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Series / Dark Season

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Normal is for the comatose. If I am to teach you two anything, where ever you are, whoever you are, there is always a strangeness in things. You just have to know where to look.
Marcie Hatter
Dark Season is a British children's science-fiction Television Serial made and broadcast by the BBC in 1991. Written by Russell T. Davies as his first original work, the series starred Victoria Lambert, Ben Chandler and a young Kate Winslet as Kid Heroes Marcie, Thomas and Reet.

The series centres around two linked stories, each of three parts: In the first story, Mr Eldritch (Grant Parsons), owner of Abyss Modems, inexplicably donates hundreds of computers to the gang's school classrooms and students. In the second story, a team of archaeologists dictated by Miss Pendragon (Jacqueline Pearce) arrives at the school, but are rather secretive about their excavation work.

Davies additionally wrote a novelisation of the series, adapting both stories into a single volume. Though it teased an imminent continuation, he instead went on to produce Children's Ward for CITV and wrote a wholly new original TV serial, Century Falls, for the BBC.

Dark Season was repeated twice by the BBC; first in 1994, and unexpectedly once again in 2002 on the CBBC digital channel following its launch (albeit cropped from 4:3 for widescreen broadcast). In 2006, it was released on DVD alongside Century Falls by 2|entertain. It is currently available to stream on BritBox and ITVX.

In 2021, Big Finish released a new audiobook of the novelisation, read by Lambert. The following year, it was announced that a brand new series was being made for the Audio range. Comprised of four stories (one written by Davies) and featuring most of the original cast, ''Dark Season: Legacy Rising'' released in May 2023.

This series provides examples of:

