“The Curious Case of the Countless Clues” Review

Blackmailers commit murders in such a way as to be able to frame their victims. The dead are collateral damage. It’s like a more intelligent version of the scheme in You Have Just Been Murdered. Equally good returns with a fraction of the risk (though it’s still incredibly risky, and hardly a sane plan – Charles August Milverton, for example, would sneer). The episode is, however, somewhat underpowered and drags. Which is a shame, especially when Tony Selby (Love HurtsMy Summer With Des, Glitz in Doctor Who) is among the guest stars.

It’s the story John Bryce was in the middle of shooting when Clemens and Fennel returned to the show, so it’s another hybrid. For the most part, it’s taken reasonably seriously. But there’s a problem: the blackmail scheme requires that the ‘victims’ are suspected by the police of the murders – and the infamous Clemens edict banned policemen from Avengersland. The solution to this seems to have been to create a pseudo-policemen in the form of ‘Sir Arthur Doyle’ who, I’m afraid to say, literally has a deer stalker, magnifying glass and pipe. There’s some dialogue to explain that even Steed doesn’t know what his job is (as if the viewer is being told, in desperation: he’s not a policeman, honest) but when he has to arrest someone there’s no real room for ambiguity. So it doesn’t really get around the no policeman thing, and it’s excruciatingly unfunny.

As seems common in the later Avengers, Steed is very well connected – he knows a cabinet minister and a financier. Once again, his circle of friends become important as the plot intersects with his social life.

Tara has a bad leg. But unlike Steed in Noon Doomsday she doesn’t get sent to department S. Instead she stays in her apartment to play the role of sitting duck (and she’s completely useless, at least up until the moment she’s about to be shot). On the subject of Tara’s apartment – and, specifically, the doors – the main door seen to be at the top of the stairs, but it’s a plot point that someone comes through the lower level Forget-Me-Knot door. I’m going to give up trying to divine the reason why the front door need to be accessed by a flight of stairs from both the inside and the outside…

Steed’s steel bowler: he lands on his hat and crushes it – but when he tries to punch it back into shape, it sounds like it might be metal.

Steed’s car: being a Bryce episode, it’s the bentley, not the rolls. One small point in this episode’s favour.

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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