DVD
Huckleberry Finn and His Friends

Starring: Ian Tracey, Sammy Snyders, Blu Mankuma and Brigitte Horney
Fabulous Films / Fremantle Home Entertainment
RRP: 39.99
FHED2011
Certificate: PG
Available 28 May 2007


Enjoy for the first time ever on DVD
all 26 full length episodes of Huckleberry Finn and His Friends. The series was a huge hit throughout the 80's and 90's on British Television. This adaptation manages to combine Mark Twain's two classic books - The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - into 11 hours of essential television viewing...

Anyone who fondly remembers the TV series Huckleberry Finn and His Friends will no doubt be pleased to learn that this four-disc DVD collection is finally being released through Fabulous films. This collection includes all 26 episodes of the show's run as well as a new feature that tracks down a handful of the show's stars.

The plot follows pretty faithfully the original stories The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) written by Mark Twain. The show was a German/Canadian co-production and was mainly shot in Canada with Canadian and German actors (which explains a lot of the poor lip-synch as well as why Tom's Aunt Sally has an inexplicable German accent).

I remember seeing this series when I was young and really enjoying it. I thought that, viewed today, a lot of the show's charm would be lost on me as an adult. But, I'm happy to report that this series still stands up well today and is certainly the best attempt at bringing Twain's original books to life.

The picture and sound quality in this collection ranges from average to poor. It was a shame that the original prints weren't given a bit of a clean before being transferred to DVD. The sound is also all over the place. Some episodes are painfully quiet (meaning you have to whack the volume up on your TV to hear anything) while others are much louder.

I was pleasantly surprised by the extras. There's quite a lot of additional information on the series spread over a number of on screen pages of facts on all aspects of the production and cast members, but the highlight is a new 30 minute Making Of featurette. This takes us to Toronto to find Sammy Snyders (Tom Sawyer) working as a dance instructor, to Vancouver to find Ian Tracey (Huck Finn) who has has a steady career as a TV star over the years. While in Vancouver the filmmakers also track down Blu Mankuma (Jim) and Alex Diakun (Indian Joe) who are both still working hard as actors. The documentary makers also travel to Frankfurt to meet Tom Wagner, the show's producer.

It was interesting to hear that Michael J Fox and Sammy Snyders were both up for the role of Tom Sawyer, but Fox ended up going to Hollywood to try and kick start his career. The really odd thing is, is that I can actually visualise Snyders in the role of Marty McFly in Back to the Future... well, almost.

It's also interesting to note that a lot of the actors have gone on to appear in numerous sci-fi shows - most notably almost all of them have appeared in Stargate over the years.

While the picture and sound quality of the episodes is not what it could have been, this is still a great box set. And one well worth picking up for nostalgia reasons, or as a gift for a young child who's never seen the show before.

Darren Rea

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£29.99 (Amazon.co.uk)
   
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£31.99 (Play.com)
   
£28.99 (HMV.co.uk)
   
£33.99 (Sendit.com)
   
£29.99 (Bensons-world.co.uk)
   
£33.97 (Thehut.com)

All prices correct at time of going to press.