Another Philip Levene script; another unlikely phenomenon (time travel rather than a Venusian invasion in this one) that turns out to be a clever hoax. There’s an excuse for some period costumes and multiple scenery-chewing roles for Peter Bowles (his third Avengers, one more to go). But it’s not nearly as sinister or menacing as it thinks it is. And the scheme, although superficially plausible, lacks the convincing details – because even if we give the rather ropey time machine effects a pass, why would any of the ‘victims’ accept that end of their time journey would dump them unconscious back on a convenient on a sofa. Even the one really great sequence – Emma with an inflatable crocodile being hunted by a redcoat on a motorbike – is marred by the fact that the motorbike explodes after rolling down an incredible tiny embankment.
The production values again disappoint. The lanes and alleyways are obviously sets on a soundstage; the lighting and colouring again gives them away. There’s also another very poor prop, following on from the ceramic cabinet in The Fear Merchants – this time it’s the time machine controller, modelled (poorly) on a fruit machine. In the details, there’s a regrettable laxity: “You entered carrying your umbrella in your right hand – please continue to do so” Steed is told, yet his double carries it in his left.
This week Mrs Peel is an experienced expert on Elizabethan ballistics. Though she’s hasn’t totally abandoned the artistic interest – her sculpture from The Fear Merchants is still in her apartment.
I’d forgotten Judy Parfitt was in this one as well (as always, I remembered only moments after thinking ‘IT’S SUSANNAH HARKER’) and as with Bowles this is her third of four appearances.
This is the first episode in which we see that Steed has yet another new apartment. This time it’s done out in tongue and groove and lots of red leather. I don’t like it. (The second 5 Westminster Mews was clearly the nicest of his flats and I wish he’d kept it.) We also learn that Steed has an umbrella capable of emitting a knock-out gas from the tip (in addition to having a camera in the handle, etc. etc.)
Subtitle: “Steed visits the barber. Emma has a close shave.”
We’re needed: on the back of an invitation to a hunt ball.