Watching paint dry is, I guess, supposed to be boring because it’s slow. But, then, it wouldn’t be much more interesting if it were faster. So, watching wood rot turns out to be equally boring when it’s instant, which is unfortunate because it’s the central premise to this silly, unengaging plot. Maybe that wouldn’t matter, because this is a well-photographed episode with good fights, good locations, some extremely well played scenes and some good guest actors (Frank Middlemass). True, the score is almost totally recycled, but so what? There have been episodes that have done better with less.
The problem is, the special effects capability of the show just isn’t up to doing fast-acting rot, so instead they give us instantly disappearing wood. This is so implausible as to be distracting. I’m wondering, when they eliminate a door with their rot gun, how they leave the door frame intact? Especially when a nearby pencil gets made crumbly… It happens so often, too, and each time they have to resort to a close up or cutaway to try to hide the fact they’ve just stopped the film, carted the prop away, and then resumed. Inescapable.
It doesn’t help that the two main villains’ primary characteristic is snobbery. It’s boring. And irritating.
And then it compounds issues by making this week’s HQ for mother simply a room full of inflatables (“I’m listing” – sigh) and adding in a particularly shameless ‘let me tell you all my plans’ speech when the diabolical mastermind mastermind is suddenly revealed at the end.
The best moment is when Steed visits a rot epert in the belfrey. He has a whistle that can emulate a beetle:
Pym: Recognise it?
Steed: I might if you played a bit more.
Pym: Nerbium teselartum!
Steed: Of course! The overture.