Presumably because of its surreal dream-sequence opening, this episode seems to be quite highly regarded, but it’s one of my least favourite. It has a much stronger, far less ambiguous paranormal element than Warlock. The first time I saw it, I expected a clever reveal that explained just how some diabolical mastermind had been pulling the strings to lead on the would be psychics. It never came. In Avengersland, apparently, telepathy is a thing. (So why isn’t everyone doing it? How can any secret be safe? Shouldn’t all officials have psychic defence training? Oh, never mind….)
I will admit the psychic dream bits are quite well lit and photographed, but perhaps not so well conceptualised. And MacNee look confused (or bored?) by the whole thing. In the real world, the design and photography isn’t too shabby, either – especially the realisation of the Mrs Havisham’s dining table in the Great Expectations suite. Steed says he dreamt of Janice Crane “stark naked with a splinter in her foot”. We didn’t see that in his dream…
Steed is excited at the prospect of a four poster bed (has he forgotten what happened last time he was given a room with one)? He also gets to sing, and declares his performance ‘Quite extraordinarily tuneful’; alas he’s not singing Kinky Boots but The Grand Old Duke of York – though his performance is certainly of equal calibre.
Edwin Richfield is back (The Girl on the Trapeze, The Removal Men, The White Elephant, two further appearances to come) and he’s a good guy, for once, though that doesn’t spare him a thrashing from Mrs Peel.
Steed once again withholds information from Mrs Peel, though for better reasons this time. There’s a nice development in their friendship as he makes explicit “You’re the only person I confide in”. It’s also the episode where there’s a direct reference to Cathy Gale (did he confide in her?) when he receives a Christmas card from her (“What can she be doing in Fort Knox?” – still, a year later? – well, still pussyfooting I guess).
Tag scene: pony trap (not reindeer drawn, although Steed calls the animal “Prancer”).