Episode 22 - The Positive Negative Man7½ stars
by Tony Williamson
Directed by Robert Day
Steed makes the sparks fly
Emma gets switched on
||Intro & tag
|Another fine story that doesn't quite scale the dizzy heights of true excellence. Nonetheless, it's an electrifying plot that tests your tolerance of mayhem and watt -not. If Ohm-ly they'd made it more over the top. (Sorry about that).
Government scientists formerly associated with Project 90 at
Risley Dale have been suffering shocking deaths - the force of
which has forced them into wall and cabinets. Someone has
perfected the ability to broadcast electricity, with deadly
results. Steed and Mrs Peel traces the culprit: Creswell, the
Project's instigator. In one of the most obvious episodes ever
produced, the obvious villain is in fact behind it all.
Mrs Peel is abducted by being shocked unconscious, but Steed
rescues her, having thoughtfully worn rubber-soled shoes.
Creswell is brought down to earth, and Hawthorn catapulted
into the ceiling by an earthed Steed.
Free again, the Avengers find themselves inseparably
magnetised to Steed's Bentley - "Don't fight it, Mrs Peel."
- burnt orange dress with fawn trim (belt, collar, cuffs & button holes (which become a large central pleat of the skirt), grey(?) shoes
- red jacket & miniskirt, white skivvy
- floral pink/yellow/purple summer dress, buttoned, long sleeves, hot pink lining, lilac shoes, large oval shaped watch
- orange catsuit (not zippered) with navy trim (collar, belt, sleeve & leg piping), orange boots
- ...boots are replaced with white gum boots
- striped dress
- grey single-breasted long lapelled suit, 1 button, velvet collar & bright blue, white spotted, tie, white shirt , grey umbrella & bowler
- charcoal pinstripe single-breasted (narrow lapels) suit, grey tie, white shirt , black bowler & umbrella
- brown single-breasted suit, fawn felt collar, brown bowler, tan shirt, dark green tie
- navy single-breasted suit, black bowler, metallic blue tie, pale blue shirt
- grey single-breasted suit flaps on the hip pockets/breast 2 vents 2 buttons; grey tie with white spots, pale blue shirt, pale grey socks
- grey wide-lapelled 3 piece single-breasted 2 vents flaps suit, dark blue tie, white shirt , rubber galoshes
- grey/brown/green sports coat with brass buttons, 2 vents, 1 button on pockets (2 hip, breast), 2 buttons on cuffs, 3 buttons
Continuity and trivia
- 3:50 - The Ministry has four grades of Ministerial Assistants:
- Most secret
- Top hush
- 4:00 - Top hush grade assistants may also qualify for the special category of "button lip".
- 6:27 - I love the scene where Mrs Peel saucily tells Steed, "Don't forget to return the key"
- 8:00-8:15 - Diane West drives up in the Lotus and walks towards the Wavel Electronics building.
- 9:05 - Mrs Peel's Lotus has moved closer to the corner in the long shot from the window. At 8:00 it was parked behind the road markings, but now it's parked on top of them.
- 11:10 - That's a painted backdrop dimly visible through the grimy window, intercut nicely with a grimy location shot seconds later.
- 16:28 - There's another painted backdrop outside Creswell's French doors.
- 21:15 - Glorious misdirection of the viewer with the shot of Mankin's white boots.
- 24:32 - Rocky Taylor drives the Bentley.
- 24:34 - Colour shift in the picture due to the back projection.
- 30:23 - Diane West again, driving up to Risley Dale.
- 32:21 - How did Mrs Peel not see anyone when the van was able to drive away sdo quickly?
- 37:07 - Pinewood outdoor street set - used in The Morning After?
- 37:41 - An ordinary makeup insulates a girl against all sorts of things. (smirk) No, not those sort of things.
- 41:10 etc. - Rocky again, speeding down the country roads.
- 46:02 - handheld camera approaching the van
- 46:25 - There's a variation of the Spiderman theme - Laurie Johnson having a joke about "The Positive-Negative Man".
- 46:45 - You can see Rocky Taylor as Steed and Denny Powell as Creswell in the fight scene near the end of the episode.
- 47:10 onwards - The painted backdrop outside the window becomes particular obvious after Denny Powell crashes through it.
- Running time: 49'18"
A note on the timecodes
Where I have listed two sets of timecodes, the first is from the 2009-11 Optimum Releasing/Studio Canal DVD sets, any other timecodes are from the A&E and Contender DVD sets from a decade beforehand.
The new releases have been remastered and their frame rate has been changed, resulting in a shorter running time. However, the picture quality has increased markedly. I assume this is because they used a simple 2:2 pulldown (24 @ 25)
when converting from the original film masters (film runs at 24 frames per second, while PAL runs at 25fps, the new DVDs are in PAL format).
This pulldown was also the cause of audio errors on many episodes, especially for Series 5, as the audio sped up to match the new rate (4% faster), rather than being properly pitch-shifted. Checking the dialogue sheets, which list the feet and frames of the reels, it looks like the speed change is around 5.04%, so there may be some cuts as well - probably from around the commercial breaks and ends of reels, as they amount to about 25 seconds. All my assumptions are based on the episodes having been filmed on standard 35mm film, which has 16 frames per foot and runs at 24 frames per second, so a minute of footage uses 90 feet of film (1,440 frames).
These audio errors have been corrected in the currently available DVDs, but the 2:2 pulldown remains. There is also the addition of a Studio Canal lead-in, converted to black and white to match the episode for Series Four, but colour for Series Five, adding an extra 18 or 19 seconds to the runnning time and making it harder to match timecodes with previous releases. It's annoying that it has been slapped on every single episode, Series 1-3 didn't suffer this indignity.
The previous Contender and A&E DVD releases didn't seem to suffer from these problems, so I assume they either used soft telecine and preserved the original 24fps rate of the film (my preferred option in DVDs) or they used 24 @ 25 pulldown (2:2:2:2:2:2:2:2:2:2:2:3 Euro pull-down)
. Let's hope the much-rumoured bluray release will revert to native 24fps with soft telecine so we won't have these problems again.