|Index||4 reviews in total|
Sometimes one wonders how the very best drama series' manage to
disappear into utter obscurity. Unavailable in the UK for decades the
copyright owners of this cracking historical drama really do need their
knuckles wrapped for allowing such a gripping and faithful historically
based record gather dust in an obscure film library somewhere.
Characterisations are sharp as a needle and the witty wartime banter alternates well with the seriousness of losing ones colleagues to tragic accidents, mistakes and enemy fire. Original wartime footage, much of it colour, is inter-cut bringing a genuine wartime tension to the small screen.
War, ironically, can bring out the best in people. As vanity, ego and other trifling worries are left behind, self-sacrifice, wit, and devotion to duty are the only parts of one's character worth a bean.
All in all a forgotten gem of a series which, considering original Pathfinder war heroes contributed throughout the script development process, should have been repeated many times on TV.
The trueness to history certainly comes across as the squadron battle episode after episode with new developments on the Nazi side and sometimes struggle with their own side to get the support they need to ensure bombing raids on the Nazi industrial targets are as effective as possible.
I'm off home now to watch the final two episodes - happy as Larry that someone has seen fit to dig this good old-style drama series out. Time to disconnect the TV aerial maybe as this kind of show could never be made today. Writers and commissioning editors are not made of such steely stuff and probably never will be again. Watch it and learn what our forefathers (and some WAAF's too!) did to protect our and our children's freedoms back in the 1940's.
Pathdinders is a very good TV series from the 1970s which I found in my
local library as a 12 part DVD. I'd never heard of the series before (I
was only 5 years of age in 1972) yet it is surprising that this has
never been re-shown on TV down the years. Incredible.
Sadly, the producers only seem to have had use of one Lancaster during filming as that's all you ever see. But the reconstuction of the pathfinding raids over Germany is first class. Of course, some episodes are totally unrealistic, like the one where three of the crew go on the run in Germany - it turns a little bit into a sort of Keystone Cops episode, with the Germans made out to be utterly stupid and naive.
Very good, however.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As the other reviewers have said, this was a much thought of show at
the time. (13 episodes, I seem to remember, being shown on ITV late
night on a weekday evening, perhaps a Wednesday).
The technical ability of the show, only shows up a little dated/jaded at times but more than made up for this with old war footage and new, plus the added bonus of good acting, action and scripts/stories.
Though some episodes, in an aviation/drama scenario were somewhat strange (A young Dennis Waterman as a reluctant prospective bomber pilot being talked into fighting by a severely wounded aviator in his ward), it was still a great series and yet, as the other reviewers have said, it hasn't had the deserved more airtime, if you'll pardon that phrase.
The British RAF's Pathfinder force of WW2 made a significant contribution to the war effort and in winning the final victory - for that reason alone and to honour the sacrifice of those who died and the veterans left behind, British, Commonwealth and other foreign aviators within the RAF, I find this really quite shameful.
Nevertheless, the great performances by Robert Urquhart as 'Wingco' MacPhearson and his sidekick, the doc, played by Jack Watling and a host of other sometimes established, sometimes waiting to be, British TV stars was a real treat on those late evenings.
The series had the technical assistance of Group Captain Hamish Mahaddie who had also advised on the film, 'The Battle of Britain' and he was seen being interviewed on 'The World at War' TV series (Episode: 'Whirlwind').
In all, as well as real 'Lanc' footage from the UK's only surviving Lancaster and a host of other footage, the series employed the use of thirteen model Lancasters and I was informed, by one of my aviation mags, that most of these were sadly written off, if you can say that about models! Fortunately, I managed to visit the RAF museum in Hendon at the precise time they had, in the museum shop, the complete 13-episode series in one box on DVD (Four discs)and at the then price of £24.99 I just had to snap it up. It's a real treat for WW2 fans/aviation buffs who have never seen it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Being a bit of an aviation nut, I of course had to watch this series.
But on the whole I was a bit disappointed, as too much of the action
took place on the ground. Also, as many shows from the 1970's, it
raises ethical and moral issues, only to chicken out from taking a
stand itself. It's OK not to want to serve the viewer a finished
opinion, but I often felt that episodes ended rather abruptly, leaving
me with some questions and in one instance a bit uncomfortable about
how a particular subject had been treated (the last episode, about
cowardice or, as I saw it, being forced to take on more responsibility,
than you feel able to).
I was also a bit miffed at the episode taking place in Denmark. Not much research had been done to get names, places and architecture right. For example, Toender is a rather small town and the footage of the bombs hitting were obviously of a rather large city. Beside, they bombed outside the town, not the town itself. And for the record, surnames ending in -strom are Swedish, not Danish.
But I'd still recommend the series to anyone interested in WW2 aviation. And you can also play "spot the young British hopeful"; actors, who went on to greater things.
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