• title card: white all caps text reading 'A SURFEIT OF H20' outlined in black and superimposed on Barker lying on the ground, gasping for air in the torrent of rain
  • Mrs Peel sips a cup of tea in Eli's house while holding an umbrella over her head
  • Eli's boots lie at the feet of a man-shaped pool of water in the soggy field
  • Mrs Peel emerges from a hut dressed is a very tight PVC mack and black and white rubber hat
  • A close up of Sir Arnold's notepad, starting to get soaked with rain. It reads 'Rain contains silver iodide - excessive amount indicates it was introduced by man.'
  • Dr Sturm subjects Mrs Peel to torture in the wine press, her head and shoulders emerge from under the machinery
  • Close-up of Mrs Peel during the fight in the rainstorm; water pours off her cap and hair and she is thoroughly wet
  • Steed and Emma gaze meaningfully at each other before they depart in her Moke

Series 4 - Episode 8
A Surfeit of H2O

6½ stars

by Colin Finbow
Directed by Sidney Hayers

Episode Rating

Subject 0-5
3½ stars
Music 3 stars
3½ stars
Intros/tags 3 stars
Villains 3 stars
Plot 3 stars
Emma 3 stars+
Sets/Props 4 stars
6½ stars

A potentially good episode is marred by the protagonists - just why are they killing people with rain anyway? Emma looks great in a raincoat that is probably a few sizes too small.

The Fashions

Emma's Fashions Steed's Fashions
  1. black rollneck skivvy with pale wrap around jacket tied loosely with a cloth belt (dressing gown fashion) and matching knee length skirt with pale rubber wellington boots
  2. (1) with black high heels
  3. knee length leopard print double breasted overcoat with a high narrow collar, which hides the rest of the outfit, Diana's hair up, black gloves and patent leather handbag
  4. (2)
  5. tight black shiny PVC jacket and hipster pants, with black and white PVC hood, black gloves and skivvy, black ankle boots
  6. khaki tropical shirt and khaki corduroy pants, thin black belt
  7. (6) with loose PVC raincoat, which is taken off briefly
  8. zip-up leather catsuit with knee-high boots, later with a leather cap
  9. (5) without the hood and gloves
  1. brown country jacket (4 buttons, 2 small vents), white shirt, b/w plaid cravat with gold pin, black waistcoat with silver buttons, brown stovepipe hat, tan trousers, white gloves, black wellies, umbrella and hunting seat,
  2. (1) with brown chelsea boots
  3. (2) with white cravat
  4. brown serge three-piece suit - cloth buttons - with white shirt and dark tie, bowler and umbrella
  5. (2) with mid tone cravat, large gold pin
  6. (4)
  7. Prince of Wales check jacket with dark waistcoat, silver buttons, pale tan shirt, dark paisley tie taupe trousers and brown chelsea boots (replaced with wellies) dark umbrella and bowler, later with a yellow raincoat
  8. (2)

The Cars

Marque/Model/Type Number Plate
Mini Moke BOX 656C

Who's Killing Whom?

Victim Killer Method
Ted Barker Dr Sturm V* drowned by weather machine
Eli Barker Dr Sturm V* drowned by weather machine
Sir Arnold Kelly Dr Sturm V* drowned by weather machine
Dr Sturm V* himself V* drowned by weather machine
Click a name to see the face

