A la recherche de notes perdus

“The Lost Notes” (2015)

So, of course, the voice isn’t quite right. Michael Palin is not Oliver Postgate — but he’s close. Cathy Butler suggested David Attenborough, but I think the natural history vibe would be too much. But, still, imagine the classic scene from Life on Earth with Attenborough and gorillas, but add Clangers.

It’s odd, though. We always call it The Clangers, although the definite article isn’t in the title screen. That familiar Earth in space, imagined first in a time when we’d hardly seen that view. The Moon’s there, too, which I think is new. Then the move through space to the Clangers’ planet (that took much longer in 1969, but consider on a £10 budget how much a slow zoom can save) and looking at the Clangers themselves. Compare today’s budget.

Pretty much as I remember them, no tubby Dalek redesign, and of course the planet is probably too curved to fit with the scale of the whole, with an angled shot to play with perspective. We even see them upside down. Neat. The dust from the surface — someone has thought about gravity but they never could have done the dust in 1969, and I’m guessing the first animation was pre-Armstrong and Aldrin.

It feels like a classic Clangers plot — the notes from the music tree have blown away and the Clangers go searching for them. This gives us cameos from the soup dragon and the iron chicken — no froglets, and what is that sky hippo from the credits? Seen it before, I’m sure. The fort da game is completed, of course — as I said to Chris last night, jeopardy is hard for children’s television. Restoration, but also change. An environmental subtext?

Oh, and adult subtexts: is the music as the storm gathers a hint of The Wizard of Oz? I hope Mother Clanger gets more to do than laundry and that’s a phallic telescope, Major Clanger. Granny asleep?

I believe I have moist eyes.

There’s a moral pointed, though. “Never give up, never surrender.” Heavy-handed? Maybe.