Episode 1 - The Town of No Return8 stars
by Brian Clemens
Directed by Roy Baker
|Direction||4 stars||Music||4 stars||Humour||4 stars||Intros/tags||4 stars|
|Villains||4 stars||Plot||4 stars||Emma||3½ stars||Sets/Props||3½ stars|
|A splendid start to the season, but that might be because it was filmed a while down the track - Steed and Mrs Peel have instant electricity on screen, creating a classic.||8 stars|
|Emma's Fashions||Steed's Fashions|
|Great Western Railway 6100-class 2-6-2T||6108|
|Vespa GS||461 FGP|
|Rest of the villagers||??||??|
|Jimmy Smallwood||Saul V*||savaged by dogs|
|School Inspector||Saul V*||savaged by dogs|
Continuity and trivia
- There a delightful synchronicity between this episode and From Venus with Love - both are the first episode of the season and both feature Steed arriving at Mrs Peel's flat while she's practicing her fencing.
- This episode must have been a breath of fresh air for viewers back in 1965 - extensive use of location filming give it an openness that is new to the series, which had been studio-bound for its first three series.
- 3:14 - Diana Rigg's first 11 seconds on air is behind a mask, keeping the viewing public in suspense waiting to see the new Avengers girl.
- 4:10-4:30, 4:40-4:50 - stunt players substituted as we switch to the MS, returning to the stars after Steed is forced into the armchair, then again after Mrs Peel is trapped in the curtains.
- 6:00 - Steed declares there's no restuarant car on the train, so they'll have to rough it. He produces a caddy of China & Indian tea, cups, a silver milk jug and teapot (but no lemon), a cake stand with marzipan delights and a whistling, boiling kettle from his carpet bag.
- 6:30 - Mrs Peel prefers lemon in her tea, but as Steed only has milk, she has two sugars with milk.
- 6:39-6:42 - the locomotive 6108 is a Great Western Railway 6100-class 2-6-2T (stock footage from before Railway Nationalisation in 1948 even though the locomotive was in service until August 1965), but a later shot (8:24-8:29) of the train is different - the locomotive is a Fowler Class 4 2-6-4T, built by the London Midland & Scottish Railway between 1927 and 1934 (with very great thanks to Nigel Wassell).
- 13:20 - Smallwood goes off to see old Tom without paying for his round of drinks and Piggy Warren doesn't try to stop him.
- 13:40-18:40 - A Continuity error occurs when Smallwood goes looking for his brother Tom. He passes through the town with his suitcase in his right hand (13:40), putting it down near the forge in the smithy (15:10). He then proceeds to the church without it (17:20/17:52), but in the reverse angle of his approach to the church (17:31/17:54), and the beginning of his flight from it (17:55/18:22), the suitcase is back; only to disappear a moment later (18:40) when he's chased by Saul and the bloodhounds (Thanks to Jenna Clayton).
- 17:55 - We see Saul near the wall following Smallwood, then cut to him back at the cross, then again to down the hill from the wall.
- 23:55 - when we switch from the location shot to the studio, you can see the shadow of the gantry on the backdrop at the top right corner of the screen.
- 27:30 - An example of casual Sixties sexism with a gratuitous closeup of Mrs Peel's stockinged legs. This sort of thing is repeated often with Mrs Peel over the course of the next two series.
- 30:10/30:55-31:05 - Mrs Peel's wearing gloves when she discovers the vandalised parish records, but she's bare-handed in the close-up - another piece of left-over Elizabeth Shepard footage?
- 34:10/35:14 - When the real Mark Brandon collapses and dies, his head falls to the floor. A moment later, as Emma examines the photograph, his head is resting on his arm.
- 39:15 - The first appearance of the steel-reinforced bowler hat. Steed taps the steel rim on the forge after defeating Saul and later (48:16), taps the steep top against the bunker door after defeating the soldiers.
- 42:30 - When they're traversing the tunnels before emerging in the bunker, it fairly obvious that the set is only about 20 yards long at the most and has painted backdrops. They must have walked back down the same set twenty times, with ladders moved in and out and the drops changed around, much like the lift in Death at Bargain Prices.
- running time: 49'50"