Episode 15 - The Joker8½ stars
by Brian Clemens
Directed by Sidney Hayers
Steed trumps an ace
Emma plays a lone hand
|Direction||5 stars||Music||5 stars||Humour||3 stars||Intro & tag||3½ stars|
|Mastermind||5 stars||Plot||4 stars||Emma||5 stars||Set Design||2½ stars|
|Excellent from top to bottom. Diana Rigg and Peter Jeffrey shine in this homage to the Hitchcockian psychological thriller. I must enjoy the dark side because I rate this as one of the five best episodes ever.||8½ stars|
After a fall down the stairs in his apartment, Steed barely
has the strength to tell Mrs Peel she's needed - to care for
She has already arranged to spend a weekend in Devon with a bastion of the Bridge world - Sir Cavalier Rusicana. Steed is told an old nemesis of the Avengers, Max Prendergast, has escape gaol in Germany and heading their way. Realising that his injury was no accident, Steed sets out for Devon, sure that Max is trying to kill them. Alone in a country manor, Emma is terrorised by the strange housekeeper and a disturbed young man, then nearly murdered by Prendergast, but Steed plays the joker - finishing the criminal's plans.
A relaxing game of solitaire interrupted by Mrs Peel, the Avengers trade card tricks - Mrs Peel not wanting to ruin the trick that produces a bottle of Bollinger.
|Lotus Elan S3||glacier blue||SJH 499D|
|Bentley Speed Six 1926||British racing green||RX 6180|
|Ford Prefect (107)||blue||-|
click a name to see the face
|Major George Fancy||Max Prendergast V*||Poisoned razor blade|
|Strange Young Man||Max Prendergast V*||Pistol|
|Emma's Fashions||Steed's Fashions|
Continuity and trivia
- 2:15 - That's not Peter Jeffrey or Sally Nesbit reaching for the scissors!
- 3:30 - Rocky Taylor takes the fall for Steed.
- 3:25-3:55 - Right at the beginning of the episode, Mrs Peel arrives at Steed's apartment and rings the doorbell, then throws the vase through the glass to gain entry. All this time, the three lower buttons on her coat are fastened, but when she opens the door and comes through [3:47], the middle button is unfastened, and it's done up again moments later when she's mixing him a stiff drink.
- 4:00 - Steed's tuba, blown up in the previous episode, is back to it's normal shape.
- 4:15 - Emma mentions she's visiting Sir Cavalier Rousicana and Steed quips, "He sounds like an opera". Of course he does, the name is a play on "Cavalleria rusticana", the one-act opera by Pietro Mascagni.
- 6:24 - It's the same house exterior set as in The Superlative Seven, just a bit cleaner.
- 7:30 - It's the same hallway set as well, except the upper side stairs have been removed and the playing card door set into the back wall. At 9:24 - you can see the hole in the newel post where the side stairs have been removed.
- 8:39 - You can see the shadow of the boom microphone on the painting above Ola's head.
- 12:36 - Steed's kitchen is poorly designed - when he unplugs the coffee pot, the cord goes flying off the counter.
- 13:25 - Steed's military friend who's killed with the poisoned razor blade is billed in the cast list as Major George Fancy, but answers the telephone with the words "Wentworth here". Of course, he might have been Lord Wentworth.
- 22:38-22:50 (23:00-23:20) - The strange young man and Mrs Peel are much closer together in the first reverse angle than in the shots before and after, with the strange young man not stepping forward until just before the second reverse angle (at 22:47).
- 23:53 - The close-up of Emma while she's listening to the strange young man has her leaning on the bannister of the staircase, but the mid shots have her standing near the suit of armour. She only leans on the bannister after the strange young man goes to use the telephone (24:49). They must have forgotten that when they filmed the close-ups.
- 25:43 - Sir Cavalier's house is at Little Dayton, which is "the other side of Exmoor".
- 25:00-26:35 - This entire, very pivotal scene is a rewrite, the original script had it a 'phone call and George wasn't killed.
- 28:30 - They thankfully cut the line "I'm Jack the Ripper", the strange young man simply says, "I'm travelling incognito it's a fact!"
- 30:34 (31:26) -
- 31:43 - the reconstructed photo doesn't seem to be the same as the photo chopped up at the beginning of the episode.
- 39:26 - How long has she been sitting in the box room? The hallway is festooned with roses.
- 43:10-43:16 (44:40) -
- 45:46 - The hole in the card door caused by the bullet goes the wrong way, the paper sticks out instead of in.
- 46:00 - Rocky Taylor stands in for Peter Jeffrey and there's some very fine intercutting of close-ups of Peter. I'm not sure who took the tumble down the stairs for Sally Nesbitt. Diana Rigg seems to be doing her own stunts in most of the sequence, so we can assume it's Cyd Child, who so closely resembled her, in the action shots.
- 46:15 onwards - the original script has Steed appear from behind the card door and knock Ola down, then trip over her and fall down the stairs; it's Emma who saves him, so the poignant closing scene is another rewrite.
- 46:23 - How does Steed start the gramophone with the 'Mein Liebling' record (which must be upstairs somewhere) when he's lurking behind a playing card in the dining room?
- Running time: 49'17"
- Sally Nesbit is cousin to Sir John Hunt, who led the team which first climbed Everest.
- Some of Sally's stunts were done by Art Thomas.
Laurie Johnson composed the tune, Brian Clemens wrote an English lyric and Leo Birnbaum, a viola player in the orchestra, translated it into German [ unfortunately someone made an error when they produced the props and the record that was actually released, it should have been 'Mein Liebling, Meine Rose' - ed. ]. The title was "Mein Liebling, Mein Rose". For the recording session Mike Sammes of the Mike Sammes Singers, took on the persona required for this musical subterfuge. Mike was a much called-upon session musician of the day.
Strangely enough, the impact of the featuring of the record in that one episode resulted in the necessity to release a commercial 45 record of the song. Fans from all over fell under its strange spell. Even Kim Novak wrote to Laurie Johnson, from the States, requesting a copy of the dastardly confidence trick. From start to finish, the song and recording had to be accomplished in a matter of days to be ready for the episode. The name "Deutsche Phon" (see left) was a fictional record company name thought up by Brian Clemens for the label[ suggested by the name & colours of "Deutsche Gramophon" & the logo of "Domino" - ed. ]