“Death Dispatch” Review

We’re in Jamaica! I joked about having an episode set further afield than France and suddenly we’re galavanting through Columbia and Peru… Just as The Removal Men, the hot location is conveyed by having a scene with Steed and One Ten at the poolside. Once again, Steed is dressed in a ‘casual’ holiday outfit rather than the three-piece but he doesn’t strip off in this one, despite sporting a dressing gown (instead it’s Cathy who appears without her shirt on).

This is, in fact, the first episodes filmed with Honour Blackman, but there’s nothing in particular to signify that it was intended to introduce her. Steed obvious already knows Cathy, although it’s One-Ten who brings her in (he calls her ‘Catherine’ Gale – “Oh, Cathy!” Steed exclaims in response). A courier has been murdered, Steed will take his place, and Cathy will cover him. Steed gets out the champagne as soon as she arrives – again, if this was meant to be her first episode, then let’s start as we mean to go on! We get a hint as to her marital status when she insists on being called señora not señorita. But later in the episode, there’s a much less subtle info dump about her, as the villain reads from her passport: “Mrs Catherine Gale, widow. I’m so sorry. I see you are an anthropologist.” Well, maybe that’s an introduction, of sort.There’s some nice interplay between Steed and a comical diplomat who tries to put him under house arrest, rather unsuccessfully. There’s also, unusually for a non-Venus episode, a musical interlude with a singer in a bar. It’s not bad, but it’s not the Dave Lee trio.

In production terms, this is a standout episode for the wrong reasons. The acting in the opening scene is atrocious, the worst we’ve seen for some time. The guy gets murdered, but he’s died well before that. There’s a lot of film footage, as might be expected, to establish the locations – aircraft taking off and landing, that kind of thing. It’s probably necessary, given the ambition of the plot, but it does stand out. There’s also a very obviously painted backdrop to the terrace on which our villain does his plotting.

There is very little glory for our heroes in the resolution. They succeed, of course, in overcoming the villain and avoiding a coup – but Steed disarms him by holding a gun to his young daughter’s head. Even Cathy can’t take the moral high ground here – having just used her body as a shield. Extreme measures even for the early ruthless Steed – and quite out of character for Cathy.

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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