The Tripods

The Tripods
In 1984, the BBC decided to produce a series based on a trilogy of novels by John Christopher, collectively known as The Tripods. The series did not follow the books as closely as many fans would have liked, but it´s still remembered by many who watched it in their childhoods, and now hold fond memories of it well into their adult years.

They spared no expense, but instead employed lots of special effects (many of which used new technologies for the time), employed a gigantic cast by television series standards (over 120 main players, over 300 in total), and constructed massive sets - when they built the City Of The Masters, the model was over 1,000 square feet large and took up all available space in Elstree Studios. Unfortunately, the project proved to be more than they could carry, and the intended third season, which would have covered the third book in the trilogy, was never produced.

The story begins in the year 2089, in a small English village. Humans have returned to simpler ways, as technology no longer exists for them. Earth and it´s inhabitants are ruled by large machines known as Tripods. Upon reaching the age of sixteen, each human goes through a ceremony in which they are ´capped´. Capping produces docile, calm, easily controlled people, who unquestioningly accept the Tripods control.

Will Parker is nearly sixteen. He strongly believes that humans should be allowed to have free will, and decides to flee with his cousin Henry to find the ´free men´, uncapped humans living in the White Mountains of Austria. Early in their journey, they meet up with Jean-Paul Deliet, who goes by the nickname Beanpole.

The series deals with their race to get to the White Mountains, quite a few captures and escapes, a romantic interlude between Will and Eloise, more captures, more escapes, and infiltration of the Tripod stronghold, the City Of Gold. The boys discover that the Tripods are merely machines built to convey an alien race known as the Masters. It seems that at first their intentions were to control the violent tendencies of the human race through the capping process, but as time went on, they changed their plans and began working to eventually terraform Earth to make it compatible for the Masters to colonize, which would wipe out the human race.

The episodes end with Will and Beanpole being double-crossed by the owner of a circus, where they had been hiding out disguised as clowns. At this point, the BBC decided that the series ratings could not justify the expense of producing a third season.

The Tripods television series, while based on the books, does not follow them tightly. There´s lots of padding, and entire episodes were constructed based on a sentence or two from the books. The series is well worth watching in and of itself, but I do highly recommend that fans also read the entire book series as well, to see the vision of this possible Earth future as John Christopher originally wrote it.

You Should Also Read:
The Tripods Links
The Tripods Episode Guide

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