“Silent Dust” Review

This doesn’t start well. Dead birds, comically toppling off branches. It’s the least well realised effect in the whole episode, and they run it up front – intercut with stock footage of flocks of birds taking off showing no ill effect whatsoever. Fortunately, the rest of the episode is rather good. Certainly the next scene, in which Emma is punting while Steed reclines under a parasol, is a hoot! There’s also the sight of Steed beating a man with a ‘down with blood sports’ placard to look forward to, and the fight scene has the chilling sound of hounds baying as a soundtrack.

The particularly unusual aspect of this episode is Steed – usually so invincibly debonair – gets shot. And, for good measure, caught in a mantrap. Ouch. It follows an extraordinary escape from his own carelessness – when he scoops some of what he supposes is (and proves to be) the incredibly toxic herbicide up with his bare hands and then eats an apple without washing his hand! As a result of being shot, Steed become delirious, and the choice was made to portray this onscreen by switching genre to Western, and having Diana Rigg play the bewhiskered medic. I’m still not sure if this is genius or lunacy, but it is quite memorable.

Emma proves to be quite an ornithologist (don’t try telling her you’re looking for a black-capped petrel). She also knows her Shakespeare and her Francis Thomson. Not, apparently, her D. H. Lawrence – the game keeper is called Mellors, but only Steed picks up on this.

In the pub Steed flirts with a very horsey girl. Emma’s face as she watches him trying his moves is an absolute hoot.

Random piece of Steed trivia: he takes size 9 shoes.

The tag scene transport is a hot air balloon, which is fun, but seems to waste the punt!

About Simon Wood

Lecturer in medical education, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more...

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