Threads (DVD Release) - A Few Thoughts

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cdnbob
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Threads (DVD Release) - A Few Thoughts

Post by cdnbob »

Several weeks back I finally got around to watching the DVD release of the nuclear holocaust drama "Threads". I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on the production.

Over the years I've heard and read much about this one-off drama but had never seen it until recently. I don't recall this ever being broadcast in Canada (but I do recall watching the original TV broadcast of the similar American production "The Day After" back in the early 80s). I don't know if I had any preconceived notions regarding "Threads" and while I'm aware that the drama is highly regarded by many, I have to admit that I was somewhat disappointed with production. Unfortunately I found the overall production to be rather dated and poorly made. It seemed to be all over the place - maybe this was intentional, I don't know. I just know I didn't like it.

I fully realize that the subject matter is extremely depressing and the show is not something you'd sit down to watch with the same frame of mind as if you were watching an episode of "Doomwatch" or "Adam Adamant" - this is a serious examination of the affects and aftermath of a nuclear attack - that alone is depressing material for any television drama - I just couldn't endure the story.

I never made it through the whole two-hour production. I ended up turning off the DVD at the point where they find the town hall emergency staff all dead from suffocation. I found the story slow, and somewhat tedious, but I also found it disjointed. I also found it to be horrific, indecent, sickening and disgusting - though I'm sure this was because the producers of the story intended viewers to feel this way.

While I wasn't able to sit through the entire story, this isn't something I'd want to go back and watch again, or go back and pick up from where I left off. It's just not something I want to watch again. And while I say this, this doesn't mean that there is any thing wrong with "Threads". Perhaps for me, the producers achieved what they set out to achieve by making such a production. I know it's not a show one can say they enjoyed or appreciated, but I do know it unsettled me. Maybe that's the whole point of "Threads".

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Re: Threads (DVD Release) - A Few Thoughts

Post by brigham »

It's the whole point of good drama.
It's what distinguishes it from mere 'entertainment'.

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Re: Threads (DVD Release) - A Few Thoughts

Post by Brock »

I watched it at the time of the original broadcast, and I haven't seen it since. I remember it as truly shocking. There was so much hype about it at the time - nothing similar had been shown on the BBC before (although ITV had shown The Day After the previous year). I think it's important to bear that in mind when viewing it in the context of all that has gone afterwards.

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Re: Threads (DVD Release) - A Few Thoughts

Post by Jaz_Wiseman »

cdnbob wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 7:03 pm
Several weeks back I finally got around to watching the DVD release of the nuclear holocaust drama "Threads". I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on the production.

Over the years I've heard and read much about this one-off drama but had never seen it until recently. I don't recall this ever being broadcast in Canada (but I do recall watching the original TV broadcast of the similar American production "The Day After" back in the early 80s). I don't know if I had any preconceived notions regarding "Threads" and while I'm aware that the drama is highly regarded by many, I have to admit that I was somewhat disappointed with production. Unfortunately I found the overall production to be rather dated and poorly made. It seemed to be all over the place - maybe this was intentional, I don't know. I just know I didn't like it.

I fully realize that the subject matter is extremely depressing and the show is not something you'd sit down to watch with the same frame of mind as if you were watching an episode of "Doomwatch" or "Adam Adamant" - this is a serious examination of the affects and aftermath of a nuclear attack - that alone is depressing material for any television drama - I just couldn't endure the story.

I never made it through the whole two-hour production. I ended up turning off the DVD at the point where they find the town hall emergency staff all dead from suffocation. I found the story slow, and somewhat tedious, but I also found it disjointed. I also found it to be horrific, indecent, sickening and disgusting - though I'm sure this was because the producers of the story intended viewers to feel this way.

While I wasn't able to sit through the entire story, this isn't something I'd want to go back and watch again, or go back and pick up from where I left off. It's just not something I want to watch again. And while I say this, this doesn't mean that there is any thing wrong with "Threads". Perhaps for me, the producers achieved what they set out to achieve by making such a production. I know it's not a show one can say they enjoyed or appreciated, but I do know it unsettled me. Maybe that's the whole point of "Threads".
You clearly didn't get it - if you grew up in the UK in the 70s and 80s when nuclear war seemed imminent, Threads showed the madness of what we were all fearing.

