Sapphire and Steel – Assignment 3 Review

Sapphire and Steel A3

Sapphire and Steel continues into the third “assignment” and a new look… for Sapphire at least. This story is… odd. It introduces a new “element” character in Silver and he works well with the main duo, but there is also scenes of a women choking a swan, man-babies who can send you forward or backwards in time by a touch, and some sort of… blob… thing. It was good viewing though! Let’s take a closer look…


Rothwyn and Eldred, a couple living in a modern apartment, are not what they seem. In fact, they are from the 35th Century, the apartment is their time capsule, which is situated on the roof of a modern day tower block, and the experiment is to live as 20th Century humans. But trouble starts when the couple discover that they can neither contact their controllers in the future nor two other similar time capsules in the present day. The biomechanical system that runs the capsule has experiments of its own that it plans to perform on the occupants – resenting the fact that in the 35th century, Mankind is the only animal not extinct; all other creatures, flora, fauna and even germs having been ruthlessly eradicated in order to preserve the purity of the human race.

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

Sapphire and Steel A3 4

That is actually pretty much the cast, yeah…

Sapphire (Joanna Lumley) – One of the mysterious other-dimensional “elements” that help out when the space/time continuum is in a bit of a bind. She has telepathy and some small control over time itself…

Steel (David McCallum) – Steel is cold and calculating, and has a great deal of strength, although when it comes to his “element powers” they seem to be pretty crap…

Silver (David Collings) – A bit of a classic British twit, Silver is another “element”, and is treated as a technician as he can melt and mould his namesake element and generally crack any computer or machinery full stop.

Rothwyn (Catherine Hall) – A traveller from the future doing a study on living in this time period, she is soon haunted by pillows, coats and magic swans… Not a completely accurate take on 1981…But close!?

Eldred (David Gant) – Also a traveller from the future, Eldred is a bit of a stickler for the rules and generally a bit of a knob.

Plus one or two more!

The Good:

Sapphire and Steel A3 2

The titular duo, now with new haircut and Chinese-influenced attire! … for Sapphire, not both of them, if you couldn’t tell…

As per usual Sapphire and Steel are an entertaining double act, and the whole first two or three episodes have a really good “mystery set up” thing going on. The addition of Silver is great, he’s the fool to Steel’s straight man, with Sapphire continuing to be the calm and kind one. The trio work well together.

I like the idea that in the end Eldred and Rothwyn were time travellers just doing a bit of an experiment, and how it was their own future tech that was tormenting them. They may not have been the best actors in the world, but they did enough. The weird adult version of their baby was creepily well played though, which lead to some good cliffhangers.

Not sure if this is good or bad, but I also have to mention the frankly bizarre scene at the end of Episode 1, which sees several pillows turn into swans, leading to Steel getting attacked and the weirdest scene of all, Rothwyn walking into the child’s bedroom shouting “nooooo!” in slow motion and then slowly choking the weird swan puppet with a serious expression on her face. It literally made me laugh out loud! I’d love to just show that one scene to someone and ask them what they think lead to it or what it meant…

The Bad:

Sapphire and Steel A3 1

The best shot I could get of the bizarre swan choking scene. It’s now officially a classic.

While I liked the future tech twist, I didn’t like the reveal that in the far future humanity has gotten rid of animals because “they don’t need them any more” and then kept parts of some of them alive to use for their technology, which is now attacking them as “revenge”. I mean, it’s not the most subtle dig at meat eaters / animal farming, and makes so little sense…

Also at the very end the technology escapes and sort of… squelches around the place via poor effects and then all the future people and tech get sent away. It’s not a great end to what was actually a fun build up.

Overall Thoughts:

Sapphire and Steel A3 3

Silver wondering if he’ll ever appear again. I hope so!

This was a good story, with a trio of good leads this time, and really great atmosphere and mystery aspects. Sadly the final part’s explanation and resolution was poor, leading it to end on a sour note. Still, I enjoyed the five episodes leading up to it, and wouldn’t have any problem watching it again, looking back. Which is good, if I’d written this review literally after having just watch the last episode I’d probably have marked it lower…

4 Star Watch

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s