Sunday, 12 October 2014

The Tripods

The Tripods is a 1985 adaptation of the first two novels in John Christopher's series of novels, 'The Tripods'.  It tells the story of a world ruled by the 'Masters' in their huge metal three legged walking machines (the Tripods) and the adventures of the three young men who rebel against their 'capping'  - the method by which the Masters assert their control over the populace - and travel across the UK and France to join the free men in the 'White Mountains'.

The first series of 13 episodes tells of Will (John Shackley) and his cousin Henry (Jim Baker) who for fear of losing their independence as a result of the capping flee their English village home after meeting a 'vagrant' who tells them of the free men in the White Mountains of France.  Along the way they are helped by another young man Jean-Paul or Beanpole (Ceri Steel) who then travels with them to their destination.

The second series follows Will's exploits within the city of the Masters as he attempts to gather information that will help to defeat them.

With the third series never coming to fruition the series ends on a somewhat anti-climactic note but don't let that put you off.  The Tripods is a lovely piece of 1980s British sci fi television.  Like other sci fi serials of the time (Day of the Triffids, Quatermass) it's qualities belay the stylistic and technological drawbacks of the era that hit other series so hard (Doctor Who).  The Tripods themselves are reasonably accomplished, as are the Masters and their city.  Some of the acting from the predominantly young cast is a little naive but improves over the course of the two series. There are moments where things get a little bogged down - the boy's stay in the chateau goes on for far too long - but there are other times where you wish they'd lingered longer - the devastated remains of Paris - but the show gains kudos for remaining pretty close to it's source material and providing a cohesive and focused narrative over the course of so many episodes.

The playlist below contains all 25 episodes which should help you while away an afternoon or three or you can buy it here - Tripods - The Complete Series 1 & 2 [DVD]

Once you've finished you may also want to check out this little documentary on the series.


  1. Great show, if slow paced and insane they didn't finish the story, still loveable characters and story.

    1. It's my understanding that it's cancellation was part of Michael Grade's war on science fiction that also took Doctor Who off the air.