The wolves are running
Review: The Box of Delights
With the nights drawing in and Christmas round the corner, those lovely folk at BBC Worldwide have finally released The Box of Delights on DVD.
So grab your duvet, put an extra log on the fire, make yourself a posset (an interweb search will give you the recipe) and snuggle up for the best family fantasy drama the Beeb has produced.
A picture postcard Christmas setting, trusting guardians, children scrobbled, a Time Lord Punch and Judy man, wolves a running, clergymen plotting, Nick Berry as a rat, snow in abundance, a deliciously camp Patricia Quinn, and a horned Herne the Hunter The Box of Delights certainly lives up to its name.
What's more the acting is of a high standard (with the children charming rather than too posh), the animation and effects acceptable and enchanting, and the direction taut and tension building.
I have a personal tradition of watching The Box of Delights this time every yewar, so it's great to have it on a nice and shiny DVD rather than ratty old VHS. It's also great to have the series presented in its original episodic format, rather than in two movie-sized chunks.
The release also has a number of extras, the highlight of which has to be a specially shot interview with director Renny Rye and Kay himself, Devin Stanfield. Together they provide a fascinating account of how the series made it to the screen and in Devin's case, a fascinating glimpse into what he's done since (gone behind-the-scenes and grown his hair).
It's just a shame that Devin wasn't interviewed separately because his shyness means he rarely gets a word in edgeways - a marked contrast to his appearances to promote the show at the time.
In fact, such is Ryes memory that it might have been better it he'd been asked to provide a commentary, if only because the clips from Blue Peter, Pebble Mill and Take Two tend to cover some of the same ground. There's only so many times you want to see how the walking into the mountain picture scene was created.
But the clips do provide the opportunity to see (usually publicity shy) Patrick Troughton talking about the project with absolute delight. Other extras include a quiz, a gallery and a profile of original book author John Masefield.
The Box of Delights stands up well today, so much so that it begs the worrying question: How long before Hollywood wakes up to the fact there hasn't been a big screen version and remake it, relocating the action to New Zealand and making Kay an American?