Continuity and trivia

  1. Sue Lloyd went on to play 'Hanna Wilde' in the stage play of The Avengers, opposite Simon Oates' Steed (you can see him in You Have Just Been Murdered). After that, she had a long career in Crossroads.
  2. 3:15 - Driving down the country lane to the scene of Ted Barker's death, Mrs. Peel takes her eyes off the road while driving, and the car swerves. A car's horn blares to warn them, and they lunge for the wheel, just in time, but no car ever passes them!
  3. 3:15 et passim. - the Mini Moke that Mrs Peel drives in this episode, BOX 656C, was driven by The Dave Clarke Five in their film, "Catch Us if You Can"; Dave and the Five drive it to the meat market at the beginning of the film in order to appear in a commercial for meat - "Meat is Go!". (Dave Clarke was a stuntman before being in the band, which forms the basis for the movie).
  4. 5:15 - We see a close-up of a wide metal bowl collecting water drips but Eli doesn't put it down on the floor until 5:31.
  5. 14:55 - It's 9 o'clock at night, but the sun is shining brightly.
  6. 24:50 - Steed and Emma, with their meteorological instruments, are spotted in the field by Smythe and Dr. Sturm. Soon afterwards they drive away, and Frederick is seen hiding behind a tree. I assume he came out of the hatchway but even so, in bright sunshine, while wearing a black raincoat, it's unlikely he wouldn't be seen.
  7. 26:47 - Dr Kelly notes that Mrs Peel has taken a recording of 67.8% humidity, unheard of in England but common enough in tropical to mediterranean climates.
  8. 27:38 (28:28) - Why do they leave Sir Arnold alone in the field if their equipment has just been smashed?
  9. 28:24 - When Steed goes back to the wine factory after the meteorological equipment is destroyed, the shadow of a boom mike is in shot as he approaches the door to the store and his way is blocked by Frederick.
  10. 30:00 - Dr Sturm turns on the tap in the lab to show Steed the source of the 'rain' sound. Later on, Frederick turns off the tap in the background (30:56/31:50) while Sturm and Smythe are watching Sir Kelley then, after ordering him killed, the tap is running again (31:56/32:57).
  11. 31:23 - Dr Kelly drops his spectacles when the deluge starts and starts groping for them on the ground. He moves away in his search, but the next close-up (31:34/7) has him back at the original position.
  12. 34:48 - another outré bondage scene, this time with Emma strapped inside the wine press and subjected to the minutely controlled downward pressure.
  13. 38:35 - Steed's relatives: Uplon seeing the outline left by Dr Kelly's body in the muddy ground he observes, "I had an auntie used to make biscuits like this".
  14. 39:30 - The secret hatchway from the meadow into the sewer is carefully hidden by tamped-down grass and dirt, as found by Steed and Jonah. After Sir Arnold Kelly is killed, Martin Smythe and Frederick haul his body away and hide it in the sewer, presumably via the hatchway. So, how did the hatchway get covered and hidden, and grass and dirt get tamped back down on it after the two men were inside?
  15. 40:27 - Steed & Jonah turn at the sound of Emma screaming as the press drops onto her - but we don't hear her. The scream FX has been cut, it was probably too much for the censors or producers to allow.
  16. 42:28 - As Dr Sturm walks away, Emma wryly observes, "You diabolical mastermind, you..."
  17. 43:48 - When Steed frees Emma from the vegetable press, he mutters, "now press this lever up... or was it down?" Emma answers, "I think it was up." Steed then says, "well, let's be different and try down". Successful, he notes, "you were looking at it upside down." Good thinking! Except that... the top of the control panel would have completely blocked her view of the lever, as well as all the other controls!
  18. 46:05 - The technician who tries to attack them with the bottle and is knocked out turns up moments later, rushing into the rain-making room with Frederick and Dr Sturm, but turns into Smythe (46:12). When they're all dragged out again, the technician is still lying on the floor and has the others laid out around him.
  19. 47:47 - After the big fight, everyone is soaked to the skin. As they drag the bad guys out of the rain room, they're all suddenly much drier, with hair no longer matted down, and not even leaving footprints or puddles on the floor! (A similar problem occurred in You Have Just Been Murdered).
  20. 48:55 - that's not Macnee and Rigg in the Mini Moke in the closing scene!
  21. Running time: 49'50"
  22. Brian Tesler, Production Controller for ABC Television, considered Colin Finbow's script lacked the pace and excitement of the other scripts and thought it too 'science fiction'; little remains of the original draft in the broadcast print.
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).
Thankfully, the new blu ray releases for series 4-6 appear to use native 24fps with soft telecine so the running times and pitch all seem to be correct again along with a much grreatly improved picture quality, most notably in the Tara King episodes which are finally back to their original glory.

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