Back in the 50's, 60's and 70's, the BBC decided they had a “tape shortage” and found no reason to record the perceived “inferior” entertainment of television and actually began recording over several of their programs; a practice that painfully confuses a pack rat like me. Among the victims are early seasons of Dr. Who and, very sadly, the first two seasons of the spiffy magic themed children's program, Ace of Wands.
The new box set, which contains the entire third (and only surviving) series and a heartbreakingly tantalizing booklet with complete information on the lost episodes which starred the ultra babe Judy Loe (Kate Beckisdale's mother) as Lulli. I will never get to see the episode The Mind Robbers where, “Hypnotised by Zandar, Lulli lures Tarot into a trap.?Zandar and the Fat Boy open their sinister box of tricks with surprising results.” Nor will I get to see?The Eye of Ra wherein, “Using telepathy, Lulli communicates to Tarot that she is a prisoner in Sir John Peckham's vaults and that she has been turned into a 6-inch high chalk statue. Tarot races to her rescue, but someone else is waiting for him.”
The tragedy of lost episodes is not the show's only similarity to Dr Who. Both have sound stage sets and minimal outdoor filming combined to a jarring effect, long plot arcs that slowly (sometimes very slowly) unfold, and in a way (especially compared to today's razzmatazz, quick as lightning children's programming) both could be almost considered bit boring by children today. Not by me or my friends who were wrapped up in the fun and imagination of the show. This is perfect afternoon viewing.
In the third season, Michael Mackenzie stars as the magician, Tarot, who finds himself in a cursed London marketplace when he answers an ad for a new exciting invention for stage magicians posted two weeks ago in the the classifieds. The author of the ad is a kind, pock marked hipster named Chas whose wide eyed and maxi skirted sister Mikki turns out to share a telepathic bond with Tarot; so he decides to stay on with the siblings and solve the problems at the local market, of course!
Oh, and he brings along an owl named Ozymandias and the evil people are a street band headed by “Spoon”, a handsome bearded dude dressed, in my opinion, very snazzily (boys on Bedford Ave should take notes: A marching band jacket, a striped polo and a beat up hat trump a Brooklyn industries hoodie).
We've only seen first story arch of season three, called The Meddlers and we're excited for more–particularly The Beautiful People (which has evil hippies) and Peacock Pie (described thus: “A bank robbery – and the robber not even present at the time! A man who uses torn-up paper as money. And Mikki's sudden feeling that she needs a holiday. These are the ingredients of a new adventure for Tarot, Mikki and Chas.”).
I first heard about the show from Cinedelica which posted the incredible Donovanesque theme song and intro that drew me in. I'm sure it will hold an allure for you too if you like archaic TV with a mod magic twist (and surely everyone likes that).
This was a dearly beloved show in England and its DVD release has been met with sheer joy, but you'll have to order from amazon.co.uk and have an all region DVD player to enjoy.