Saturday, 11 January 2014
Chocky's Children (1985)
While the first Chocky was directly adapted from a John Wyndham novel, the sequels are original to TV. Doctor Who alumnus Anthony Read (who these days is a successful author in the print realm) developed the plotline, using the characters Wyndham had created. There's a clear change in the material as a consequence, though not a jarring one. As a recap: the original series had 12-year old schoolboy Matthew being contacted by an alien intelligence (the eponymous Chocky), and experiencing some strange changes in his behaviour and physical abilities as a result. I bet you could easily write an article about how it's all a metaphor for puberty, if you wanted.
In any case, whereas the original mostly revolved around the question of 'what is happening to Matthew?', Chocky's Children deals much more with 'how would the authorities react if they found out about an alien contact?'. There's a much greater sense of tension and menace throughout the serial, with the first episode establishing that Chocky's visit may have had unexpected effects of Matthew's mind, and that a shadowy and unspecified cabal has him under surveillance. Matthew has no idea of any of this, of course, and merrily sets off on a hoiliday at his aunt's. Even when he encounters his neighbour Albertine, who possesses an uncanny mathematical skill, and lives on a property with a windmill that Matthew has been drawing for months - despite never seeing it before - young Matt is far from unsettled. In fact, the discovery of an emergent psychic link between them immediately turns his thoughts to Chocky. Albertine, unsurprisingly, isn't too pleased by the idea that her mathematical skills stem from another entity, rather than her own abilities, but pretty rapidly, that becomes the least of their worries. The parallels between them are far too obvious for Matthew's watchers to ignore ...
While much more a thriller than the family drama-focused original, Chocky's Children does feel like a pretty natural extension of the story. It features some nice scenes, as well, especially when Matthew's aunt is battering people into submission with the force of her politeness. The pacing of the serial is perhaps a little off: the end feels a trifle rushed, and perhaps a few sequences earlier on could have been trimmed to give the climax more room to breathe, but on the whole this is a solid bit of kids' TV programming.