The Box of Delights
is a Live Action TV Show based on a children's fantasy novel
by John Masefield
, first published in 1935.
Schoolboy Kay Harker is going home for the Christmas holidays. On the train he meets Cole Hawlings (Patrick Troughton
), a travelling Punch and Judy man who claims to be Older Than He Looks
, and two clergymen with long names who rob him then turn into wolves.
When he gets back home he finds himself landed with the Jones Children who have been abandoned by their parents, and later the nefarious Abner Brown who wants to find Hawlins and steal his Box of Delights. Fortunately Hawlings escapes into a painting on a donkey, meets Kay in a dream and gives him the box. But all is still not well.
On his way to saving Christmas (or the Christmas celebration at Tatchester Cathedral) Kay meets giant mice, Pagan Gods, an evil governess, a cult, a boy in a waterfall and a Caroplane-Aeroplane.The Box of Delights
is a cult Christmas classic to the point where many people know whole sections off by heart. It's comparable to early Doctor Who
(for more than one reason) if it had been directed by David Lynch
in a good mood. It's also similar, if only in tone, to the BBC Narnia
adaptations which were made around the same time and also for Christmas showings.
Fans are known as Boxers and can be recognised by their reactions to mentions of the Purple Pim. The haunting theme music is an excerpt from Victor Hely-Hutchinson's "Carol Symphony" - the full symphony can be found here
- the sequence used in the series starts around the 12:30 mark.
The series contains examples of:
- Age-Appropriate Angst: Completely missing. Scrobbled Governess? Robbers in your house? Golly, don't be pathetic!
- All Just a Dream: The very last scene has Kay waking up on the train he was on at the beginning of the story.
- Arc Words: "The wolves are running."
- Badass Normal: Everyone unless they aren't normal
- Big Lipped Alligator Moment: The scene with Kay and Herne the Hunter, in which they change into various types of animals and are chased by larger, predatory animals. The animation is quite nice, but it has no connection to anything that comes before or after, and does not advance the plot in any way.
- Church Militant: Abner. Sort of.
- Clueless Detective
- Cool Old Guy: Cole
- Continuity Nod: When Kay and Peter sneak into the grounds of Abner's house in Episode 4, Kay mentions that if it was properly maintained, they'd have seen evidence of a gamekeeper, pheasants or owls by now. In The Midnight Folk, Kay encountered just those things in a wood. The Oracular Head that Abner consults also made an appearance in The Midnight Folk.
- Creepy Child: Mariah. Sometimes Kay, but god, Mariah.
- Cute Bruiser: Mariah and her gun.
- Dark Messiah: Abner, arguably
- Deceptive Disciple: Foxy Charles
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Pouncer, unless she's using them all.
- Doting Parent: HA. NO.
- The Eeyore: Peter 'Purple Pim' Jones
- Exact Words: Invoked by the Boy Under the Waterfall, when he told Abner Brown, "You will have the Box under your hand today." Abner later had it under his hand, but in a literal sense - a shrunk Kay Harker was hiding in his trouser turn-up.
- Exposition of Immortality: Abner explains his plans to Chubby Joe in his study, taking the time to show him and explain to him several medieval philosophy texts. Significantly, the textbooks have portraits of Arnold of Todi and Ramon Lully. Lully just happens to look exactly like Cole Hawlings.
- Five-Man Band
- Funny Animal: Rat, Mouse, The Wolves in one scene, The Pirates... Considering his view of Rat, Abner seems to be part of the Furry Fandom.
- Gentleman Thief: Abner's cronies
- Gold Digger: Pouncer
- Historical-Domain Character: Cole.
- Large Ham: Abner, Abner- "WHERE IS THE BOX?"
- Sylvia Pouncer, even more so. At least Abner has some quiet moments.
- Little Miss Snarker: Mariah, when she's not just crazy.
- Lonely Rich Kid: Averted with Peter and presumably the Jones.
- MacGuffin: Averted for the box; Kay might be investigating it, but he needs it too.
- Not My Driver: Mariah gets kidnapped by a villain pretending to be a taxi driver.
- Oracular Head: Abner has a conversation with one. It tells him absolutely nothing useful, so he turns it upside down and starts yelling.
- Portal Picture: Cole turns a normal picture into one of these to escape.
- Psycho for Hire: Foxy Charles, maybe Rat
- Ransacked Room
- Sinister Minister: Abner Brown
- Strange Pond Woman: Male version with the boy under the waterfall
- Tomboy: Mariah, but not her sisters
- Those Two Bad Guys: Foxy-Faced Charles and Chubby Joe
- Totally Radical: They have their whole own dialect