RICHARD PHILLIPS-JONES continues his journey through Brian Clemens’ classic 70’s anthology series Thriller with The Eyes Have It, as a group of blind students come under siege…
TITLE: Thriller – The Eyes Have It
BROADCAST: 9 June 1973
STARRING: Peter Vaughan, Dennis Waterman, William Marlowe, Sinead Cusack, Alun Armstrong
WRITER: Terence Feely, from a story by Brian Clemens
DIRECTOR: Shaun O’Riordan
A group of terrorists descend on a secluded school for blind students, planning to use the building as a vantage point to assassinate a dignitary visiting the nearby town. Posing as plumbers, they kill the institute’s director, who also happens to be the only fully-sighted person on the premises. They assume that the rest of the occupants won’t be an obstacle with their lack of vision, and continue with their plans in plain sight. Only pupil Sally (Sinead Cusack) suspects that anything is awry. She has a tough job trying to convince her classmates that something strange is going on…
Clemens previously used blindness as a plot device in the film Blind Terror (aka See No Evil, 1971). Almost a dry run for the series format, it saw Mia Farrow as a blind woman being pursued by a deranged killer in a secluded manor house in the English countryside. Familiar Clemens ingredients? You bet.
By contrast, the residents of this school for the blind turn out to be an extremely resourceful bunch once they realise what’s going on. Good job too, as the local police prove ineffective when they drop by, failing to notice anything suspicious. The assassins make a fatal error in underestimating the students, who know the building far better than they do, visually impaired or not.
Fondly remembered by the show’s fans, and with plenty of memorable moments, this is another highlight of the first series, propelled by yet another excellent cast. The opening scene in particular is one of Thriller’s absolute best. Sadly, its impact was ruined by the titles of the later syndicated version, which once again managed to give most of the plot away in advance.
It’s especially interesting to look at this episode alongside the Blind Alleys segment of Amicus’ Tales From The Crypt, released the previous year. Both have very strong blind characters, but they show their strengths in very different manners….
TRIVIA POINTS: This episode, The Eyes Have It, received a special award in recognition of its positive portrayal of the blind.
Denis Waterman and Alun Armstrong would team up again 30 years later for New Tricks (2003-15).