With an ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ movie coming out this year, I think it’s time we look back at Joanna Lumley in her science fiction role long before she was the hard-drinking Patsy Stone. That’s why today, ‘Sapphire and Steel’ is the subject of Throwback Thursday, ScienceFiction.com’s tribute to the great science fiction of the past.
‘Sapphire and Steel’ follows in the footsteps of ‘Doctor Who,’ and it follows two interdimensional operatives who work to keep the integrity of time. For each season, the two usually warp in from seemingly nowhere, and begin to investigate weakness in the tunnel of time in order to keep anachronisms from happening. The two accomplish this by investigation, and using their powers, which seems to vary one what’s needed for the plot, but involves stopping and rewinding time (in the case of Sapphire), and freezing themselves to destroy ghosts (in the case of Steel), though there are numerous other powers that apply through the course of their six assignments.
Now, just to warn you, for those of you who love Joanna Lumley stumbling around set and saying outrageous things about her age, her role as Sapphire will give you quite a bit of a shock. In this series, while she is somewhat more happy go-lucky in comparison to her partner, Steel, she is no Patsy Stone. Steel is so austere that Sapphire’s rather detached way of interacting with humans seems slightly warmer, though, her free-wheelingness seems to mostly be defined by the fact that she is more fashionable than Steel, who only wears suits. Other than that, she is stiff and cold when she speaks to the hapless humans who are suffering from the weaknesses in the time tunnel, and she often speak in a monotone manner.
Still, ‘Sapphire and Steel’ (with its incredibly low budget) is interesting in that it tries to attack complex plot lines and does not dumb down for the audience. For the majority of their stories, the two stay in one place and wander about buildings while they talk to each other telepathically about the complexities of the case. This often leads to scenes where the two are just standing around and looking dramatic while they think at each other. This scene, for example, is good minute long and it looks exactly like this the entire time:
But good on them for giving us a full view of Joanna Lumley’s gorgeous face.
Supposedly, Big Finish had the rights to the series, and produced a whole slew of new stories for ‘Sapphire and Steel’ fans to enjoy. Sadly, it looks like it has been pulled from their website, and at best, I can only find the audio dramas on Ebay (though that is uncommon). But have no fear, there are still the DVD sets, which are available both at Amazon.com, and Amazon.co.uk.
So, if you’re interesting in somewhat slow-moving, but mentally intense science fiction about time paradoxes, I would strongly suggest you check this out.