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  • title card: white all caps text reading 'QUICK-QUICK SLOW DEATH' outlined in black and superimposed on the dead man's arm, showing the tattoo reading 'Lucille'
  • Huggins lies on the changeroom floor, the torn ledger on his chest and a dagger protruding from his waist
  • Piedi kneels on the floor with his hand on Emma's foot which he has plunged into the bowl of plaster; she is sitting with her legs crossed on a chair in front of him
  • Nicki and Emma try to teach their toe-crushing students how to dance the cha cha
  • Emma turns away from Lucille, worrying where she's going to hide the enormous garlic sausage Steed has just given her
  • The extras from central casting whirl around the ballroom in their evening best
  • The foreign agent pauses as he raises his cosh to belt Steed over the head
  • Emma and Steed dance away as a muslin veil is overlaid the picture

Series 4 - Episode 19
Quick-Quick Slow Death

8 stars

by Robert Banks Stewart
Directed by James Hill

Episode Rating

Subject 0-5
Direction 4 stars
Music 4 stars
Humour 4 stars
Intros/tags 3 stars
Villains
3½ stars
Plot
3½ stars
Emma 4 stars
Sets/Props
3½ stars
Overall
(0-10)
8 stars

I like this episode a lot, but would be hard pressed to say why - is the utter improbability of the plot? the hilarious performances by all involved? the unitentional humour of Diana Rigg's dancing? sexy Carole Grey? the garlic sausage? Perhaps it's the last two.

The Fashions

Emma's Fashions Steed's Fashions
  1. 'Hill' cruciform white jacket (black cross of buttonholes and waist) with contrast square at cross, black and white beret and driving gloves over 'Calvary' - a black minidress of the same pattern, but with the cross in white, white flat shoes
  2. white miniskirt with long-sleeved black blouse with fine white lace collar and cuffs, zip up the back of both, matching black and white handbag
  3. 'Chemin' black and white knee-length fur coat
  4. sleeveless black knee-length dress with a band of white over the shoulders, and two more across the upper torso, black and white flat shoes
  5. cotton collared knee-length dress, no waist, three buttons, the buttonhole seam stopping at the navel, long loose sleeves pinched into linked cuffs worn with white flat shoes
  6. (2)
  7. silver and white cotton and lace a-line dress, v-neck, sleeveless with metallic cloth along neckline and bands at the hem, on the diaphanous lace layers as well, worn with silver and white flat shoes, later with a pale lacy mask
  1. bowler, prince of wales check jacket (3 covered pockets) with dark waistcoat (silver buttons) and dark patterned tie, white shirt
  2. heavy tweed overcoat with black collar, double-breasted with six black buttons, flat slanted hip pockets, black bowler, white shirt, dark silk tie, dark suit, black umbrella with whangee cane handle and black leather gloves, black chelsea boots
  3. above, swapping the bowler for an admiral's hat and a silk topper
  4. (1) without the bowler
  5. dark single-breasted three-piece suit, cloth covered button throughout, with dark patterned tie and white shirt (double cuffs, city collar), black bowler
  6. (4)
  7. tail suit with white bow tie and waistcoat, black cloak and topper, black silver-topped cane, white gloves, later without the cloak and hat, but with a black mask

The Cars

Marque/Model/Type Number Plate
pram -
Austin 1100 -
Austin A60 -
Volkswagen -
Hillman Imp -
Vauxhall Viva -
Vauxhall Victor 101 ELM 193C
Triumph Spitfire HRD 234C

Who's Killing Whom?

Victim Killer Method
Arthur Peever Willi Fehr V* shot
Huggins Bracewell V* stabbed with stiletto
Willi Fehr V* Captain Noble shot
Fintry Bracewell V* shot
Bernhard Bracewell V* smothered with plaster
Click a name to see the face

Continuity and trivia

  1. 2:10-2:30 - The street shots don't quite match whenever there's a camera change - cars in the street are different, the side shots are on a different part of the hill, etc.
  2. 2:30 - Peever is young and has a full head of hair, but Fintry describes him later (6:08) as "...a funny little chap. Thinning hair, glasses. Middle-aged. Nervous". Which is an accurate description of the false Arthur Peever (20:02), and Steed also notes that the fake Peever matches the dead man.
  3. 5:24-5:34 & 6:05 - Fintry makes a couple of suggestions for tattoos Emma might like; a garter on the left leg, and "two little pink rose buds, one on each". She quickly changes the subject.
  4. 10:33 - Steed amuses himself at the suit hire company by trying on a number of different hats.
  5. 14:27/14:40 - Recognise that sign?
    The same sign is used in Quick-Quick Slow Death and How to Succeed... At Murder, most of the business names remaining the same (notably Gordon Jacksons Ltd.), just the key name changing.

    Note also that this building is in Mackiedockie Street, surely just around the corner from the shenanigans of Escape in Time, which took place in Mackiedockie Court.

  6. 16:40-17:40/17:00-18:00 Piedi calls the dance academy "The Terpsichorean Training Techniques" but the sign outside reads "Terpsichorean Techniques" and the writing on the mirror inside reads "Terpsichorean Training Techniques Inc."
  7. 22:01 - There's a thread stuck to the camera lens at top left in the MS of Emma and Nicki teaching Mr Wattakins and the stout man.
  8. 22:45-23:22/23:20-23:50 - Lucille tells Mrs Peel to teach Mr Marsh the foxtrot, rumba and the flat-bottom, so why does she teach him the cha cha?
  9. 26:30 - The CU of the sausage looks lightly different to the longshot. It looks like they redid the longshot after going over the writing more thickly.
  10. 30:19/31:08 - an allusion to Mission Impossible? Steed tells Mrs Peel to destroy the sausage after reading it. She then hides the sausage (hem, hem) behind some flowers in the foyer of the school where anyone could find it!
  11. 35:26 - The plaster on Bernhard's face is clearly broken before Mrs Peel taps it with the hammer.
  12. 45:00 - Realising that Steed is the intended victim, Emma tells him as they pass on the dance floor, "You're number nine!" He replies, "And you're dancing with garlic sausage."
  13. 45:05/46:35 - If you thought Peever's tattoo (2:35) or the exotic dancer's snake tattoo looked fake (6:12-6:20), you should see Ivor's rose! You can also see it at 25:21, where it looks a little better.
  14. Maurice Kaufmann (Ivor Bracewell) was Honor Blackman's husband at the time of filming.
  15. The very lovely Carole Gray went on to star in a handful of shilling shocker films, a definite waste of talent.
  16. Running time: 49'28"
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.

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