Series 4 - Episode 57½ stars
by John Lucarotti
Directed by James Hill
The Avengers hare off to Scotland (well, Kent isn't it?) and return with a well-balanced and pithy piece, which doesn't quite set the world on fire.
- tartan tight-fitting sleeveless blouse, zipped up back, the tartan diagonal, with matching pants (tartan horizontal) and black and white boots, initially worn with a light-coloured pleated-pocket collarless long-sleeved cardigan (faux military style with epaulettes and dark metal buttons)
- silver/blue metallic crop top with matching hipster pants and unbuttoned jacket, the jacket fastened with two pins at the breast and just below the collar, black bra, no blouse
- white lace nightshirt (short sleeved, waist length) and white knickers, later with a sheer lace ankle-length nightdress over it (bow with long ribbons at low v-neck, which is ruffled, long sleeves with ruffled cuffs)
- (1) without the cardigan
- stretch jersey catsuit with vinyl triangular patches front and back, buttoned down the front, with Edward Rayne's black and white boots
- pale tartan kilt with light v-neck jumper over dark polo shirt, pale khaki knee-high woolen socks with chevroned tab, brogues, dark leather sporran
- dress tartan - same kilt, but with feathered sporran slung below it, large buckle on belt, black jacket with pyramidal silver buttons (one on each epaulette, three on each cuff, three visible below ruff of shirt, three on each side of front hemline), ruffled shirt (at neck/chest and cuffs), argyle socks (knee high), patent leather brogues
- diving gear (dark swimming briefs, flippers and mask, aqualung)
- Grey single breasted three-piece suit, two vents, flap pockets, lapels on the waistcoat. Worn with a dark tie and bowler, and white shirt
Click a name to see the face
Continuity and trivia
- Is it just me or does the plot make no sense? I know we're supposed to think Ian is behind it all, but why would Angus invite people to the castle if he wanted to keep things secret? Simply to throw suspicion onto his brother for the diver's death? It doesn't make any sense at all. Also, why doesn't Ian recall there hadn't been any ghost until quite recently, to cover up the noise made by Angus' minions under the castle?
- 1:10 - Castle De'ath is in fact Allington Castle in Kent, a frequently-used location in British television.
- 1:20 - the passage of the ghost is done using a hand-held camera, which gives the scene a very modern feeling.
- 1:23, 1:58 et passim. - The interior set, including the upstairs hallway, stairs and great hall, was also used as part of Brandon Storey's house in Too Many Christmas Trees.
- 2:00 - The iron maiden in the cellar reappears a year or so later, it's in the museum in Little Storping in Murdersville.
- 3:40, 34:32, 36:35 etc. - Throughout the episode it's rather obvious when a double is standing in for Diana Rigg for the long shots and action sequences, her hair is lighter and shaggier, and she's less lithe. She may be the "Emma clone" from The Hour that Never Was.
- 4:26 - ABORCASHAATA is Mrs Peel's cover in the episode, the acronym standing for the Advisory Bureau on Refurbishing Castles and Stately Homes as a Tourist Attraction. Steed has the unlikely cover of "Jock McSteed", a historian researching the wayward 13th Laird, Black Jamie.
- 6:23-6:30 - You can see the boom microphone wobbling about at the top of the screen as Angus shows Emma the banqueting table.
- 9:16 (9:25) - If you look carefully you can just see the string pulling Steed's paper boat.
- 10:03 - it's the same basement set as used in The Girl From Auntie.
- 12:30 - It's clearly stunt feet, given the camerawork, as Steed does the sword dance.
- 14:29 (15:15) - if Steed's brandy is vibrating like that during dinner, why isn't everyone else's?
- 32:42 - can you really knock someone out by covering the vent of their diving mask and turning off the air? Steed did the same thing to the guard in Room Without a View.
- 21:30 - the 'morning air' music, based on Pastorale is reused in Murdersville.
- 45:52 (47:36) - obvious stunt doubles for both Mrs Peel and McNab. It's a stuntwoman I don't recognise.
- 46:38 - the 'stone wall' moves when Mrs Peel fals back against it.
- 47:01 (48:37) - even more obvious stunt doubles for Angus and Steed during the sword fight. Ray Austin and Arthur Howell stand in for Robert Urquhart, not sure about Macnee's.
- Running time: 49'57"
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.