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Re: Threads (DVD Release) - A Few Thoughts

Post by lovecraft »

I watched it at the time and it scared the bejesus out of me. Last watched it in the early 2000's on its earliest DVD appearance and it still took me days to recover. I have the recent 2 disc edition on the shelf but have yet to watch it....my hand has hovered over it a couple of times but not quite got the nerve yet. Pathetic isnt it!?!

I'm not sure I can think of anything as comparably hopeless and bleak.

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Re: Threads (DVD Release) - A Few Thoughts

Post by spflog1 »

I saw Threads on original broadcast and have watched it again a few years ago when I bought it on DVD as a birthday present for my wife - she wasn't impressed!

My opinion of it has remained the same over the years. I find it far too optimistic.

Maybe it's realistic in a VERY limited nuclear exchange scenario. Anything beyond that and the idea of people still eking out an existence anywhere in the UK is laughable.

From a production perspective I found it fine. It's very of its time naturally. It achieves what it intended; displaying the collapse of modern society and its aftermath. I always thought the ending was effective.

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Re: Threads (DVD Release) - A Few Thoughts

Post by Brock »

spflog1 wrote:
Fri Jul 31, 2020 4:01 pm
I saw Threads on original broadcast and have watched it again a few years ago when I bought it on DVD as a birthday present for my wife - she wasn't impressed!
Nor would I be! It's hardly birthday present material, I'd have thought.
My opinion of it has remained the same over the years. I find it far too optimistic.

Maybe it's realistic in a VERY limited nuclear exchange scenario. Anything beyond that and the idea of people still eking out an existence anywhere in the UK is laughable.
When I watched it I remember thinking "how did that Sainsbury's plastic bag manage to survive?"

cdnbob
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Re: Threads (DVD Release) - A Few Thoughts

Post by cdnbob »

Jaz_Wiseman wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 5:10 pm
You clearly didn't get it - if you grew up in the UK in the 70s and 80s when nuclear war seemed imminent, Threads showed the madness of what we were all fearing.
No I grew up in Canada in the 70s and yes the threat of nuclear war was present on people's mind here even then (how couldn't it be when we live right next door to the USA). I remember being on holiday on Vancouver Island with my parents in the early 70s and the air raid sirens going off. (I must of been 11 or 12 - apparently they used air raid sirens to notify of a forest fire) I could swear I could hear planes flying overhead and that they were going to drop bombs.
Bob Furnell wrote:I fully realize that the subject matter is extremely depressing and the show is not something you'd sit down to watch with the same frame of mind as if you were watching an episode of "Doomwatch" or "Adam Adamant" - this is a serious examination of the affects and aftermath of a nuclear attack - that alone is depressing material for any television drama - I just couldn't endure the story.
I think I did get it as my reaction to what I saw on screen was definitely how I imagine the producers of the drama wanted viewers to react.

Maybe I was a bit harsh on the drama but I think like many of you on this forum who have seen it, it obviously did affect me and it's not something I won't forget watching (even if I couldn't make it through the complete story).

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Re: Threads (DVD Release) - A Few Thoughts

Post by fatcat »

cdnbob wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 7:03 pm
Several weeks back I finally got around to watching the DVD release of the nuclear holocaust drama "Threads". I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on the production.

Over the years I've heard and read much about this one-off drama but had never seen it until recently. I don't recall this ever being broadcast in Canada (but I do recall watching the original TV broadcast of the similar American production "The Day After" back in the early 80s). I don't know if I had any preconceived notions regarding "Threads" and while I'm aware that the drama is highly regarded by many, I have to admit that I was somewhat disappointed with production. Unfortunately I found the overall production to be rather dated and poorly made. It seemed to be all over the place - maybe this was intentional, I don't know. I just know I didn't like it.

I fully realize that the subject matter is extremely depressing and the show is not something you'd sit down to watch with the same frame of mind as if you were watching an episode of "Doomwatch" or "Adam Adamant" - this is a serious examination of the affects and aftermath of a nuclear attack - that alone is depressing material for any television drama - I just couldn't endure the story.

