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Sapphire and Steel - The Complete Series (1979)

David McCallum , Joanna Lumley , David Foster  |  NR |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)

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DVD 5-Disc Version $28.96  
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Product Details

  • Actors: David McCallum, Joanna Lumley, David Collings, Gerald James, Tom Kelly
  • Directors: David Foster
  • Writers: Peter Hammond
  • Format: Box set, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 6
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: A&E Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: December 28, 2004
  • Run Time: 918 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00061QJIA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,152 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Sapphire and Steel - The Complete Series" on IMDb

Special Features

  • 34 episodes on six discs
  • Assignment introductions by P.J. Hammond and Shaun O'Riordan on Assignments III, IV, V, and VI
  • Original voiceover narration by P.J. Hammond
  • Joanna Lumley and David McCallum biographies
  • Photo gallery of P.J. Hammond's personal Sapphire and Steel press clippings
  • Photo gallery of P.J. Hammond's personal promotional brochure from ITC

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The spiritual precursor to The X-Files, SAPPHIRE & STEEL is one of the most atmospheric, mysterious and compelling television programs ever made. Joanna Lumley (Ab Fab, Cold Comfort Farm) and David McCallum (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) star as alien investigators sent to earth to monitor and police ruptures in time. Defying convention at every turn, SAPPHIRE & STEEL spread six adventures over 34 episodes, keeping viewers constantly in suspense and heightening the tension with its distinctively claustrophobic sets (only one tale used any location footage), stark lighting and ethereal music. Combined with the deeply ambiguous stories, this created a distinctly unsettling and riveting experience. Now, SAPPHIRE & STEEL is ready to capture the minds of a new generation of fans with this comprehensive DVD collection, which features every moody minute of the revolutionary show.

One of the oddest shows ever mounted for mainstream British television, Sapphire & Steel was one of ITV's many short-lived attempts at grabbing the sci-fi cult status of the BBC's Doctor Who. Ex-Man from U.N.C.L.E. David McCallum and ex-Avenger Joanna Lumley play human-looking incarnations of the eponymous substances, mysterious investigators working at the behest of an apparent God of Order and zipping about TARDIS-like to cope with anomalies in the time-stream that manifest as apparent supernatural forces in remote English locales like an isolated farmhouse (Adventure One), a deserted rural railway station (Adventure Two) and a high-rise block of flats (Adventure Three).

McCallum and Lumley play their "medium atomic weights" with blank style and a few touches of baffled humor, not to mention visual flair in the case of Lumley's blue fashions and occasional glowing eyes. But the lengthy serial format, strictly limited guest casts, and claustrophobic confinement to studio sets tend to mean individual serials straggle on with a great deal of repetition, as six- or eight-part stories seem to take forever to get moving and then resolve. Shot on video, with a few strange 1970s effects (evil follow-spots, floating pillows), this remains prime cult material, though it's hard to sit still for more than one episode at a time. --Kim Newman

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
106 of 110 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than a mere 'precursor of the X-Files'! September 23, 2004
Nice to see this show finally get released by mainstream channels. (current fans will have found the set elsewhere...)

If you're a fan of The X-Files, you'll LOVE Sapphire And Steel. Especially if you prefer intellectual horror above quantitive gore, guts, and circus acts. Made between 1978 and 1982, this low-budget BBC series used inventive plotlines, a strong atmosphere, and strongly written and acted characters to sell it self. And it packs a whollop. Indeed, some of the stories are so complex that they could be benefitted from a second viewing. (pity VCRs didn't exist when this show was first aired!)

I personally recommend Story 2 ("The Railway Station") for first viewing. It's got the series' premise down pat and despite a lengthy 8 episodes, remains taut and gripping all the way through so the padding to fill out the timeslot isn't noticed. The story puts a new dimension on ghosts and their influence, and episode 8 has some excellent make-up and a grizzly resolution.

Story 4, "The Man Without a Face" is another fan favorite. The malignancy in this story puts photography in a different light. Either by imprisoning people in photographs or taking them out, this story is inventive - and suitably horrific. The final episode isn't as strong as it could have been, but the rest of the story more than makes up for it.

Story 6, with a working title of "The Petrol Station" features a new type of enemy for Sapphire and Steel. This one doesn't use horror in the way the other stories had, but it is highly enjoyable and also keeps one's interest. It's also the series' finale and, as many BBC Sci-fi series' go, this one isn't particularly pleasant.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome back Sapphire and Steel, on DVD at long last! October 27, 2006
By Kali
This was a real attempt at intelligent sci-fi and though I loved it I knew it would never be a hit in the way that the X-Files was, simply because it was far too intelligent for your average sci-fi watcher.

I was amazing it lasted as long as did.

