|Index||7 reviews in total|
I can't believe that I am the first to comment on this classic cartoon.
Amazingly funny and imaginative, a true classic from the time when cartoons ruled!
I was lucky enough to pick up an old VHS recording of the episodes (they are just five minutes in length), yet it is just one of the best shows I can remember from when I was younger.
Berk is ruled as a servant by the guy upstairs, he has a friend who is a skull and the all important "Trap door", where nasty funny and creative things come out.
All I can say if you don't remember it is this...
If The Trap Door were to debut in 2006 then it would be low-grade CGI
crap with no atmosphere or icky moments. What does that tell you about
the current crop of PC-trash children's programming?
As it is, The Trap Door was an icon of 80s children's television. 'ooever knew that plasticine models could be so effective? But it wasn't just that. The castle that Berk and Boni (and the Thing upstairs) lived in was such a brilliant, atmospheric set. The 'owling winds, the dead trees and the constant dark and fog really did add a lot to it.
Berk was some kind of blue creature and was also a butler/servant to the ever-unseen cockney-voiced Thing, 'oo would always complain about the noise or being 'ungry. Whenever Berk would turn his back an 'orrible monster would creep out of the Trap Door in the basement. The Trap Door led directly into the catacombs beneath the castle where an infinity of worms and diabolical nasties dwelled. They'd cause no end of trouble for poor ol' Berk. You'd think he'd learn to keep it shut.
The theme song, despite sounding very 80s, was pretty damn cool too. One particular episode devoted its entire running time to an extended version of it. But that's one of my gripes. The running time was only 5 minutes (barely) for each episode, which was a bit annoying since it always seemed to end just as it was starting.
It only lasted for two seasons for some reason. But even though they only made a handful of episodes, The Trap Door has remained popular for over 20 years and that more than you can say for children's TV of today.
I had fond memories of watching this as a kid so I went out and
purchased the Trap Door DVD for £5 and I've got to say it's one of the
best bargains I've ever found. Not only is it as brilliant as I
remember but even the DVD menu is pure class.
Seeing Trap Door as an adult I realised just how much work must have gone into it. The sets are really wonderful and the endless squirming crawling beasties are really wonderfully animated. Claymation is a very slow business at the best of times but making things drip or appear to be thrown is just making things ten times harder for yourself but the makers of Trap Door obviously loved what they were doing and the attention to detail is just amazing.
The late Willie Rushton's voice is just the icing on the cake. He brings the show to life and fills it with personality. The great theme song is so memorable that when I slipped the DVD in I found I could sing along with the theme music even though I hadn't seen the show since I was a nipper.
I suppose you could say Trap Door episodes often have no plot and at five minutes long they end abruptly but this show is so charming and visually interesting that I don't really care. What's really nice to see is that if you show this programme to a kid these days they fall in love with it just like I did.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Trap Door was a children's TV show that ran for 2 seasons & was
aired here in the UK during the 80's & as with many other people it has
stayed with me for many, many years even remembering specific scenes &
episodes over a decade since I first saw them. Well, like any sensible
person who remember this fantastic series with any fondness I jumped at
the chance of buying the British DVD which contains all 40 episodes, I
sat down this afternoon & watched them all back-to-back, that's over 3
hours worth & I loved very minute of this funny trip down memory lane.
The story is simple, the cuddly blue Berk & his friends the disembodied skull Boni & they're pet bug Drutt all live together in a big castle owned by 'the thing upstairs' (all hilariously voiced by Willie Rushton) whom Berk serves. The 40 short episodes tell the tales that the friends get up to & the horrible things that emerge from the trap door...
The series uses stop motion animation & it looks like they used plasticine, you can almost smell it! It's obvious that so much effort went in every shot, there are so many things happening all over the screen from little bugs & worms that slither & slide all over the place to the character reactions The Trap Door is a real joy to watch not only once but again & again. On a negative side the stories are too short & stop as soon as they get going, although to be fair it was probably commissioned for TV & a certain time slot to fill the schedule so the makers were probably working to specific requirements. All credit to them though as they have created something a bit special here, something charming, something funny, something endearing & the fact I doubt you will ever hear anyone whose ever seen an episode ever say anything bad about it more or less proves it. I'm sure people of all ages will find much here to enjoy & I can't recommend it enough. The character's are cute & extremely likable, there's some very funny dialogue (I love how Berk refers to the monsters from the trap door as 'things' like that flying thing, that little thing, that 'orrible thing or that lumpy thing), the monsters from the trap door are suitably slimy & icky & the theme tune is absolutely brilliant too! In fact I love the episode where Berk finds a radio & when he turns it on The Trap Door theme tune plays & the whole episode revolves around it. The episode where 'the thing upstairs' eyeball rolls down into the trap door & Berk has to fetch it & ends up in the huge mouth of a giant monster is also a favourite of mine. What more can I say? It has a fabulous sense of humour, it's twisted in a funny way, it's brilliantly made on what were probably meagre funds & I have never seen a bad word written about it. I think I've run out of superlatives for it, quite simply find a copy of the DVD & watch all 40 episodes as soon as possible. One more thing, with regard to that DVD each episode is presented without the opening theme which is presented as an 'extra' on the disc instead which I have to say annoyed me immensely as it's brilliant & a very important part of the show. On Monday morning I'm going to take this into work & lend it to my friend Kelly (she's too young to have seen it on TV the first time around), she's going to love it! I hope...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Trap Door was basically two series of 5 minute claymation shorts
filmed in 1984 and 1986 respectively (25 episodes in series 1 and only
15 in series 2) chronicling a hapless but fairly optimistic manservant
called Berk and his friends called Boni and Drutt. Berk was a blue
blob- like creature with what sounds like a Devon accent who worked
tirelessly for 'The Thing' upstairs making it various meals, cleaning
it and doing housework. If something went wrong Berk would often
exclaim 'Oh Globbits!' and he would say it a lot during the two series
as he kept on breaking the major rule of the household which was not to
open the trapdoor that lay in the centre of the cellar quarters so that
the monsters beneath would not escape.