I never made it through the whole two-hour production. I ended up turning off the DVD at the point where they find the town hall emergency staff all dead from suffocation. I found the story slow, and somewhat tedious, but I also found it disjointed. I also found it to be horrific, indecent, sickening and disgusting - though I'm sure this was because the producers of the story intended viewers to feel this way.
That's ok Cdnbob there is a fair few in the UK who felt that as well. Personally I don't think we needed anything to show the aftermath of a nuclear attack..the results would have been too horrific to envisage in a TV drama anyway and nothing like a writer could have possibly imagined. The only thing I remember about it is the Woolworths store exploding which I suppose was to signify a way of life ending? However many gave up halfway on this tatty and tedious programme, because they themselves were quite optimistic. I am not surprised it was never shown in Canada or anywhere else as they recognized it for what is was..a political message and politics make boring TV, because the issue is the driving force and not the entertainment. The message was don't bother defending yourself in the west as this is what you are going to get.
I am now going to take cover behind the grassy knoll LOL


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Re: Threads (DVD Release) - A Few Thoughts

Post by paul.austin »

Having grown up after nuclear war, Young Jane has a tooth filling and pierced ears for ladies' earrings.

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Re: Threads (DVD Release) - A Few Thoughts

Post by Simon36 »

Each to their opinion and all that, but this is a bit baffling:

“many gave up halfway on this tatty and tedious programme, because they themselves were quite optimistic”

Did they? How do you know they gave up on it?

And optimism about a nuclear attack was the one thing the programme set out to challenge.

How exactly is Threads “tatty”?

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Re: Threads (DVD Release) - A Few Thoughts

Post by fatcat »

Simon36 wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 8:50 am
Each to their opinion and all that, but this is a bit baffling:

“many gave up halfway on this tatty and tedious programme, because they themselves were quite optimistic”

Did they? How do you know they gave up on it?

And optimism about a nuclear attack was the one thing the programme set out to challenge.

How exactly is Threads “tatty”?


Apparently circa 1982 had been just as dangerous as 1962 in how near we were to a nuclear WW3 between East and West. and of course the signs were there with the 'protect and survive' PIFs etc which the public thought ludicrous anyway, they knew that if it did happen it would be hopeless in hiding under a table or staircase depicted in the PIF ..they certainly were not optimistic or had any illusions about surviving in the aftermath of a nuclear attack.

The optimism I mean was not about surviving a nuclear attack, but the fact that it was not going to happen in the first place. After Brezhnev had gone in the USSR the leadership became less serious, more easy-going, and the economy was starting to fruit after the 'Brezhnev stagnation', cumulating with the rather jolly relationship between Gorbechev and Reagan who also both got on well with Thatcher.

So by the time Threads arrived (was it 85?) the world I think had moved on a bit. I have to admit I am only talking from memory with opinions formed from conversations with my colleagues and friends of the day and snatches from media opinions at the time.Some felt they were being threatened ie. "dont do that or you will get this"
By tatty I mean that it could not make its mind up whether it was a drama or documentary but maybe I would have a different opinion today?

I don't think the first TV audience was robbed of anything not seeing The War Game either, as it offered no resolution just sheer hopelessness about situations Mr. Mrs. Bloggs have no control over anyway. Just another anxiety to add to the domestic ones you hoped to escape from with an hour or so by the TV set.

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Re: Threads (DVD Release) - A Few Thoughts

Post by Brock »

fatcat wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 12:02 pm

So by the time Threads arrived (was it 85?)
September 1984 on BBC2. It was repeated on BBC1 in August 1985, the day after The War Game was finally shown on BBC2.

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Re: Threads (DVD Release) - A Few Thoughts

Post by brigham »

It was a popular subject at that time.
I remember thinking "They're trying to whip up the old WW III hysteria again".

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Re: Threads (DVD Release) - A Few Thoughts

Post by Simon36 »

fatcat wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 12:02 pm
Simon36 wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 8:50 am
Each to their opinion and all that, but this is a bit baffling:

“many gave up halfway on this tatty and tedious programme, because they themselves were quite optimistic”

Did they? How do you know they gave up on it?

And optimism about a nuclear attack was the one thing the programme set out to challenge.

How exactly is Threads “tatty”?


Apparently circa 1982 had been just as dangerous as 1962 in how near we were to a nuclear WW3 between East and West. and of course the signs were there with the 'protect and survive' PIFs etc which the public thought ludicrous anyway, they knew that if it did happen it would be hopeless in hiding under a table or staircase depicted in the PIF ..they certainly were not optimistic or had any illusions about surviving in the aftermath of a nuclear attack.

The optimism I mean was not about surviving a nuclear attack, but the fact that it was not going to happen in the first place. After Brezhnev had gone in the USSR the leadership became less serious, more easy-going, and the economy was starting to fruit after the 'Brezhnev stagnation', cumulating with the rather jolly relationship between Gorbechev and Reagan who also both got on well with Thatcher.

