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happy day!

Heavens, what a weekend. After a fun but very late night on Saturday (from which I emerged miraculously unhungover for someone who went to bed at five), Sunday evening was spent at the house of barsine's parents, gazing at strange animals and stranger television. barsine is checking in on her parents' pets while they're away, and as these pets include Tommy the tortoise, with whom I have been besotted since I first heard of his existence many years ago, she invited daegaer and me over too. It's been a while since I've seen Tommy, but he's as delightfully dinosaur-ish as ever, stomping about the flower beds and refusing to eat the cucumber kindly offered to him. I was obsessed with having a tortoise as a small child, but unfortunately for me (and fortunately for tortoises in general) this desire coincided with the change in the law in the late '70s which banned the importing of tortoises to Ireland because the conditions in which they were transported were cruel. But Tommy had made it here before this change, and thrives to this day.

But it wasn't all tortoise-gazing. No, we also watched one of the strangest, most entertaining and most unnecessarily complicated pieces of television I've ever seen. I speak of Children of the Stones, a sort of Wicker Man/Village of the Damned for late '70s kids. You can read about the plot via that Wikipedia link, or rather, you can read about what the plot was apparently meant to be like, because the whole thing was so convoluted that us three viewers definitely didn't notice most of the details mentioned in that plot summary.

Basically, the programme was about a boy called Matthew and his professor father who come to live in a village where nearly all of the population are just a little bit too serene and happy, greeting each other with the strangely sinister expression "Happy day!" The village is surrounded by strange Neolithic standing stones which evidently have something to do with the villager's happy state, as does local squire Mr Hendrick. The only people who aren't happy are those who have recently arrived in the village, and of course they quickly turn up smiling blandly and wishing people "happy day". And they all go out at night and form a big creepy circle around the village. They're not quite erecting a giant wicker man, but you wouldn't be surprised if they did. So far, so creepy. Hurrah!


If only they'd left it at that. But no! They had to make it preposterously complicated, with magnetic ley lines and black holes and supernovas and Lord knows what else. And then they brought in the idea that the village was stuck in some sort of time loop where everything was going to repeat itself, which added an extra layer of unnecessary madness to the whole deranged thing. daegaer, barsine - did either of you realise that Hendrick was meant to have turned into a druid in the end? A druid whom, as far as I was concerned, had never once been mentioned throughout the series? Well, according to Wikipedia, that's what happened. It was all too much for us well-educated adults, so I have no idea how the average small child in 1977 managed to know what the hell was going on.

However, we were still enormously entertained, not least because of the hilariously inconsistent attitude of the characters to the bizarre happenings around them. One minute Matthew's dad was the ultimate rational scientist and the next he was blithly reacting to the news that the entire population of the village were roaming around chanting in the middle of the night by saying "oh, really? I suppose lots of country villages do that" as if weird pagan rituals were just another aspect of rural life. This was made even funnier by the actors' weird line delivery - they seemed to emphasise the completely irrevelant parts. So people would say things like "I found Hendricks' weird laboratory in the basement of the church. OH, AND I WOULD LIKE A SANDWICH NOW!"

So if you like weird '70s fantasy-horror and you can understand the plot, I strongly recommend Children of the Stones. It's probably best to watch it with other people though, if only to compare notes...

In non-weekend-related news, you may have noticed if you're not just reading this on your f-list that my LJ has had a change of colour scheme and now, strangely enough, matches the bedroom of me and Patsington (cream walls, pale blue woodwork). How fresh and new!

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( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
daegaer
Jun. 26th, 2006 09:55 am (UTC)
That's insane! It's like a whole other story, one that actually makes some sort of sense!

Hee! I'd better get back to drawing up the plans for my doomsday machine, OH AND I WOULD LIKE A PIECE OF CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH MY SCRAMBLED EGGS!
stellanova
Jun. 26th, 2006 10:01 am (UTC)
I know! Maybe the author of that entry read the novelisation and got all the details from that? Because most of that stuff definitely wasn't in the programme we saw! I mean, where did the druid bit come from?

Now to erect a stone circle in which I can enslave my neighbours. AND THEN I'LL GO FOR A RIDE ON MY RACER!
glitterboy1
Jun. 26th, 2006 10:53 am (UTC)
Nice colours! Your bedroom must look lovely.

