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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Adventure > Fantasy > Battles > Children > British TV > The Black Arrow – The Complete Series (1972 – 1975/VCI DVD Set)

The Black Arrow – The Complete Series (1972 – 1975/VCI DVD Set)


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Episodes: C



The Black Arrow is one of Robert Louis Stevenson’s lesser-known creations and has been produced in live action versions on and off since 1911, with Louis Hayward the best-known actor to play the character in a 1948.   However, the longest-running version is a British children’s show from the early 1970s and it has arrived on DVD in a Complete Series set from VCI Entertainment.


Simon Cuff has the role here, along with his secret identity as Richard Shelton.  This version lasted three seasons, consisted of half-hour shows and ran out of material from the book by the second set of shows.  Filmed in what was likely 16mm film with a slowly increasing use of PAL analog videotape, the shows are not bad for a young audience, but are limited in their story range since they are supposed to be simple adventures.


One of the few shows from the Southern Network (now part of ITV), most of the actors are unknowns, though Nigel Havers turns up in a few of the later shows as does William Squire (Callan).  I think it is a good show for a young audience what might be really interested, but I was otherwise bored by what I saw as repetition and the makers are lucky they got so many seasons and 20 shows out of all of this.


The 1.33 X 1 image is a little soft throughout, no matter the shooting format with some flaws and even strained shots, but this is likely just the condition of the material that survived.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is better, as clean and clear as can be expected for a production of its age.  There are no extras save trailers for other VCI releases.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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