So by the time Threads arrived (was it 85?) the world I think had moved on a bit. I have to admit I am only talking from memory with opinions formed from conversations with my colleagues and friends of the day and snatches from media opinions at the time.Some felt they were being threatened ie. "dont do that or you will get this"
By tatty I mean that it could not make its mind up whether it was a drama or documentary but maybe I would have a different opinion today?

I don't think the first TV audience was robbed of anything not seeing The War Game either, as it offered no resolution just sheer hopelessness about situations Mr. Mrs. Bloggs have no control over anyway. Just another anxiety to add to the domestic ones you hoped to escape from with an hour or so by the TV set.
What was it that the audience weren’t robbed of by not seeing the War Game - That sense of hope? I would question the sense (and truthfulness) of putting out a drama about nuclear war that was optimistic.

I think Threads had its mind perfectly made up about what it was. It was a drama. As for the public supposedly being uber-aware and having moved on somehow by 1984, I can’t imagine what that is based on. The very week Threads was shown, Edwina Currie was on television talking about a small scale nuclear conflict not being that big a deal.

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Re: Threads (DVD Release) - A Few Thoughts

Post by spflog1 »

fatcat wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 9:46 am
cdnbob wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 7:03 pm
Several weeks back I finally got around to watching the DVD release of the nuclear holocaust drama "Threads". I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on the production.

Over the years I've heard and read much about this one-off drama but had never seen it until recently. I don't recall this ever being broadcast in Canada (but I do recall watching the original TV broadcast of the similar American production "The Day After" back in the early 80s). I don't know if I had any preconceived notions regarding "Threads" and while I'm aware that the drama is highly regarded by many, I have to admit that I was somewhat disappointed with production. Unfortunately I found the overall production to be rather dated and poorly made. It seemed to be all over the place - maybe this was intentional, I don't know. I just know I didn't like it.

I fully realize that the subject matter is extremely depressing and the show is not something you'd sit down to watch with the same frame of mind as if you were watching an episode of "Doomwatch" or "Adam Adamant" - this is a serious examination of the affects and aftermath of a nuclear attack - that alone is depressing material for any television drama - I just couldn't endure the story.

I never made it through the whole two-hour production. I ended up turning off the DVD at the point where they find the town hall emergency staff all dead from suffocation. I found the story slow, and somewhat tedious, but I also found it disjointed. I also found it to be horrific, indecent, sickening and disgusting - though I'm sure this was because the producers of the story intended viewers to feel this way.
That's ok Cdnbob there is a fair few in the UK who felt that as well. Personally I don't think we needed anything to show the aftermath of a nuclear attack..the results would have been too horrific to envisage in a TV drama anyway and nothing like a writer could have possibly imagined. The only thing I remember about it is the Woolworths store exploding which I suppose was to signify a way of life ending? However many gave up halfway on this tatty and tedious programme, because they themselves were quite optimistic. I am not surprised it was never shown in Canada or anywhere else as they recognized it for what is was..a political message and politics make boring TV, because the issue is the driving force and not the entertainment. The message was don't bother defending yourself in the west as this is what you are going to get.
I am now going to take cover behind the grassy knoll LOL


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Responding to both the above comments.

I've never considered Threads to be a political message. The only message it contains is the simple common sense observation that a large scale nuclear exchange would have some rather unpleasant consequences. That's not something any sane individual would argue with.

Watching Threads isn't going to change your opinion on how best to avoid the situation occurring, whether that be by unilateral disarmament or by deterrence.

I think Threads actually downplayed the horror. It held back for instance on depicting some of the more gratuitous unpleasantness that certain survivors would've undoubtedly visited upon others, as civilisation collapsed around them and took away its previous constraints.

My only real criticism of Threads is that a nuclear exchange, of the magnitude stated, would've left the UK uninhabitable. Ultimately the effects would've been global via a wounded and poisoned atmosphere, causing a mass extinction event. Humans would probably be one of the species to survive this, due to sheer numbers and its ingenuity. They'd be living in areas remote from the conflict however but wouldn't be having a nice time of it.

I appreciated Threads approach of mixing drama with the occasional interjection of current affairs documentary style narration. I thought it was very effective. The ultimate test though is; was the program memorable? Well for me it certainly passes that test. Many moments from it stayed with me for decades.

