Feathered Serpent on DVD

Saturday, 21 March 2009 11:00

Almost two years since it was first announced as coming to DVD, Network has finally managed to jump through all the necessary hoops to set loose the Thames Television children’s drama THE FEATHERED SERPENT.

It was written by John Kane, also an actor, and known for playing Tommy in the Jon Pertwee Doctor Who swansong “Planet of the Spiders” – he can also be seen in such shows as Rings on Their Fingers, Doctor On The Go, and Devenish. His writing career has included episodes of the likes of Smuggler, Me and My Girl, Dick Turpin and Never The Twain. 

Directors were Vic Hughes (Chocky, Ace of Wands) and Stan Woodward (The Tomorrow People, Horse in the House), who were given a star-studded cast to work with. Top of the pile was Patrick Troughton (the second Doctor Who), along with a soon-to-be-famous Diane Keen (The Cuckoo Waltz, Doctors), Tony Steedman (Citizen Smith, Animal Ark) and Brian Deacon (Lillie, Bleak House).

Feathered Serpent DVDThis is a historical tale of murder, intrigue and political manoeuvring set amidst the splendour and turmoil of ancient Mexico. Originally broadcast on ITV between 1976 and 1978, it remains memorable for its spectacular sets and lavish costumes, unprecedented for a children’s series in that era.

Within the Toltec civilisation of ancient Mexico, ritual human sacrifice was an accepted part of everyday life. The story begins as the old religion of the peaceful god Quala – “The Feathered Serpent” – is coming to an end; whereas Quala only demanded offerings of fruit and flowers, Nasca (Patrick Troughton), the fanatical and power-hungry priest, calls for “blood, and yet more blood” to satisfy the new god Teshcata – “The Smoking Mirror”.  

Against this backdrop, Tozo (Richard Willis) a young servant boy, is sent by his master Prince Heumac (Brian Deacon), King of the Toltecs, to the court of the mighty Emperor Kukulkhan (Tony Steedman) – a peaceful ruler who hopes to bring about the return of Quala by means of an arranged marriage between his daughter Chimalma (Diane Keen) and Prince Heumac. This creates tension with the rival suitor Mahoutek (Robert Gray), a General of the Jaguar Guards, whose jealousy becomes a tool which Nasca uses to his advantage. Tozo quickly becomes caught up in a power flux between the forces of good and evil, and must call upon all his strength and ingenuity to survive, along with a little help from his blind mentor, the prophetic Otolmi (George Cormack).

THE FEATHERED SERPENT (PG) is a 2-DVD set, running for approx 300 mins, and has a RRP of £19.99 – or less from www.culttvstore.com

 

EPISODE GUIDE

SERIES ONE

Episode 1.1

Nasca, the High Priest, has installed the Emperor Kukulkhan in his newly built palace and temple complex; having sacrificed every slave who built the complex and murdered its architect, he calls for further sacrifices to appease the new god, Teshcata. Amid the bloodshed, young servant boy Tozo arrives at the palace…

Original ITV Transmission: 21 June 1976

 

Episode 1.2

Otolmi, the blind priest, tells Tozo of his dream and together they discover the secret of the palace wall. Prince Heumac is presented to the court of the Emperor Kukulkhan, and Nasca marks the victims for the sacrificial ceremony to be given in his honour.

Original ITV Transmission: 28 June 1976

 

Episode 1.3

Tozo enters the secret passage in the palace wall in a bid to find his master and warn him of the danger foretold by Otolmi’s dream. Kukulkhan stays the night in the temple to consult his dead ancestors and receives a grim judgement, and Nasca goads Mahoutec into a fight to the death with Prince Heumac.

Original ITV Transmission: 5 July 1976

 

Episode 1.4

Tozo is captured and tortured by Chadac to make him betray his master. Prince Heumac unravels the mystery of a fragment of a chart he finds in the temple. The fanatical priest, Nasca, offers up the heart of Kukulkhan to his god, Teshcata, in a ritual ceremony in honour of the dead Emperor.

Original ITV Transmission: 12 July 1976

 

Episode 1.5

Nasca accuses Heumac of sorcery, and tricks Mahoutec into leading his army in a surprise attack on the Toltec camp. Tozo faces great danger in the temple, and the Empress Chimalma is forced to spend a terrifying night in the Chamber of Screams.

Original ITV Transmission: 19 July 1976

 

Episode 1.5

The events foretold in Otolmi’s dream come true. Prince Heumac is denounced and a sacrificial procession leads him to the summit of the old Pyramid of the Sun, where the action reaches a dramatic climax and the knife descends…

Original ITV Transmission: 26 July 1976

 

SERIES TWO

 

Episode 2.1

Empress Chimalma is about to marry Prince Heumac of the Toltecs. However, Xipec, Governor of the Gold Region, challenges the match, and Heumac is forced to face the perils of the Stone Cage to prove himself worthy of the title of Emperor. Keelag, a mad recluse, is chosen to embalm the body of the slain priest, Nasca. Is this the end of the evil reign of terror?

Original ITV Transmission: 3 April 1978

 

Episode 2.2

Trapped in the darkness of the Stone Cage, Heumac and Tozo face three tests of courage, wisdom and ingenuity. Meanwhile, Nasca, brought miraculously back to life by Keelag’s magic potion, devises a plot to strike the city with a plague of madness and so bring about the downfall of the Empress Chimalma.

Original ITV Transmission: 10 April 1978

 

Episode 2.3

The evil hag, Keelag, shows Nasca how he can control the minds of men by using magic powers. The statue of Teshcata is pulled down and in its ruins, Tozo finds the sacred mirror that holds the key to the hiding place of the missing crowns of Chichen-Itza. If they cannot be found, the royal marriage between Prince Heumac and Empress Chimalma will not take place.

Original ITV Transmission: 17 April 1978

 

Episode 2.4

Nasca uses a magic lamp to mesmerise Chimalma and her councillors, and exert his evil influence over them. Keelag poisons the first of the city wells and as the madness spreads, one of its victims is brought before the court. Tozo is tortured by Xipec and his followers to force him to reveal the whereabouts of the sacred mirror of Teshcata.

Original ITV Transmission: 24 April 1978

 

Episode 2.5

The forces of evil gather momentum and the lives of Tozo and Prince Heumac are in danger. Nasca tricks Empress Chimalma into believing that she caused the madness that has struck down the city; to atone she must forfeit her life.

Original ITV Transmission: 1 May 1978

 

Episode 2.6

Tozo discovers the secret of Teshcata’s dark mirror and solves the mystery of the missing crowns of Chichen-Itza. His master, Prince Heumac, is challenged to fight Xipec to the death in ritual hand-to-hand combat. In a final desperate bid to seize power, Nasca confronts the followers of Quala in the Temple.

Original ITV Transmission: 8 May 1978

 

 

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