INFLUENTIAL early sixties TV sci-fi series Pathfinders is to be released on DVD for the first time after the one missing episode was discovered – in the ITV archives.
Until recently it was long thought that episode 1 of Pathfinders to Venus, “SOS From Venus”, was lost save for the soundtrack.
But earlier this year the entire eight-part 1961 serial was found complete within the archives and will be released this December by Network DVD along with earlier series Pathfinders in Space and Pathfinders to Mars.
One of ITV’s earliest dramas written specifically for children, Sydney Newman’s Pathfinders series has been described as the “missing link” between seminal BBC radio show Journey Into Space and Doctor Who, the latter of which Newman also created.
Over three series broadcast during 1960 and 1961 the Pathfinders journeyed to the moon and other worlds, facing drama at every turn – from space hazards to Venusian dinosaurs.
With intelligent and engaging scripts by Malcolm Hulke and Eric Paice, and a strong cast including actors Gerald Flood (Conway Henderson) and George Coulouris (Harcourt Brown), the series proved tremendously successful with the viewing public and even got into the regional top ten – unheard of for a children’s programme.
In addition to all 21 episodes, The Pathfinders in Space Omnibus DVD also features an image gallery and production booklet by noted archive television historian Andrew Pixley. It is released on December 31, 2011.
READ ON: PATHFINDERS ON TELEVISON by Andrew Pixley.
8 responses to “Pathfinders in Space finally comes to DVD”
WOW! I hadn’t heard they found the missing episode – this has to be the surprise release of the year!
Any news about quality or if the epusides will be VidFired?
The forthcoming release of the ‘Pathfinders’ dvd is great news, and decades overdue. One of my best childhood memories is of being with a group of my friends at a childrens’ party, and of us all watching the programme together. We really LIVED those adventures, and I can’t wait to see them again!
There is no word of restoration work on the Network site, but they’ve done a good job with other titles they’ve released in the past. it is available to buy as of yesterday (17th October 2011).
Enjoyed Andrew Pixley’s piece on the release of Pathfinders in Space, to which your article linked. I was especially glad to see him note Pathfinders more than coincidental resemblance to the BBC’s Lost Planet series of a few years earlier. However, he attributes The Lost Planet to the late Andre Norton. I don’t know where this very common mistake originated, but it shouldn’t be perpetuated. The Lost Planet stories were one of the great pleasures of my childhood, both because they were well written, but also because they were native Scottish SF, by the wide-ranging Highland author Angus Macvicar. He and Andre resembled one another only in their religious sensibilities, and a lively taste for adventure.
Keep up the good work!
Mike Scott Rohan
I began to cry when I found out about this earlier today as it is the one series I have been praying for. I know the quality won’t be up to much but just to watch this again after 50 years will be more than enough. Discovered it on Amazon and ordered it without a moment’s hesitation.
I still remember the Martian tubes rising out of the ground. One of the most haunting moments in sci-fi history.
Yes it’s great news.
I hesitated a bit over buying the dvds, as not all these “sentimental journeys” end well. This one did though.
I was surprised to find how much I liked the first series, which I missed as a child (I saw PtM and PtV at 12/13). In particular, the crisis scene, where they had to decide which two of them woudl get to survive, was really gripping and kept me on the edge of my seat, despite my foreknowledge that all the major characters must survive for the next series. I was rather touched by Jimmy’s determination to save his hamster, even if “himself he could not save”. Both moving and credible.All in all, really glad I bought it.
I too got the dvds on the strength of the Mars and Venus serials, but was pleasantly surprised by Pathfinders in Space, which I hadn’t seen before.
In particular, I though Steward Guidotti took a good part as Geoff. He came over as a breed of teenager which has been somewhat out of fashion since the Sixties – the sort who is eager to be counted as one of the grown ups, and accepts the need to earn this by acting like one. He discharges to the best of his ability the duties he is given on radio and radar, accepts without complaint his exclusion from the first walk on the Lunar surface (because he is needed in the ship for radio watch) and the potentially dangerous duty of going from ship to ship through a meteor storm. In the final crisis, he takes upon himself the duty of comforting his little brother, assuring him that it will not hurt when they both die of suffocation.
I must admit that at this point I felt a bit angry with his father and the grownups in general. Ok, I know they were busy with their scientific work and in particular the alien ship, but wasn’t this carrying the British Stiff Upper Lip a bit too far? It seems rather “over the top” to leave such a task to a 14-year-old boy. And neither then nor later does Geoff get so much as a pat on the shoulder for his behaviour in the face of death. Apparently it is no more than is expected of him. At times, though it was made in my own lifetime, the human characters in PiS seem a more alien species than anything they are likely to find in outer space.
Still, they were a great view fifty years ago, despite the excruciating visual effects, and there still well worth a watch. Not at all sorry I bought them.
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