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Re: Threads (DVD Release) - A Few Thoughts

Post by Juswuh »

The fact that Threads made such an impression on people is in itself evidence that the world hadn’t “moved on” by 1984. Nuclear anxiety was very much a theme of the early Eighties, literally from the beginning of the decade when Russia invaded Afghanistan.* Other nuclear war films of the time were The Day After, obviously, but also When The Wind Blows, Testament (Canadian) and Letters From A Dead Man (Russian). The political situation did begin to change when Gorbachev took over in 1985, but there was no guarantee that that was going to happen, much less that the Soviet bloc in Eastern Europe was going to break up, the Berlin Wall come down etc. And in 1986 there was Chernobyl, which showed that nuclear disasters could happen without anyone fighting.

(*Ironically, if Threads had been made and broadcast in the late Seventies it really would have seemed out of date. The Cold War and the Cuba crisis were yesterday’s news then.)

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Re: Threads (DVD Release) - A Few Thoughts

Post by fatcat »

Simon36 wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:45 am

What was it that the audience weren’t robbed of by not seeing the War Game - That sense of hope? I would question the sense (and truthfulness) of putting out a drama about nuclear war that was optimistic.

I think Threads had its mind perfectly made up about what it was. It was a drama. As for the public supposedly being uber-aware and having moved on somehow by 1984, I can’t imagine what that is based on. The very week Threads was shown, Edwina Currie was on television talking about a small scale nuclear conflict not being that big a deal.

No, with regards to The War Game most understood at that time that having a nuclear bomb drop in their back yard was the absolute mother of all hopeless situations and the dead would be the lucky ones.
There, of course, were the movies 'Strangelove' 'Bedford Incident' 'Failsafe' etc ... and TV dramas like 'A Voice in the Sky' 'The Frightened Sky' 'The Crunch'and a generation of servicemen where some had been to Hiroshima..after.

So the public was quite aware of what a nuclear strike would mean. Even Tony Hatch wrote a song about it, called 'Push a little Button' a satire on progress, but has the last chilling line which goes something like "somebody somewhere pushes a big button and bang goes you and me"

So I would question what use a TV showing of The War Game would have achieved, it had no entertainment value, Mr Mrs Bloggs would have gone to bed thoroughly depressed and if their kids had caught it they probably would have had nightmares.
If it's motive was to encourage nuclear disarmament by public protest then you have to remember those countries with warheads pointed at the UK would not be seeing it, they would not have been allowed to see it.

So as regards to Threads Once again I have no idea what it was supposed to achieve as a television programme...unless seeing dogs cremated etc was suppose to push the envelope in TV production shock value.




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paul.austin
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Re: Threads (DVD Release) - A Few Thoughts

Post by paul.austin »

Harold Wilson and his goons preventing the screening of The War Game when it was originally made is a pretty big story of authoritarian anti democratic censorship but for some reason it often gets overlooked.

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Re: Threads (DVD Release) - A Few Thoughts

Post by brigham »

"...If it's motive was to encourage nuclear disarmament by public protest then you have to remember those countries with warheads pointed at the UK would not be seeing it, they would not have been allowed to see it."

It was to promote UK-only nuclear disarmament by public protest; a widespread fifth-column activity at the time.

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Re: Threads (DVD Release) - A Few Thoughts

Post by David Boothroyd »

The historical documentation does not support the suggestion that the government prevented the screening of The War Game. James Chapman looked into it when the BBC Written Archives Centre opened the papers and found that the BBC had already become extremely concerned about it long before the government got involved. It was the BBC which initiated taking soundings in Whitehall, not the government (the fact that the Chairman of Governors, Lord Normanbrook, was a retired cabinet secretary was probably one reason).

It seems that Normanbrook may have wanted a firm steer from the government to suppress the film, but if so he did not get one. The government even went to the extent of suggesting ways in which the film could be shown but placed in context. While Hugh Carleton Greene always took sole personal responsibility for the decision not to show it, there seems good reason to believe that the decision to suppress it was in fact taken by Normanbrook and that Greene went along with it after the fact.

If you have Jstor access, the piece is here: https://www.jstor.org/stable/30036371?seq=1

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Re: Threads (DVD Release) - A Few Thoughts

Post by Kieran Seymour »

Just in case people have forgotten it exists, the BBC Radio 4 documentary from 2015 about The War Game controversy is still available to listen to.

Archive On 4: The War Game Files

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