Another one that gets remade – only a couple of episodes after the one that became The Joker, this one became The Superlative Seven, albeit with a few more changes. It’s a great episode (another from Brian Clemens), and deserved to get remade; I’d forgotten all about it and I’ll hold judgement on whether the original is surpassed. It does have Leonard Rossiter and Anneke Wills (who would join the Doctor in The War Machines just 3 later) where the remake has Donald Sutherland and Charlotte Rampling (not to mention Brian Blessed). Unlike the remake, which is set on a plane, this story is set on a train – and I wish more trains were like this (commenting would be a lot more fun with a bar and soft furnishing). The deserted station (with the ‘Wolverhampton’ sign covering the genuine ‘Badgers Mount’) is something Clemens would also recycle in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Station.
Marooning – and killing – people to prevent them buying a plot of land is perhaps a little far fetched, but it doesn’t really matter because it’s a great collection of characters in an authentically claustrophobic setting. Unlike the remake, which is ‘Emma-lite’ this one features both Avengers so Honor Blackman didn’t get a week off, after carrying Don’t Look Behind You on her own.
This is a Christmas episode (apart from Too Many Christmas Trees, are there any other overtly seasonal stories?) but making New Year the pretext of the party gives it a more plausibility. And it’s a good excuse for lots of champagne – on the train, and again in the tag scene.
There’s one production glitch – a very obviously breathing corpse – but generally the whole episode looks fabulous. The party is fun, the station atmospheric. All the actors in the ensemble are great. Ace.