How on earth have I missed this classic of children's TV? It sounds utterly insane fantastic! I must add it to my rental queue at once....
stellanova
Jun. 26th, 2006 11:03 am (UTC)
Thank you! I think our room would indeed look lovely if it wasn't filled with loads of stuff (including Patsington's infamous Pile of Stuff which covers the floor next to his bed. He announced ages ago (purely to taunt ME) that he had named this pile Adam "the first pile" and then, when he created ANOTHER pile (of clothes this time) on the 1950s pouff on the other side of the room, he announced that this was Eve, whom he had created from "Adam's rib - this manky sock!"

As you can gather, Patsington is a housekeeping nightmare. A rather entertaining one, though.

And yes, you've got to get your hands on Children of the Stones! It has to be seen to be believed (if not actually understood)...
glitterboy1
Jun. 26th, 2006 03:51 pm (UTC)
Nightmare indeed! Can you train him so that he least keeps all his piles of stuff on his side of the room....?
barsine
Jun. 26th, 2006 12:08 pm (UTC)
I liked the moment when Matt & Scientist Dad were in an extremely tight spot, just about to be zombified, but Matt still takes the time for some extremely unnaturally-acted 'banter' with his dad and says 'Aged brain grinds exceedingly slow!' in a strange, possibly meant to be Chinese (??) accent.

I also loved the way Margaret said 'I'm LONGING to see the house', when invited to dinner by someone they all suspected was an evil-druid-type lord of the manor.
stellanova
Jun. 26th, 2006 12:37 pm (UTC)
Yes, stupid Margaret! One minute she's all "ah yes, thanks to the gift of psychromancy [or whatever it was], your psychic child has discovered that everyone is being brainswashed and we are all in danger", the next she's "but I'd like to see the wallpaper of the brainwasher's mansion, so off I go!"

And that badly-timed banter was indeed (unintentionally) hilarious (and racist)!
daegaer
Jun. 26th, 2006 12:49 pm (UTC)
I remembered "So that's what goes on in Hendrick's peculiar dining room!" earlier today and then couldn't explain why I was laughing!
stellanova
Jun. 26th, 2006 04:14 pm (UTC)
Bwahahaha! I'm laughing at it too, now. Also at the mental image of his revolving chair...
daegaer
Jun. 26th, 2006 05:58 pm (UTC)
"It is TIME!" *revolves*
lizarfau
Jun. 26th, 2006 12:25 pm (UTC)
It's funny reading about this, because we watched this on DVD recently - I wanted it because I could vaguely remember watching it as a kid. All I could remember, though, was the stones and the way the villagers greeted each other by saying "Happy day!"

I really enjoyed it the second time round, I have to say - though, like you, I was totally mystified by much of it, and have no idea how I managed to get my head round it as a kid. Also, one has to wonder ... if no-one could leave the village, how the hell did food supplies come in? Hmm.

I was a bit disappointed that Adam and Margaret didn't end up together too, tragic that I am.
stellanova
Jun. 26th, 2006 07:09 pm (UTC)
I was very surprised that they didn't end up together! It seemed inevitable. And poor old Sandra ended up being turned to stone (OR DID SHE? She didn't appear in the alternate-reality at the end).

Anyway, I'm delighted to see that there is apparently a general Children of the Stones revival! And it's good to see that no one could figure out exactly what was going on. You're so right about the food, too - also, they seemed to have fairly modern technology, and the kids certainly had some stylish up-to-date '70s ensembles (ah, the joys of high-waisted flared slacks)...
lizarfau
Jun. 28th, 2006 05:26 am (UTC)
She was mentioned in the alternate-reality, though - Margaret said something about Sandra having said Matthew was the best in the class. So she must have survived the stone-turning!
felinitykat
Jun. 26th, 2006 01:02 pm (UTC)
Aww, lovely new colour scheme and backdrop.
leedy
Jun. 26th, 2006 01:34 pm (UTC)
Oh my goodness, that sounds ABSOLUTELY AWESOME.

Ooh, and lovely colour scheme.
stellanova
Jun. 26th, 2006 08:39 pm (UTC)
Perhaps if you're very good daegaer would let you borrow it...
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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