THE WITCHES AND THE GRINNYGOG (1983)
Article 2730 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-27-2008
Posting Date: 2-2-2009
Directed by Diarmuid Lawrence
Featuring Paul Curtis, Hilda Fenemore, Eva Griffiths
In a small English town, a gargoyle-like statue falls off of a truck hauling debris from an old church, and ends up in an old man’s garden as an ornament. It turns out the appearance of the statue (known as a Grinnygog) causes the appearance of several mysterious characters who were involved with a witch-burning that occurred as part of the town’s history.
This is a six-episode British TV series adapted from a novel by Dorothy Edwards. At one point, one of the children who is helping to organize a museum for the town asks the mysterious Mr. Alabaster whether there’s going to be any danger, and is told that it depends on what he means by danger. In some ways, this story is driven by this ambiguity; you’re not sure for a good length of the time whether what appears to be a gentle fantasy will turn into something more sinister. As a matter of fact, I hesitate to speak in terms of story, as I think it’s not really story-driven; it mostly recounts the various magical experiences of the various people most directly involved with the strange goings-on in the town. The series is full of little touches; without giving away too much, there’s a bell that doesn’t ring, a trip back in time, an animated ceiling, the magical creation of a hat, and the scene where we hear the Grinnygog talk to two separate people. There’s a definite charm here, but it never quite becomes compelling; despite its charms, it gets a little dull on occasion. Still, it’s a unique fantasy and worth catching.