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Category:    Home > Reviews > Fantasy > Literature > TV Mini-Series > The Chronicles of Narnia (1988 – 1990/TV Mini-Series/BBC DVD)

The Chronicles of Narnia (1988 – 1990/BBC DVD)

Picture: C-     Sound: C-     Extras: B-     Episodes: B

C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series has been subjected to several adaptations for radio and television, and has most recently turned up on the big screen in three feature films.  Still charming as ever, though, we have here the versions of the stories produced by the BBC in the ‘80s and early ‘90s.  These are arguably the most beloved of any incarnation of the series; showcasing a wide variety of then-impressive special effects, while being more wondrous and a bit more imaginative than the newer adaptations allowed for.

Collected in this set, we have all four of the miniseries as originally broadcast. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe and The Silver Chair are each comprised of 6 episodes, while Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader had their stories told in only 3 episodes each. The diminished length of these two stories gave little benefit to their telling, and they come off as rushed and disengaging when compared to the others.

My personal favorite of the bunch would have to be The Silver Chair.  It is more fantastical than the other tales, and through such encountering such things as a village of giants and a race of underground dwelling gnomes, one can see the influence that H.G. Wells likely had on this particular adventure.  Further appeal comes from the participation of the cult movie and TV personalities such as Warwick Davis (who also featured in the earlier series in different roles) and Tom Baker, best known as the fourth doctor on Dr. Who.

The picture quality on this set isn't all that great, but it is doubtful that the future will bring many improvements to these titles, as the soft detail is likely attributable to the original elements.  The aspect ratio of each series is preserved here in their original television framing of 1.33:1.  Sound for the series is also below average, but is serviceable, and presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono.

Extras on the set include a documentary on C.S. Lewis and his world of Narnia, as well as both new and old interview footage with the programs' casts.  Additionally, there are original segments from the classic BBC children's program, Blue Peter.

I recommend checking this out at least once, but fans of the series will doubtlessly wish to add this to their collection.  Overall, the content on this set has been well-handled throughout, and the bonus features add to it being a good candidate for purchase whether you are a newcomer, or are well versed in the material already.

 David Milchick


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