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Very competently made, mystery why Mackenzie never went further
Idling around a few weeks ago I searched for Ace of Wands online and found a short video clip. I was prompted to buy a region 0 DVD of the surviving episodes (I live in the US now). But in 1970/71 I was a spotty kid in a London, UK School not having such a good time, so escapism like this show was great. I never really did watch shows about kids, I wanted to see grown up situations, like Dr. Who and Ace of Wands.
What I noticed about the show after receiving the DVD was that Ace of Wands is actually still quite watchable - some shows from the early 1970's I certainly can't watch now. I guess they mixed it up for the kid audience, so it was never dull. For some reason, my memory of the show was that it had a lot of atmosphere, but the sets were bad and the acting dire. On re-seeing the shows, that's certainly not the case. All the acting is good, and the sets were perfectly good for what I'm sure was a low budget venture. Michael Mackenzie as Tarot is very good in the lead and in no small way carries the show; at 6'2" he towers over most of the relatively short UK cast, but isn't aloof in the way he plays the role. I'm puzzled why Mackenzie didn't achieve lead status in UK films or other TV shows. No one ever really knows the reason for why one actor become big and others languish.
The first two series were wiped, which is a shame because I preferred Judy Loe and Tony Selby. Nowadays, it's not that unusual to see a UK star do children's TV. In the 1970's, it wasn't exactly a mark of accomplishment, and perhaps both actors felt career-wise it wasn't a good idea to hang around. Petra Markham (sister-in-law of Vanessa Redgrave) and Roy Holder are good enough in their roles in the third series though.
The stories often used to hinge on telepathy between Tarot and his assistant (Loe or Markham) and some were quite inventive. The show was replaced on ITV by the "Tomorrow People", which can actually be streamed on Amazon (I'm sure this is due to their status of being shown in the US - Ace of Wands wasn't).
I'm hoping Thames sold the show to another European countries and that someday the wiped episodes will surface. In the meantime, what's available is a good idea of what the show brought to kids in the early 1970's.
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