I am really glad the whole series is on DVD as the VHS versions are real clunkers in that each adventure is on two tapes, so you end up with a HUGE collection of video tapes if you wanted the whole series.

I think Joanna Lumley and David McCallum are great as Sapphire and Steel, two beings sent to sort out rips and problems in time that could devastate the universe if left unchecked.

My favourite adventure was the railway station, it was very atmospheric but all of the adventures had their own merits and I loved the quirky way that Lumley and McCallum bounced off each other, one wry, the other droll, both human but not human.

Many people think this series has dated badly but I actually think it has done okay, considering it was a pioneer in its own genre and well worth buying and watching again just for the sheer brilliance of what the writers and producers were trying to do in a time of bad hair, bad clothes, bad songs, bad movies and even badder actors!
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars British Cult Sci-fi at its best February 23, 2005
I was very happy to learn that Sapphire and Steel was FINALLY coming out on DVD. Once I got the set and watched the series, I was not disappointed. The show has an eerie, claustrophobic feel that makes it unlike many other shows out there. One can forgive the limited sets and average quality video effects because the stories are so entertaining and original (A creature that exists in photographs, a darkness that lives off of the bitterness of the dead, time itself being a destructive force, etc.).

While the show itself is excellent the DVD's themselves don't live up to their potential. The extras are rather thin (although the introduction voice-overs by P.J. Hammond and Shaun O'Riordan at the beginning of each assignment are very insightful). The other problem is that the episodes were not transferred from PAL to NTSC (the U.S. video encoding standand) properly so the video images have a slightly jerky film-like motion to them. (Episode 5 of Assignment 5 is the only episode that was transferred properly) Although the problem is not distracting, it is a shame that A&E couldn't have got it right the first time. Maybe this set will be rereleased with the flaws fixed (as they did for some episodes of Space:1999).

Overall, this is a great series that anyone who likes original writing and spooky atmosphere will enjoy. A must have.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow moving, but strangely addictive. January 12, 2008
S&S is surprisingly engaging and mysterious! McCallum and Lumley are the Mulder and Scully of their day. They are a couple of enigmatic time menders who fix fissures in the spacetime continuum. Like most UK series from the 70s, it's a series of slowly paced 30 minute episodes that form a larger story arc. While it's not as quickly edited as what one is used to in a modern show, I was surprisingly captivated. The special effects are really astounding for the time (and tiny TV budget). Credit is really due to Joanna Lumley and David McCallum for making this show work -- they are absolutely magnetic to watch. If you like shows like the original Doctor Who and The Tomorrow People, you should enjoy this!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars atmospheric series relies on acting for its thrills August 26, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
SAPPHIRE AND STEEL is a 1980s British sci-fi series with a very limited special effects budget. (Let's face it, it makes DOCTOR WHO look like STAR WARS.) That means that the leads have to sell the scares through acting alone. And they do. David McCallum's ruthlessly efficient Steel and Joanna Lumley's more sympathetic Sapphire create an atmosphere of creeping dread that does not need high-tech special effects to raise goosebumps. I recommend SAPPHIRE AND STEEL to all those who want to see two consummate professionals at work.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for everyone.
Not everyone will like this show. There are almost no special effects, the pacing is leisurely and there is a lot of dialogue. These are the reasons that I like it. Read more
Published 16 days ago by homealone
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
wonderful series
Published 1 month ago by RCDN
4.0 out of 5 stars I bought this because it has David McCallum and I ...
I bought this because it has David McCallum and I had never heard of it before. It is interesting, I have not watched all of the shows yet.
Published 1 month ago by Candace Scott
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good series!
I had never heard of this one. But I have always been a big fan of David McCallum, so I had to give it a try. I was not disappointed in the least! Read more
Published 4 months ago by Electron -
4.0 out of 5 stars David McCallum fans unite.
I was a big Man from U.N.C.L.E. fan so this was intriguing to me. It was weird but cool. I'm glad I bought it.
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Sci-fi between man from uncle and X-files
different ... sci-fi / magic / twighlight zone.... different role for David McCullum / "Ducky" and Purdy from the New Avengers
Published 8 months ago by Paul Marguette
1.0 out of 5 stars Dumb and boring
I cannot believe that the main actor would've ever considered a role such as this one. 4 years and only 34 episodes the description about the show is strange. Read more
Published 8 months ago by angela coffee
3.0 out of 5 stars Joanna Lumley and David McCallum in a British Sci-fi series how could...
Well unfortunately the stories make little sense. The opening credits should give you a clue where they claim the agents are named for each of the 127 elements. Read more
Published 8 months ago by D. ABIGT
5.0 out of 5 stars Just as enjoyable as the first time around
When this series first aired, I suffered through bad video copies of it, but it was worth it because the stories and actors were great. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Signe Danler
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