Tuesday, 30 October 2012

king of the castle

King Of The Castle, which was first shown in 1977, is a frustrating watch for even the most obsessed 70s children's TV fan – a must-see but also must fast-forward through. That's if you can find the whole series, which is more elusive than half the episodes of Ready Steady Go. The story: Roland, an overweight choir boy, escapes the bullies in his tower block by jumping into a broken lift, which then plummets into a warped world below that can only be escaped from by solving clues and finding keys. It's a journey as much of self-discovery as of finding the way back home, as Roland deals with characters strangely familiar from the world above. Pitched somewhere between Susan Hill's I'm The King Of The Castle and Franz Kafka's The Castle, it's got plenty of oddness going for it. There's the literary references you'd never expect in a mainstream children's drama (Beckett, Ballard, Pinter). There's a bold embracing of the council estate reality of the times (and the urban postwar dream gone sour) while its supernatural 70s TV peers explored rural myths, megaliths and, well, owls. There's some amazing visual images (pictured), by turns expressionist and surreal. There's Fulton McKay. But ... it is slow and a little clunky. Just a warning. Best enjoyed with the incredibly detailed appreciation at Sparks In Electrical Jelly.

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