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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

dream cast: (not so) hypothetical ‘Tripods’ movie

It’s Thursday, and that means it’s time to remake an 80s classic TV show or movie with an all-new cast. This week: Tripods, the 1984-85 BBC/Seven Network young adult science fiction series based on the novels by John Christopher [Amazon U.S.] [Amazon U.K.].

(This week’s Dream Cast idea comes courtesy of Ken. If you have a suggestion for an 80s TV show or movie we should play with, feel free to email me.)
Man, I was hooked on this show as a teenager. I was in such suspense, from week to week, waiting for each new episode to debut on my local PBS station, that I would tune in to the Channel 21 in the intervening week just so I could catch every snippet of coming attractions that I could. I cannot wait to see this again: It’s arriving on Region 2 DVD on March 23.

There’s no sign of a Region 1 release, but we may get that soon, because Touchstone has announced a studio adaptation of the books/TV series — now in development, it’s slated for a tentative 2012 release.

The premise of the story, for those who didn’t see the show (which is probably most of you), is that generations after aliens have subdued the people of Earth, having brainwashed humans into submission via an electronic skullcap and sent human civilization back to 18th-century levels, three teenaged boys set out on a quest to fight the fabled resistance to the invaders. Spoiler alert: they find it.

The original cast included:

Will Parker: John Shackley
Beanpole: Ceri Seel
Henry Parker: Jim Baker

I think we need to shift the gender of at least one of the main characters to female. My dream cast:

Will Parker: Cameron Bright
Beanpole: Michael Cera (though he’s really too old)
Henrietta Parker: AnnaSophia Robb

That’s assuming an American cast, not a British one, which is, alas, probably a good assumption with an American production. I’d prefer a British cast, but I’m not at all familiar enough with British child actors to even begin to make any choices.

I suspect we’ll see unknowns, or near unknowns, in the actual film.

Series trailer, which teased the show on the BBC:



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  • Ken

    I’d prefer a British cast, but I’m not at all familiar enough with British child actors to even begin to make any choices.

    Without plucking everyone from the Harry Potter movies, that would be tough.

  • Anne-Kari

    I never knew there was a tv series, but I read all the books and they totally FREAKED ME OUT. I just hope that if it do make a new series out of it, they are able to retain the sense of unease and fear that made the books so haunting.

  • Rick

    I loved those books, but didn’t know about the BBC series until today.

    Boys’ Life Magazine, the official Boy/Cub Scout magazine, serialized the books in comic form, one page per month, back in the early 80s. It was drawn by the person who draws Apartment 3G now (and I know who draws Apartment 3G because I read The Comics Curmudgeon.) I got as far as about midway through City of Gold and Lead before I quit Boy Scouts and stopped getting the magazine, but by then I had read all of the books (except for the prequel, which hadn’t been written yet) anyway.

    I didn’t know about the prequel book until around the turn of the century, so I picked that up and re-read the other three. The whole series still makes for a good read as a grownup, as it turns out!

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