Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Doctor Syn Rides Again!


I just learned that tomorrow is the release date for Disney's new DVD release of "Doctor Syn, Alias the Scarecrow" which IMO is one of the best things the mouse has ever produced.

Doctor Syn is a favorite character of mine, an 18th century English clergyman who is the model of Christian love and charity by day. By night he dons a mask and dresses like a scarecrow to lead a band of smugglers. The two occupations aren't as different as they seem at first. The smuggling is to help the poor people of the marshlands of Kent who are being crushed by cruel taxes and victimized by press gangs who kidnap their young men to serve in the navy. Syn is appalled by this injustice and, as the Scarecrow, uses his wits rather than brute force to fight back.

It high adventure in the tradition of Zorro, but is much spookier. The Scarecrow costume is wonderfully creepy (hmm... I have a sudden inspiration for next Halloween!) and Patrick MacGoohan is perfect as both the gentle, intellectual parson, and the macabre Scarecrow.

This isn't just something I am a fan of. One of the extras tracks features an interview with MacGoohan, and I was lucky enough to suggest some of the questions used in the interview. I had written an article http://www.pjfarmer.com/woldnewton/Syn.htm a few years ago about the character as he was originally presented in the novels of Russell Thorndike (I've got a soft spot for masked avengers, and one who was a minister in his secret identity was irresistible)! As a result I became--maybe not an expert, but very familiar with the character. This led interviewer Larry Green (a very nice guy) to ask my opinion about a few things, and I leaped at the chance to help.

People think that knowing huge amounts of information about neat but obscure characters is a waste, but I am living proof that geekdom is good! :-)

1 comment:

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