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6:45pm on Tuesday, 18th October, 2011:

Fall of Eagles


A few weeks ago, I bought the DVD boxed set of a 1974 TV series I remembered watching a few episodes of and enjoying: Fall of Eagles. It's about the fall of the Hapsburg, Hohenzollern and Romanov (ie. Austrian, Prussian and Russian) dynasties from the early 1850s to the end of the First World War. I'm quite interested in this period of history (it's why I set my young adult novel in 1869) because of the way it shaped our world today.

Anyway, today I got around to watching the first episode of the series. I was expecting to be struck by seeing the youthful versions of now-famous actors (acting alongside their then-peers who have since fallen into relative obscurity). I was also expecting to see scenes of people gratuitously smoking cigars, which you wouldn't encounter in a costume drama today. However, I was not expecting to find the production values as distracting as I did. The difference between the interior and exterior shots is really quite noticeable. I don't think it's the fact I'm watching it on a modern LCD monitor rather than an old CRT TV, either; the lighting for the interiors is crisp, but for the filmed outside scenes it's more fuzzy and subdued.

Dredging up some memories of other British TV shows from the 1970s (Colditz, Dr Who, Fawlty Towers), yes, this is indeed how TV shows looked. The outdoor scenes (which were shot on film) are of visibly different quality from the indoor scenes (which were shot on VT). I think I noticed at the time, but it didn't really register enough to be distracting. I wonder why not?

Maybe it's because I don't watch so much TV nowadays.

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Copyright © 2011 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).