Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Callan the Wargamer: Part 3

Yesterday I received my recently ordered copy of CALLAN: THE MONOCHROME YEARS. The first episode on the first DVD in the set is actually the pilot that was made as part of the ARMCHAIR THEATRE series, and that was transmitted on 4th February 1967.

The pilot was entitled A MAGNUM FOR SCHNEIDER and the plot was later used as the basis for the film CALLAN: THE MOVIE.

As in the film, Callan is set the task of liquidating Schneider, with whom he shares an interest in wargaming. This first comes to light when Callan deliberately bumps into Schneider in the corridor outside the offices where they both work, and seeing that Schneider has some military figures, Callan manages to get himself invited into Schneider's office. On a table in the office Schneider has a display of some of his figures set up.

As a result of this shared interest, Schneider invites Callan to take part in a couple of wargames at his house. The first is a Napoleonic battle, which Callan wins.

The second battle that they fight is the Battle of Gettysburg.

Callan demonstrates his tactical adroitness yet again when Schneider orders Pickett's division to charge ...

... and Callan counters by outflanking the attackers with his cavalry.

At this point Schneider decides that rather than attack, he will withdraw. In the subsequent scenes Callan kills Schneider.

As will be obvious from the quality of the images, the original recording was made in black and white 405-line format, which does not allow current viewers to see a great deal of detail. The wargames were fought on maps rather than on a beautifully sculptured terrain, and the miniatures seem to be 54mm round figures, with the occasional larger scale figure thrown in for good luck.

By modern standards this is not quite how wargamers expect to see wargames portrayed on TV or film, but to a 16-year old (I was 17 three days after the programme was transmitted) this showed a lot of my sceptical friends that wargaming was not 'playing with toy soldiers'; it was a legitimate, if somewhat little known, hobby.

It did wonders for my self-esteem, and I very pleased that I now own a copy of the programme.

11 comments:

  1. Congratulations, Bob. I am delighted for you.


    -- Jeff

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  2. Bluebear Jeff,

    What was interesting was to compare the original TV production with the movie version.

    The latter had much higher production values, as can be seen from the quality of the terrain and figures that were used. That said, there is something to be said for the retro feel of the original.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  3. Herald ACW infantry and Britain's first version Detail cavalry for Gettysburg. Wish the Nap's were clearer, they look like German 40mm semi-flats possibly?

    Marvelous stuff! I've never seen any of these and really appreciate the glimpses.

    Thank you!
    -Ross

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  4. Ross Mac,

    I am glad that you could identify some of the figures as I had no idea what they were.

    I had not seen this pilot since it was first transmitted in 1967, so it was very nostalgic for me to watch it again.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  5. Bob,

    Still waiting for my copy to turn up (ordered on Saturday) as we've just finished watching the Richmond File from the very last season.

    Can hardly wait.

    Trebian

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  6. Trebian,

    What a coincidence! I watched the last episode of THE RICHMOND FILE myself this evening.

    I hope to start watching the rest of the monochrome episodes later this week.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  7. "At this point Schneider decides that rather than attack, he will withdraw. In the subsequent scenes Callan kills Schneider."

    I would have said that was one sore loser, except that it was the deceased who had conceded and withdrew! A sore winner maybe? ;)

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  8. Also, does anyone besides me remember the Avengers episode in which Tara King (Mrs. Peel's inadequate replacement) crushes Steed in a Napoleonic battle? As I recall, it ended with Steed throwing up his hands and proclaiming, "Let the model carnage end!"

    Good times.

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  9. Chris J,

    I think that Callan was so shocked by Schneider sweeping his figures off the table - and probably chipping the paintwork in the process - that he felt that he just had to kill him!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  10. Mine arrived a few days ago - I'm getting through them at the rate of about 2-3 episodes most days. They've aged well, I'm quite enjoying myself.

    Rob

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  11. Xaltotun of Python (or should I call you Rob?),

    You are doing somewhat better than I am at present. I hope to watch a couple more episodes today, but one never knwos what will turn up ...

    All the best,

    Bob

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