When three kids explore a coach house held by a missing uncle, they discover far more than they bargained for when two robots, Otto and Theta, appear to tell them about a conspiracy against the town. By accident, they also discover a teleport machine that can take them to the planet Trialveron controlled by the alien tyrant, Duneedon. Against this threat, the kids decide to use the coach-house as the base for a community newspaper both to keep the building and to investigate the conspiracy. Along the way, they learn about writing and its various practical uses as they fight the alien forces that oppose them.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
The show began airing on PBS in the United States soon after its TVO debut, and it was regularly rerun throughout the 1980s and 1990s. See more »
Did you really think that you could tell Duneedon what to do.
What are you going to do?
I'm going back to Earth and you shall remain here on Alderon.
You can't just leave us here.
I can do as I please.
[King Titan Laughing.]
He who laughs last dies first.
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I first caught this series back in 1980 on PBS, way back when most Americans only had four TV networks to choose from. I was a wee lad who couldn't yet read, and I don't know if the educational aspect sunk in at the time, but I consistently found myself engrossed in the story. The main thing that stuck with me throughout my entire life was the image of the evil, silver, disembodied head that belonged to the show's resident villain, Duneedon. As a little kid, he sent shivers up my spine, and seeing the series now, it's easy to see why. Sean Hewitt's menacing glare, eerie voice and maniacal laugh still haunt my nightmares!
Watching the show today, it's extraordinarily dated but no less entertaining than it was all those decades ago. The show's resident Artificial Intelligence - talking computer Theta and her printer sidekick, Otto - seem ridiculously obsolete in this modern computer age, but they have a kitschy charm. It's sort of funny that the printer, who doesn't actually speak, has all of the best one-liners in the series! As for the other effects, some are quite obviously blue screen and cheap which, combined with the shot-on-video look, is very reminiscent of the old "Doctor Who."
The characters are each distinctive, though a few of the cast members had a pretty limited acting range (it's easy to see why Lynne went from just a member of the ensemble to the lead - and it's strange that she never went on to bigger things). Guest characters like The Queen of Hearts, Captain Hook, and the clown haired Dr. Crystal Couplet were a perfect blend of kiddie show whimsy and over-the-top adult camp.
The second season is entertaining too, but it completely lacks the focus of the first. The initial batch of episodes center on time travel to The War of 1812 (arguably the weakest part of the series - with the dumbest explanation and resolution), then there's a fun trip to fairy tale land, a drawn-out goodbye to a lead character, an off-the-wall 2-episode haunting, and finally Duneedon and Dr. Couplet return for a multi-episode-arc leading to the series finale. For a season that's split into book chapters, it doesn't feel especially cohesive, and most of the newly-introduced characters are forgettable (or instantly forgotten, like The Book Destroyer, whose storyline doesn't have a proper resolution). It's certainly not bad, but obviously they didn't have a clear vision of the season's overall arc, so it's not nearly as engaging as the first season... until they get back on track near the end.
As a kid, I don't think I realized how much they were pushing the educational content in the show, and there are times when they really beat viewers over the head with it. Most episodes feature lengthy plot points where the kids have to solve riddles or learn the meanings of words for either the newspaper or to escape one of Duneedon's traps. There were a few times when it was tedious as an adult -- I instantly deciphered the puzzle while they spent five minutes of screen time on it -- but I have to give props to Clive Endersby for his clever way of blending the education and the sci-fi story.
Perhaps it's only nostalgia, but if I were to have seen the series for the first time today, I think I'd still enjoy it. In our modern ADD society, youngsters would probably be bored with it (or at least find the effects laughable), but it holds a very special place in my heart - and it's clear to see that I'm not alone in my sentiments.
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