DVD review: “The Tomorrow People” (1973 – 1979) 

“The Tomorrow People” (1973 – 1979) 

Television / Science Fiction

Sixty Eight Episodes

Created by: Roger Price

Featuring: Nicholas Young, Elizabeth Adare, Peter Vaughan-Clarke, Philip Gilbert, Stephen Salmon, Sammie Winmill, Dean Lawrence, Mike Holoway, Misako Koba and Nigel Rhodes

John: “I wonder if all those people who are desperate to have a close encounter of some kind have ever really thought about what it might mean.”

Hsui Tai: “What do you mean, John?”

John: “Just think what happened to the African Negro and the American Indian when they came into contact with the Europeans who had more advanced technology. Well, the Blacks were sold into slavery and the Indians almost wiped out.”

Released recently on DVD is the science fiction television series “The Tomorrow People” (1973 – 1979) which was a huge hit upon its release and was obviously influenced by a lot of science fiction, the most obvious is “Doctor Who” (1963 – present).

“The Tomorrow People”  concerns the emergence of the next stage of human evolution (Homo novis) known colloquially as Tomorrow People. Born to human parents, an apparently normal child might at some point between childhood and late adolescence experience a process called ‘breaking out’ and develop special paranormal abilities. These abilities include psionic powers such as telepathy, telekinesis, and teleportation. However, their psychological make-up prevents them from intentionally killing others.

Like many television shows of the time that were high concept, again like “Doctor Who” were made on small budgets and as time wore on those budgets only decreased, which makes very little sense, especially as they were successful in their early years. In something very obvious the way that the production company attempted to fight the reducing budgets was to reduce the episode count so by the time the final season aired there were only four episodes, I would argue that it is a bit of a stretch to call that a series, especially when the running time of each one is about thirty minutes. Possibly though this is why it is reasonably easy and cost efficient to release the series in one box set, it may seem hard going at the beginning of the seasons but it speeds up after series five.

Like many English series of the era the episodes look and sound acceptable especially on DVD, there is of course a lot of characteristic of cross-chroma interference which is typical of PAL material of this era, but otherwise 1970s videotape has rarely looked so good. A pass through the BBC’s Transform decoder, now routinely used by the Doctor Who Restoration Team, would probably have cleaned the PAL artefacts up. Even the film sequences are clean. A grading pass would have ironed out the inconsistencies between shots, and between the studio material and the film inserts.

There is a general lack of special features which is made even more obvious when put alongside other DVD and Blu-ray releases from the time released today which is a huge disappointment especially when many of the principles are still alive today. There are however commentaries on every episode, fact files and photo galleries.

Episodes

Series One

The Slaves of Jedikiah: Part 1 – 5: Adolescent Stephen Jameson doesn’t know it but he’s about to break out, and several other special teenagers, as well as two thugs, hope to find him when or before he does. Stephen has been abducted from the hospital by Ginge and Lefty, who take him to the mysterious Jedikiah. John, Carol and Kenny attempt to locate him and get him safely back to the lab.

The Medusa Strain: Part 1 – 4: Jedikiah is recovered from space by Count Rabowski, who is already holding prisoner Peter, one of the Time Guardians. Jedikiah tricks Peter into transporting them to the 20th century so he can get his revenge on the Tomorrow People.

The Vanishing Earth: Part 1 – 4: The Tomorrow People investigate a series of natural disasters which are threatening the entire planet. Meanwhile, Ginger and Lefty take a day trip to Clacton and encounter a sinister pier attraction.

Series Two

The Blue and the Green Part 1 – 5: John and Stephen find themselves with two mysteries to investigate – the possibility that Stephen’s new teacher Elizabeth M’Bondo is a Tomorrow Person and some worryingly accurate paintings of alien planets.

A Rift in Time Part 1 – 4: John and Stephen both begin having dreams about Peter and realise he is asking for help, but first they must track down a Roman vase that also appears in the dream.

The Doomsday Men Part 1 – 4: A new peace treaty is about to be signed but the Tomorrow People are worried about the Doomsday Men, an organisation dedicated to the perpetuation of war. Stephen is sent undercover at the same school as the grandson of the group’s leader.

Series Three 

Secret Weapon 1 – 4: John, Liz and Stephen sense the breakout of a new Tomorrow Person, Tyso Boswell. Unknown to them, however, he has already come to the attention of Professor Cawston, who introduces him to the mysterious Colonel Masters.

Worlds Away 1 – 3: The Tomorrow People are visited by Timus, an ambassador from the Galactic Federation. He tells them of the planet Pyrie, where telepaths are oppressed by the servants of the alien Khultan, and asks them to go there to help them.

A Man for Emily 1 – 3: A group of aliens stop off on Earth for supplies, but since their only knowledge of Earth’s culture comes from watching cowboy films, it is not long before their visit results in violence and the Tomorrow People become involved.

The Revenge of Jedikiah 1 – 3: When one of his colleagues goes missing after an expedition to Egypt, Professor Cawston goes to the Tomorrow People for help. They soon realise the expedition unearthed Jedikiah, who is attempting to track them down.

Series Four 

One Law 1 – 3: John, Liz, Stephen and Tyso return to Earth to see if any more Tomorrow People have broken out in their absence. They sense the presence of another telepath, Mike Bell, and decide to leave him to break out in his own time. Unfortunately, his abilities have already attracted the attention of some criminals.

Into the Unknown 1 – 4: A spaceship is detected near Earth. John and Stephen jaunt aboard to collect the pilot, Kwaan, who has been injured. When Mike goes up to the ship on his own, it results in several of the Tomorrow People being trapped on board.

Series Five

The Dirtiest Business 1 – 2: The lab is invaded by the SIS, who inform the Tomorrow People that Pavla, a telepathic girl working for the KGB, has gone missing in London. The Tomorrow People must try to protect her from the intelligence agencies of two countries.

A Much Needed Holiday 1 – 2: The Tomorrow People take a holiday on the planet Galia, but when they come across two runaway slave boys, it becomes clear more goes on than they were first aware.

The Heart of Sogguth 1 – 2: A stranger, Jake, offers to manage Mike’s band, but when Liz learns that he is the leader of a religious group called the Hearts of Sogguth, she begins to wonder what his motives are.

Series Six

The Lost Gods 1 – 2: During solo flights in John’s glider, Mike’s mind connects strongly with an emerging Tomorrow Person, a sacrificial priestess in an Asian temple.

Hitler’s Last Secret 1 – 2: Adolf Hitler’s genetically engineered 40-year-plan for world domination unfolds prematurely.

The Thargon Menace 1 – 2: A Thargon slimship crash-lands on a Pacific island under the control of the infamous dictator General Papa Minn. When the Tomorrow People investigate, the crew claim they are on the run from Thargon slavers.

Series Seven

Castle of Fear 1 – 2: The Tomorrow People all dream of a headless Highlander and suspect a new Tomorrow Person of breaking out. This is Andrew Forbes, a boy with the power to create illusions – but his father is far from pleased with his new abilities.

Achilles Heel 1 – 2: Two aliens come to Earth to mine a rare mineral that can rob all intergalactic Tomorrow People of their special powers.

The Living Skins 1 – 2: A shopping trip sees Mike and Hsui Tai purchasing the new bubbleskin jumpsuits. When they subsequently exhibit strange behaviour, the other Tomorrow People wonder if there is more to the new fashion craze than meets the eye.

Series Eight

War of the Empires 1 – 4: Liz has travelled to the Trig to join Timus in negotiating a peace between the Sorsons and the Thargons. They are unsuccessful, and soon both races are encroaching on Earth’s solar system.

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