A teenager sees parallels between his own life and the legend of a grail knight. RICHARD PHILLIPS-JONES looks at Shadows: Peronik.
BROADCAST: 25 August 1976
STARRING: Paul Aston, Zelah Clarke, Ann Lynn, Tim Barrett, Norman Rossington, Chris Cregan
WRITER: Rosemary Harris
DIRECTOR: Vic Hughes
Shadows: Peronik Review
Tom (Aston) is designing art for a fancy-dress school dance, and uses as his inspiration the legend of Peronik, a grail knight who was said to have been downtrodden by his stepmother and seemed doomed to hopelessness before he stole the family sword and ran off with it in search of the holy grail.
Seeing parallels in his own family life, Tom begins to imagine seeing scenes from Peronik’s life on the television before events in the run-up to the dance seem to reflect other events from the lore: The constant berating Tom receives from his own stepmother certainly strikes a chord, whilst he imagines his attempts to get Grizelda (Clarke) away from her father (Rossington) and take her to the dance are akin to those of Peronik to liberate a flower from a lion in the legend…
Now… On paper, this all sounds like an interesting enough premise, albeit one which sees the second series of Shadows reverting to its tendency towards whimsy and fantasy, following the sharp upturn in chills for the previous two episodes.
Sadly, the episode struggles to retain the viewer’s interest, plodding through its 25-minutes without ever quite getting into gear. Its author, Rosemary Harris was a highly regarded (indeed, award-winning) writer of children’s fiction so one can only surmise that something went very wrong on the journey from page to screen.
The underwhelming conclusion has Tom winning the day by making his father look a fool in front of his schoolmates at the dance: Again, this apparently has a counterpart in Peronik’s legend but by this point both the episode and its viewers have completely lost the plot. In any case, as practical jokes go (shooting toy machine guns in the school hall) it’s not a particularly funny one, and in today’s climate perhaps even less so since the thought of a pretend school shooting being a matter for amusement would likely raise more than a few eyebrows.
I’d be intrigued to see Harris’ original script since the general idea could have worked well with the right treatment but, in its broadcast form Peronik is regrettably near the bottom of the pile in the annals of Shadows, misses the show’s highest standards by a country mile and is best left forgotten. The total waste of the talents of brilliant character actors Tim Barrett and Norman Rossington just adds to the disappointment.
TRIVIA POINTS: Look out for an uncredited Linda Robson (Birds of a Feather), who has a wordless bit part and may have been glad in retrospect not to have her name mentioned.
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Read more about Shadows TV series here.