Included as a bonus feature of the long-delayed (and long, long overdue) compelte series DVD set of the 1980s BBC SF series The Tripods, and also available as a download for those with no interest in the DVDs, the Pool Of Fire Suite is an interesting experiment: original Tripods TV composer Ken Freeman, a master of synthetic textures, composed new music for key story points in the season of the show that was never made. Despite the fact that over 20 years have passed, Freeman makes an effort to make it sound as though this music is coming out of his synth rig circa 1986/87 – with minimal hints of the massive advances that have been made in synthesizers and/or sampling in the intervening two decades.
“A Plan Of Action” immediately sets the tone with an extended, minor-key statement of the Tripods theme, but this time slowed down to a dirge: it’s easy to imagine this music covering the scenes picking up from the second season’s cliffhanger, in which Will and his friends discover that the base from which their resistance movement has been fighting the Earth-dominating Tripods has been laid to waste. As easy as it is to picture these things, Freeman is free to explore the material without the timing constraints of composing to picture.
Freeman delves into a surprisingly bluesy, guitar-centered sound with a percolating ’80s-style synth backing in “A Drink With Ruki”, an a similarly upbeat brass riff lightens things up in “The Pool Of Fire” itself. “Summer Wind” also keeps things light for a portion of the story involving the view from a hot air balloon.
After the triumphant strains of “Freedom”, “The Conference Of Man” brings the Tripods theme back to the fore, this time in a much more confident (and less mournful) interpretation, but there’s still dissonant unease waiting in the wings: without the Tripods to unit humanity in a fight against a common cause, the newly freed human race risks splintering into factions fighting over its own resources. Where this storyline could have gone is anyone’s guess: there were no further books carrying the story forward, and of course there were no further TV adventures. So we’re still treated to an unresolved cliffhanger – albeit a purely musical one.
I’ve always been a huge fan of the original Tripods music, so the very notion that the BBC would commission Ken Freeman to provide music for adventures never filmed is a huge hit with me. The music is sensational – and I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking that it’s the BBC’s (and the audience’s) loss that a third season wasn’t made that could have featured music like this.
- A Plan Of Action (3:46)
- The Green Man (6:40)
- A Drink With Ruki (7:32)
- The Pool Of Fire (6:31)
- Summer Wind (4:40)
- Freedom (5:30)
- The Conference Of Man (5:33)
Released by: BBC Video (as part of The Tripods: The Complete Series DVD box set)
Release date: 2009
Total running time: 40:12