the second exists only in pirated form at scifi conventions, and of course the fan material doesn't exist elsewhere at all. The third season, of course, was never made, as the BBC had a frothing xenophobic hatred of science fiction at the time. (So why they made a dalek theirSomeone has trawled through YouTube and flagged not only the episodes of The Tripods, but also all fan productions, fan cine footage and fan photography of the series. How so, can't you buy it on DVD? Only the first season, the second exists only in pirated form at scifi conventions, and of course the fan material doesn't exist elsewhere at all. The third season, of course, was never made, as the BBC had a frothing xenophobic hatred of science fiction at the time. (So why they made a dalek their general director at about that time, I will never know...)

What makes this exceptionally annoying is that the vast bulk of British scifi has been destroyed by the companies that produced it, the vast bulk of the remainder has never seen the light of day since broadcast, and the vast bulk of what has been released has been either tampered with or damaged in some other way, often (it turns out later) very deliberately, sometimes (again it turns out later) for the purpose of distressing the potential audience.

I've nothing against companies enforcing their rights, but when those companies are acting in a cruel and vindictive fashion towards the audience (such as John Nathan Turner's FUD of audiences being too stupid to know what they like, or too braindead to remember what they have liked), and the audiences vote with their feet, on what possible grounds can it be considered justified for those companies to (a) chain the audience to the ground, and (b) then use the immobility of the audience to rationalize and excuse the abuse by claiming the audience isn't going anywhere?

I put it to the Slashdot Court of Human/Cyborg Rights that scifi fans are entitled to a better, saner, civilized explanation, and that whilst two wrongs can never make a right, one wrong is never better.

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3 comments

lions and hyenas eat each other's young (1)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#23592799)

Because they are competitors. Corporate media never used to have to compete with amateur productions or older professional products. Now thanks to the Internet, they have to. And just like a hyena with a lion cub, when corporate media spots competition they can easily kill, they will never hesitate to do so.

sad (1)

jdray (645332) | more than 6 years ago | (#23599275)

If it is as you say, and some producer has flagged a bunch of fan-created material as "infringing," then yes, that's sad. For series that are so far out of print no one will ever watch them again, fan-posted episodes are the only way some of those things are going to be accessible. I can see giving out take-down notices for stuff available on DVD, but the rest is BS. Unless, of course, they're planning on re-releasing the whole kit on DVD. That still doesn't explain the fan material.

So, spare me from having to do a search; what's The Tripods?

Re:sad (1)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23602761)

The Tripods was the most expensive, elaborate BBC science fiction series of the 80s, based on a trilogy of books by the same name. The adaptation is considered one of the best transfers from book to small screen ever, and most of the changes made were due to serious errors in thinking by the original publisher being corrected. Set on post-apocolypic Earth, human civilization had been reduced to an agrarian society enslaved to the Tripods, mysterious three-legged machines that roamed the Earth. On their 16th birthday, a human got the dubious priviledge of getting a mesh implanted in their skull, which allowed the Tripods to control their every thought and action, eliminating violence from the majority of their slaves but also eliminating all curiosity and wonder. Not everyone so capped was affected the same way, a small minority going totally insane and wandering off as "vagrants".

A few episodes in, we discover that not all violent emotions are eliminated. A group of humans, known as The Black Guard, are specifically trained to use terror and indimidation to ensure runaways who are not capped cannot escape to one of the few refuges remaining in the world. If you evade capture by The Black Guard, heavily-armed Tripods patrol the remoter areas. Those who are spotted are then blasted out of existance or crushed out of existance. Rumours persist, though, of sanctuaries that the Tripods cannot reach, and a map is provided to the heros of the series as to where one such sanctuary exists. The map turns out to be wildly inaccurate, both in geography and in paths identified as safe.

This is where the BBC's DVD releases stop. This is also where one of the minor but recurring characters had to be recast, due to the actress being killed only a day or so after finishing shooting in an accident on the British motorways when a lorry driver basically flattened the car she was in.

A handful of uncapped people have fled to the Swiss alps and are holed up in caves there. The Tripods are not able to climb mountains or shimmy down caves, making this the last safe place on Earth. Their objective? To infiltrate and find weaknesses within the City of the Tripods. This they do - albeit with a poor survival rate - when they discover that the creatures who control the Tripod machines are planning genocide by "terraforming" Earth into a world they can inhabit directly with no need of such cumbersome life support systems.

On discovering this, one of the uncapped escapes to pass on the news, along with schematics and detailed analysis of the city. His escape is discovered and from there on, it is non-stop evasion, with the Tripods throwing everything they have at eliminating him. On his return to the mountains, he discovers utter destruction with smoke billowing from the holes that had once been the caves of safety.

This is the point the BBC cut the series completely.

The third book details how the heros of the story got out of that one.

At a cost of something like two million dollars an episode, with special effects that would rival any modern television production, and with the daring move of using completely unknown child actors for the main characters, the series bordered on what television companies at the time considered insane. Yes, The Tomorrow People had also used unknown and mostly child actors, but with an insignificant fraction of the budget and at an off-peak timeslot, thereby making it a much lower-risk affair. All episodes of The Tomorrow People are available on DVD, and the series was later re-licensed to Big Finish to continue in audio format. I'm not convinced it was always handled the best way possible, but it was handled with a modicum of professionalism.

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