Roland Watson -
Nick Watson -
Gavin J Morris
Adapted by -
Directed by -
OTHER FANTASY SHOWS
Mists of Avalon
Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire
Legend of the Seeker
The land of Elidor is in crisis. Evil stalks the countryside and the forces of good are scattered and defeated. The only hope lies in a prophecy of a singing unicorn and four treasures which must be smuggled out of Elidor and into the hands of four ordinary children.
ELIDOR is Alan Garner's most famous work (though we have a sneaking preference for The Wierdstone of Brisingamen) and this adaptation takes a stab at updating it for a modern children's audience. With mixed results. First off, ELIDOR looks great. Open moors and coastline are rendered into an alien landscape with fiery skies and washed out colours that speak of desolation. The animated castle, church and creatures are of variable quality, but mainly stand up. And at first sight the hunters that will dog the footsteps of the children are genuinely creepy.
Unfortunately, the longer the show goes on the less impressive it becomes. Open plot strands are left dangling (what's that shopkeeper in the first episode all about anyway? What happens to the witch?) and Malebron, the crippled king, is left wandering the wilds with nothing to do for the majority of the time. The hunters also spend most of the series doing not very much. They are supposed to be the threat to the children, a threat that pervades every page of the book, but their inability to get anywhere near the children means they just wander around hissing a lot.
The early stages of the adaptation are done well and create an impressively creepy atmosphere, but towards the end the story unravels dramatically and the climax is completely fluffed.
The actors, especially the children, aren't up to the job of making this something special either. They haven't really got the dialogue for it anyway, but the youngsters are earnest enough to get by whilst the adults are lost in the sort of pantomime preformances that seem to populate children's television.
ELIDOR is a genuinely classic fantasy for children and whilst this will do for the present there must be a better adaptation could be done.Top
In a war ravaged country, the forces of good are close to failure and something called the 'Treasures' must be safely hidden away by giving them to four children in another dimension, accessible only by passing through a gateway in a ruined church awaiting demolition. The Watson children, on a trip into town whilst their parents measure up their new house, are lured to the church and the youngest, Roland, passes through the gateway and finds himself alone in a hostile world.
Alan Garner's much-loved children's fantasy tale is getting a quality adaptation if this first episode is anything to go by. There is a pervasive atmosphere of fear and danger underpinning the half hour, whether it is the figure that most certainly is not a scarecrow, the creepy shop in the middle of nowhere, the crumbling backstreets of the city, the ruin of the church or the two hideous creatures roaming the waterside in the alternative world, searching.
Absolutely nothing is explained here. The set up is given at the beginning ('take the treasures to the children to keep them safe'), but the rest is left uncertain. Who is the figure and the witch he speaks to? Who are these horrible searchers and who is Malebron that they speak of? What are the towers of fire? What are the treasures? By not making everything (or anything) plain, the mystery is deepened.
The young performers aren't quite up to the task of carrying the show, but the target audience won't mind that. The dialogue they are given is fairly natural and the updating of the tale is nicely and unobtrusively done.
ELIDOR is off to a creepy, satisfying start and it remains to see if that can be maintained.Top
Roland, alone in the land of Elidor, chases a figure and is almost imprisoned in a ring of stones. Escaping this trap, he meets Malebron, the figure who brought him to the land and who proves to be its crippled king. He explains that Rolands brothers and sister are trapped in the Mound and only Roland can bring them, and the Treasures back out again.
The back-story to ELIDOR is explained at the tail end of this second episode, but before that there are some mild thrills to contend with. The perils that Roland is faced with are far too easily dealt with (the stones he just walks out of and the creature in the cave he stabs once, rather feebly), but the sense of oppression and doom lie heavily over the scene and the explosion of hate across the skies as the heroes dash for the gateway back to their homes is well-rendered.
The two hunters who were so creepy in the first episode lose some of their threat this time around since their magic proves so ineffective and they don't actually ever get anywhere near any of the heroes.Top
The Watson children manage to make it back through the portal into our own world only to find the ruined church coming down around their ears. The Treasures have changed into ordinary objects - a brick, a wooden sword, a piece of metal and a broken cup - but they still play havoc with anything electrical nearby. The hunters in Elidor, however, are stalking them on the other side of the veil and looking for a way through.
There's plenty of activity here as the kids first try to get home and then have to escape the church and have to figure out what to do with the Treasures which is enough to keep the audience occupied, but it doesn't add up to much or move the plot forward very much either.
The hunters continue to prove to be completely ineffective, though their presence is always there as a threat in the background.Top
The Treasures have been safely buried and their influence over the electricity in the area has diminished. The hunters in Elidor have located the point that corresponds to the front door of the Watson house and since he used it as the way into the mound to save his brothers and sisters, Roland has the power to make it the weak link between the two worlds.
The front door of the house is the focus of this episode and rarely has a door been so creepy, but there are only so many times that you can open a door in fear of what's on the other side before it gets repetitive.
The way in which the parents are kept in the dark as to what is going on around them, though, is entertaining.Top
Malebron summons the unicorn Findhorn and uses her to free the slaves taken by the hunters before opening the veil so that she can pass through into our world. Roland, determined to make the reluctant Nick admit what happened in Elidor forces him to see the hunters, which allows them through.
The hunters finally make it through to our side of the portal thanks to a particularly stupid move by Roland. This penultimate episode is somewhat garbled with Findhorn summoned and sent into our world for no readily apparent reason. If Malebron could have done this at any time then surely it would have been safer to do it much earlier.
And then there's the hunters who finally make it through to our side and see their prey up close, but are turned away by a couple of stones thrown by a boy? Doesn't seem likely somehow. Still, they have arrived and the players are in place for the final showdown.Top
The Watson children try to take the Treasures back to the ruined church where they first encountered Elidor, but are waylaid and the Treasures taken. Malebron is set upon by the gang of hunters and is unable to fight them all off. Is this the end for Elidor?
The big finale comes and there is too much of it to fit into the running time, making the ending totally rushed and unsatisfactory. There is a big face off in which Malebron and Roland face down the bad guys, but there is no explanation as to why Malebron didn't drown, nor how he could finally pass through into our world without the fiddle playing the magic note.
There's also no explanation as to why the unicorn must die and not even enough time for Malebron to say a quick thanks. It's a shame that an adaptation that started off so well ended so poorly.Top
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