“The Positive Negative Man” Review

Who hasn’t, while wearing rubber souled shoes, linked hands with fellow schoolmates to form a chain with the boy or girl on one end clutching the classroom’s metal doorknob, while at the other end a schoolmate’s hand rests on a Van Der Graaf generator? I know I have. The next person to try to enter the classroom would be guaranteed a shock when they tried, highly entertaining. So I’m sympathetic to the scheme that is hatched in this episode, of giving someone such a huge charge they could be used as a weapon. Also, the concept of broadcast power is looking a lot more credible, especially in recent months. So it’s a shame the physics in this is flawed at an even more basic level than in The Winged Avenger. For example, if the victim is flung across the room by the power of the discharge, why isn’t the PN Man flung equally powerfully in the opposite direction? Also, why isn’t he harmed by the discharge… It is stated, quite plausibly, that whoever earths Emma when charged will kill both himself and Emma so why can the PN man discharge into people or objects with impunity? Is it because the charge is only in the aluminium layer, because if so, why does it matter than he puts his aluminium boot on the floor? Also, Steed can’t put his hand in the path of the broadcast power… yet when it’s broadcasting from the van, it passes through both people and objects harmlessly. And how did his burn the papers inside the safe, actually?

I’d better stop picking at the physics of this one, though: what about the rest of the episode? Solid enough, though marred by the laboured comedy (the button-lip secretary, people shaped holes in walls). Certainly not impressive enough to distract me from the silly physics, but far better than the aforementioned Winged Avenger all the same. Among the things to enjoy is  some nice Steed-Peel camaraderie, and locations which include rather dilapidated abandoned research centre, with some disused sidings. And Mrs Peel using a little bit of devious flirtation in order to surreptitiously acquire a sample of make up from a suspect’s neck…

About Simon Wood

E-learning officer, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more…

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