'The Thing' was always left to the imagination but, by various descriptions, was a flabby, multi-headed creature with a London accent. In fact, one of the episodes involved Berk cleaning The Thing's eyeballs and one fell into the trapdoor, giving us a rare glimpse beneath.
Boni was a weary skull who depended on Berk to protect him from the horrors of The Trap Door. Of course Berk was protector and instigator at the same time as he often left it open. Boni would provide humour by being of use in the most unlikely of ways like holding up a shelf and would often be transported from the castle via a trolley cart.
Drutt is a spider-like creature that eats worms. He is a friend to both Boni and Berk but usually gets in the way and causes chaos. Drutt has babies towards the end of series 2.
There are a couple of creatures that actually helped Berk in his quest for order, peace and quiet from 'im upstairs. One is Thort who is a plant-like creature that ate the bugs that came from the trapdoor and the other is Rog. Rog is a friendly slow-witted creature with a really funny laconic dead-pan way of talking and is first shown when Berk attempts to go fishing in the slime rivers outside the castle. Despite Rog's friendliness, his stupidity and clumsiness can be a hindrance to Berk as well as a helping hand.
There were a couple of bizarre episodes, one featuring Boni in a dream sequence where he developed a horse's skeleton given to him by a winged imp-like creature and the episode that featured the signature tune all the way through because Berk found a radio.
What really works with this little gem is a combination of mature humour, incredible plasticine work (most of the episodes feature multiple creatures scuttling about in the same frame), unsettling atmosphere and engaging characters all voiced by the late Willie Rushton.
Rog: (after visiting 'The Thing') "'Ullo...You're ugly"
Berk: (while beating down a multi-tentacled thing back into the trap-door) "I love's a bit of bonkin'. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 can't remember the rest"
Berk: "If you've got a problem, stuff a worm in it"
* Real spoilers so look away now if you are not interested in the endings to both series*
The first series ended quite abruptly. Berk found most of the monsters from series 1 had come out of the trapdoor as a result of leaving it open putting out the rubbish. Berk finally couldn't take the stress of it all so, Dick Whittington style, grabbed a suitcase and a pouch on a stick and set off saying goodbye to the chaos in the castle. After the credits Berk had a sudden change of mind for apparently no reason and says 'he's back'. Boni replies; 'I knew he'd be back' to which Berk replies; 'Well...there's no place like home'. I actually would have preferred the ending as it stood without the tacked on bit after the credits. If need be the reason for his swift return could be explained in the first episode of Series 2.
Ironically, the monster that started off the first ever episode in series 1 ended the last ever episode in series 2. This was the big red thing and featured a fight between him and Rog. In a truly maudlin scene made upsetting by the fact that Berk could barely understand the concept of death, it appeared as if Rog had been killed. The end credits rolled and then it showed that Rog didn't die at all (no real explanation why the sudden resurrection). They all breathed a sigh of relief and the Big Red Thing jumped them from behind. It is never made clear what became of them as to whether they escaped him or ended up as Rog should have done.
Each episode is concise but you always get the feeling the material could have gone on a further five minutes. Perhaps it's this thirst for more that is the key to The Trap Door's success. It certainly is a piece of it's time and thankfully so as I'm sure the show would lose it's lovely sense of subtlety and timing if made today.
Last of all the infamous soundtrack. It was typically 80s with 1960s Motown influences and quite provocative for a kids show of the time. It was performed by Bob Heatlie who apparently wrote 'Japanese Boy' for Aneka and 'Merry Christmas Everyone' for Shaking' Stevens. Zygott provided the creepy sounding vocals.
Every (big) kid should watch at least one episode of this show in their life.
Despite there being no DVD details available here, there has been a Region 2 DVD released of Series 1 & 2, that's the complete series, and you can buy it from Amazon.co.uk at around £14. Although there are no extras on the disc, its great to see this show finally get a release as it's just so hilariously funny and the late Willie Rushton does an excellent job at voicing all the strange and wonderful characters. In fact sometimes you almost forget he is the only voice talent, if nothing else this show showcases his great comic skills. A must for any child of the eighties and good clean entertainment for children nowadays. An absolute must buy. Just superb!
For it being The 50th Review for my new account, I have decided to
review one of my most special Nostalgic journeys of growing up! The
Trap Door was an 80s TV show which I owned on video tape, I have seen
every single episode of that series, one of The Trap Door video tapes I
have seen about forty times now! Basically, every episode is a similar
five minutes of events that go on, whenever Berk has to tidy the
kitchen, feed The Lazy Thing Upsairs or even have to deal with his
simple-minded friend: Rogg, he always accidentally leaves The Trap Door
open, which leads a strange, stupid or disgusting creature which either
creeps up to cause havoc and to make a mess or it will just pull
someone back down the trap door to have fun! The Trap Door is great fun
with great stop-motion animation and Willie Rushton (RIP) does an
outstanding job in doing the voices! I just cannot give this brilliant
nostalgic show a lower rating than this! It is very highly recommended
for any young audience!
Overall Rating: 10/10!
|Plot summary||Ratings||Plot keywords|
|Main details||Your user reviews||Your vote history|