“Homicide and Old Lace” Review

This would be awful, but it’s kind of fascinating how weird it is. I’m surprised by my fascination, since Mother features prominently as narrator. Made from the last few scraps of the Bryce produced episode which was to be called The Great Great Britain Crime this is given a new framing sequence and is augmented with fairly random pieces of series 5 (featuring Steed only, Mrs Peel does not reappear).

The footage from series 5 that I spotted included The Bird Who Knew Too MuchMurdersvilleThe Fear Merchants and Never, Never Say Die.

The criminal organisation here share a name with the titular outfit in the Cathy Gale episode Intercrime… strange Steed doesn’t remember that. They’re both written by Malcolm Hulke and Terrance Dicks.

From the clips we get, it certainly appears that The Great Great Britain Crime would have been fairly awful, but it has been ripped to shreds so perhaps it is unfair to judge it on what we get. It’s certainly bizarre – a man is shot and hastily buried, only to dig himself out – the explanation given by Mother is that he is wearing a bullet proof vest, but since this is invisible under a well tailored suit, that’s even more extraordinary. The remaining footage also includes a mini chase in a multi story car park (Italian Job much?) and Intercrime appear to have their own Q-branch, dishing out kits that include £20 in gold sovereigns (isn’t that also what’s in the suitcase Boothroyd gives Bond in From Russia With Love?) Intercrime also has a black member – taken with Have Guns, does this indicate Bryce did not agree with Clemens’ decision to exclude black characters from Avengersland? There’s also a Japanese man on the basis he was “most likely to be overlooked in a european city” (I’m not sure if that’s Clemens’ line or Hulke/Dicks).

This is blended into the framing device along with the series 5 footage appallingly badly. The editing is terrible, and on one occasion there’s a freeze frame and some comedy sound effects added to try make some old film fit. When there is insufficient footage to support the narrative, we just cut back to Mother for a blunt description of the action, even at the climax of a fight sequence. The tonal differences between the old footage and the new is smothered by naff silent film music (remember how artfully this was used in The Grave-Diggers? That feels so long ago…)

Mother’s aunts are like Statler and Waldorf, criticising what we’re seeing. “Why did he give them the scrambler code in the first place?” The problem is they have a point about the plot holes… But it just makes me think of all the other episodes they could have ripped to shreds. When they wonder why a useless guard got his job, I think of myself yelling the same question at my TV of all the useless agents who work for Mother despite their apparent lack of any gumption or experience.

In the Bryce footage, Tara is of course blond. Where in the other three episode, this was explained by showing her choosing wigs, here mother just says she’s blond because “it’s my story”. At the end of the story, Mother reports that the shock turned her brunette (maybe it was the recollection of this that inspired Dicks explanation for Leela’s eye-colour change at the end of Horror of Fang Rock?)

We discover that Rhonda is armed. Tara is a safebreaker.

The episode ends with Mother in the tag scene again; and over the credits we get an alternative piano version of The Shake. The only time the theme is varied for a single episode.

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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