Series 4 - Episode 138 stars
Too Many Christmas Trees
by Tony Williamson
Directed by Roy Baker
Maybe festive, but not exactly cheerful; the villainous machinations of the disturbingly believable Jeanette Sterk give me the creeps. Welcome relief from the fancy dress costumes, especially Mrs Peel's.
- grey wool suit with skirt (knee length, zipped up back), tight at waist with slanted flap-covered pockets on hips, two buttons fastening jacket that has no vents, worn with pale grey rollneck skivvy, black gloves and handbag, black high heels
- (1) without the jacket, later with a blue and white vertical striped apron
- fur coat (mink?) and matching hood over grey rollneck skivvy and stretch nylon pants, white slippers
- (3) without the coat and hood
- Oliver Twist costume with tight woolen trousers
- white fur(?) coat with ribbed sleeves and three large round furred buttons to close, over white rollneck blouse, white headband and mittens
- cotton winter pyjamas, initially with bowler hat (dream sequence)
- dark dressing gown over pyjamas
- black pullover and dark trousers
- brown overcoat with dark collar, brown bowler, dark patterned scarf, over Prince of Wales check jacket, white shirt and dark flower motif tie, dark waistcoat with silver buttons
- (4) without the overcoat and bowler
- Sydney Carlton costume (briefly without jacket and waistcoat) (also in a dream sequence)
- black overcoat over black pullover and trousers, later with a black bowler
Click a name to see the face
Continuity and trivia
- 1:17 - Steed dreams of foam snow?
- 4:35 - Steed keeps his sugar in the canister marked "wild thyme".
- 5:41 - A Bond reference? The folder for Frederick David Marshall and his photograph inside it have the number 0015 on it.
- 9:02 - Steed's christmas cards: "Come fly with me, Amy"; a card from Carlotta; "Best wishes for the future, Cathy"; "Longing for you, Irma"; "Who is Boofums?" - "The Post Office mistress at Ongar".
- 9:15/9:22 - Steed receives a Christmas card from Mrs Gale and comments "Mrs Gale! How nice of her to remember me! ...What can she be doing at Fort Knox?" (Honor Blackman was filming "Goldfinger" at the time).
- 10:13/10:22 - Steed's Bentley is one of the older tourer types, with a large main windshield and two small personal shields. In most of the exterior tracking shots the main windshield is up (10:12-10:16, 10:47-10:50 & 10:55-11:10), but it's down in all the studio-shot close-ups (e.g. 10:16, 11:05). There's one exterior with the screen down (10:35-10:37) - the one that actually has Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg in it instead of the stand-ins, so it looks like an error by the Second Unit.
- 11:00 - it's clearly not Patrick Macnee & Diana Rigg in the car as they turn into the driveway. Probably Rocky Taylor at the wheel but I can't place the woman.
- 22:10 -
In one of Steed's nightmares, the Santa figure becomes an executioner beside a guillotine, and we catch a glimpse of his face - it's not Mervyn Johns, so who is it? (Here's a hint, he was Steed's 'replacement' in Quick Quick Slow Death). Strangely, moments later it clearly Barry Warren, whol was playing the medium Jeremy Wade.
- 13:37 - The upstairs hall leading to Steed and Mrs Peel's rooms is the same set as the upstairs bedroom hallway in Castle De'ath, the rest of the set - the stairs and great hall is the same as well, just with Dickensian and Yuletide decoration instead of the Scottish props.
- 36:58 - Steed gives Emma a retractable pen full of tear gas as a Christmas present, she later breaks it during the fight in the hall of mirrors.
- 40:07 - Steed sings "The Grand Old Duke of York" when Jenkins delivers his drugged drink and (42:40) - "Green Grow the Rushes-O" and (44:30) "Oranges and Lemons"* to prevent Janice from accessing his mind. Mrs Peel accompanies him on the last two after he quickly explains what he's doing.
* The strange bit about "here comes a chopper to chop off your head."
- 46:00/47:35 - Steed has a gun tucked into one of his boots which Emma removes in order to shoot Jenkins.
- The plot bears a great relation to Death's Door, except that there the dreams coming true is explained rationally (which is much more palatable to my skeptical outlook).
- Running time 49'34"
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.