  • Air-Vent Passageway: Lampshaded when Marcie finds herself in one.
  • Big Bad: Mr Eldritch and Miss Pendragon serve as the main human evils.
  • Cliffhanger: Employed liberally, with one every episode.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Marcie Hatter, almost always. When asked how this is so by Mr Eldritch, her explanation is...
    Marcie: I watch a lot of TV.
  • The Climax: Occurs twice, due to the series' two-story format.
    • In the first story, Eldritch has found 'Becjinsky', the creator of Symbiosis, believed by him to be ex-government employee Mr Polzinsky. However, the children are one step ahead of him, and discover that it is actually his wife, who they warn. Eldritch manages to take back control of the situation by initiating the countdown to activate the Symbiosis project, but Mrs Polzinsky sends an interrupter stalling signal, and destroys Eldritch's master computer by ordering it to cleanse the system in the midst of the ensuring chaos. He disappears.
    • In the second, the Behemoth has an existential crisis after Eldritch turns up again to claim the computer. But when it questions its purpose, neither Marcie nor Eldritch hold much sway in their explanations. It chooses life - which Eldritch bitterly rejects, and forcefully launches his attempt to bring about the end of the world anyway. However, Miss Maitland escapes from the clutches of Miss Pendragon and the despairing neo-Nazi archaeologists, ultimately helping Thomas to rescue Reet after their failed destruction job resulted in her captivity. The three then kill the Behemoth by hijacking an excavation digger and breaking water pipes to flood it.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Experienced during the second story's climax by Miss Pendragon, who goes proverbially Down With The Ship by strapping into the exploding Behemoth. After Eldritch seemingly vanishes, Pendragon chooses to take his place in the seat of her life's dying work, drowning soberly in the flooding interior once it lowers.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Mr Eldritch's car has the number plate NEME515. You would really think someone would suspect something.
  • Dutch Angle: Tons. The series' director, Colin Cant, throws in many amongst numerous other more adventurous camera angles, and heightens the overall comic strip feel to it in the process.
  • End of the World as We Know It: This threat, perhaps inevitably, hangs over the latter part of the serial.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Mr Eldritch, constantly. His lines often come out with a crazed narcissistic zeal.
  • Genre Savvy: One of Marcie's main attributes. She can recognise a children's sci-fi plot when one is happening around her (see Crazy-Prepared, above), and knows what to do about it.
    Marcie (while crawling through an Air-Vent Passageway): Marvellous, I'm a cliché.
  • The Group: Both Eldritch's 'Abyss Modems' and Miss Pendragon's archaeologist group.
  • Hidden Badass: Miss Maitland turns out to be one of these during the second story's climax.
  • Hostage Situation: Maitland is held hostage by Miss Pendragon and the excavators by the end, but fully realises the gravity of the mess and makes her break for freedom to help Thomas and Reet in style.
    Miss Maitland: These are your leaders - a mad woman, and a man who will rip this planet apart. Well you've done it, you've got your "new age". An age of betrayal, and fear, and hate. Now GET OUT OF MY WAY!
  • Identity Breakdown: In The Climax, the Behemoth goes through one of these. It was built for war, and it ultimately rejects that purpose - shutting down in a spectacular (but safe) conclusion.
  • Just a Stupid Accent: Used by nearly all of the neo-Nazi archaeologists.
  • Kid Heroes: Thomas, Reet, and Marcie. The former two certainly have their moments, but this applies most of all to Marcie (see Crazy-Prepared above).
  • Left Hanging: The whereabouts of Mr Eldritch after both stories end - he seemingly disappears into thin air in both. Marcie simply concludes he has "moved on"...
  • Logic Bomb: Marcie drops one of these during the second story's climax, where the Behemoth reveals that wants to pick a side and not blindly follow instructions by knowing its purpose. In an attempt to stop it from submitting to Eldritch's demands, she imparts it a bit of solid life advice about individuality - how she won't be a nurse, even if that's what her mother wants for her.
    Marcie: My mother wants me to be a nurse. Imagine it, me, a nurse. You see, it doesn't matter what my mother commands, I don't have to do it. It isn't my purpose to be a nurse.
  • Master Computer: The Behemoth, a vast, sentient war computer buried underneath the children's school.
  • Mind-Control Device: Mr Eldritch provides these through his company in the form of personal computers linked to Symbiosis, given free of charge to every student of a school.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: The irises of Olivia, the Mind Controlled girl, turn pale. No one seems to notice this, but perhaps that's because she also starts glowing.
  • Motive Misidentification: It initially seems that Eldritch wants Mr Polzinsky, the apparent creator of Symbiosis that made it under the name of Becjinski. It's actually Polzinsky's wife. He additionally betrays Miss Pendragon and her excavators in the second story's climax by revealing his real interests with the Behemoth - his resolve for it to bring about the end of the world.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Mr Eldritch. Is any other explanation needed?
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Eldritch is revealed to be one of these by the end, though his maniacal beliefs that drive his desire to Kill All Humans lurks in the background throughout the series.
  • Psycho Lesbian: Miss Pendragon. Not spelled outright in the series itself, but made fairly clear by her campiness and subtler conduct around the women in her excavation team.
  • Returning Big Bad: Towards the end of the second story, Mr Eldritch makes a surprise return.
  • Sanity Slippage: Already quite loopy, Miss Pendragon experiences one of these, becoming increasingly obsessed with the goal to unearth Behemoth. She later admits as such too after being betrayed by Eldritch, though doesn't receive any sympathy off of Miss Maitland.
    Miss Pendragon: The Behemoth filled my mind...
    Miss Maitland: There was a lot of space for it to fill!
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Some things are best left buried, as the kids find out when the excavation project turns out to be unearthing a bloody huge artificially intelligent Master Computer.
  • Sinister Shades: Mr Eldritch. He never takes his sunglasses off, not even once.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The second story's ending, in which the Behemoth spectacularly explodes.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Constantly invoked by Miss Pendragon and her troupe of white-skinned, blonde-haired archaeologists.
    Inga: Ze people want order.
    Miss Maitland: Yes, and a uniform, and a flag, and a salute! You're no better than Nazis!
    Mr Eldritch: They are Nazis.
  • Vanity License Plate: see Devil In Plain Sight, above.
  • Token Adult: Miss Maitland, the children's teacher who comes around to support them in their ridiculous adventures. Manages to subvert Adults Are Useless by the end of the series.
  • Villain Opening Scene: After explaining the dark logic behind a school for their evil plot, Mr. Eldritch delivers his opening line with relish:
    Mr. Eldritch: It's already too late. Nothing in the world can stop me now...
  • Wetware CPU: Revealed to be possessed by Behemoth.
  • Wicked Cultured: Miss Pendragon, the crazed neo-Nazi lesbian leader of the mysteriously large excavation project in the school's field.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Marcie is wiser than most adults, and often has to bring her friends up to speed even though they are actually older than her. Witness her early suspicions of something being wrong, and explaining why in detail to Thomas and Reet:
    Marcie (holding up a discarded yogurt pot): Crisp packets in the street, Coke tins in the street, yes, but a yogurt pot? Now think, when have you ever, ever seen someone walking down the street eating a yogurt?