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Thriller was a ground breaking TV series broadcast from 1973-1976 in the Uk on Saturday nights where it kept a regular spot through out it's run. I say ground breaking because this series was produced entirely for TV and was just perfect for the early 70's. By 1973 color TV's were were available to rent, so consequently many households had access to a color telly. Although black and white can often help with the atmosphere in a film, by contrast the color in this series at the time gave thriller a more modern and realistic feel which I think added to it's chilling effect. I know that it sounds ridiculous today with 43" widescreen plasma screens and hundreds of channels to choose from but in 1973 a 19" or 22" colour telly took TV viewing to a new and exciting level which was the real deal back then!
In addition the regular appearance of imported American actors added another dimension to it. It was interesting to see an American actor such as Garry Collins who normally played a good guy in US TV movies acting in the eery and claustrophobic atmosphere of thriller.
With what I can recall when it originally aired was that at no time did you ever really feel safe in thriller, well at least not for long until some sinister event occurred, somebody disappeared or a body turned up. Even when things appeared perfectly normal suddenly you would start to feel that something was about to happen. Another interesting feature was that the stories changed from week to week; some being supernatural, witchcraft, a mystery, a simple crime, murder or some times a combination of two or three.
The creepy and loud music score was certainly memorable at the beginning as well as the during the nauseating moments when you were expecting something to happen was ideal for TV. Yes some of the acting was wooden and even back at the time I thought that some of the expressions and menacing body language was over the top. Having said that the oppressive atmosphere, the dialog, music score, body language, slow camera work was all that producers had back in those days to make it a horror/thriller series.
There was no special effects or huge sets and if you wanted fast cars, fights and action well there was the Sweeney. Also no muscle bound 20-30 year old men here nor women wearing the now obligatory tank tops and spandex pants. Note there was no gratuitous violence ( if you don't count being strangled, stabbed, or shot with a pillow over the nozzle!) and profanity.
Thriller is very dated today but that is because over the last 30 odd years TV has changed so much. What we find entertaining on TV is completely different from 1973. Can you imagine back in the 70's people being entertained by reality TV shows not a chance ! Thriller probably has a following more for nostalgic reasons than anything else. However, that is understandable because there does come a time when you just get sick of modern TV and the different tone of thriller ironically now appears to provide a refreshing change to the monotonous, identical garbage of soaps, reality TV shows, 24 hour news and our 21st century obsession with celebrities, the internet, computer games and lastly amercian junk TV like jerry springer, sex and the city and desperate house wifes.
Now that thriller is available on DVD I'll certainly check them out and try to watch them on Saturday nights with the lights dimmed!
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