Support this site via Paypal
  • title card: white all caps text reading 'The House That Jack Built' outlined in black and superimposed on two marble lions flanking the front door of a large, whitewashed house
  • Centre of the maze - Emma stands near a strange, pulsing machine in a circular room with black and white concentric circles on the floor. Around it, strange arched passageways with zigzag and wavy black and whgite designs stretch away in every direction
  • Emma holds her old childhood doll as she looks the exhibit of her life
  • A plastic mould of Professor Keller's head glows in the blackness behind Emma
  • Emma cuts through a huge photograph of herself to find a way out
  • Professor Keller's face on the monitor, revelling in his posthumous revenge
  • The glass case surrounding Professor Keller's preserved corpse cracks and splinters as the house breaks down
  • Steed and Mrs Peel ride away on a tandem bicycle

Series 4 - Episode 23
The House That Jack Built

9 stars

by Brian Clemens
Directed by Don Leaver

Episode Rating

Subject 0-5
Direction 5 stars
Music 4 stars
Humour 2 stars
Intros/tags 4 stars
Villains 5 stars
Plot 5 stars
Emma
4½ stars
Sets/Props
4½ stars
Overall
(0-10)
9 stars

A remake of a Cathy Gale episode, but no worse for that. Diana Rigg shines in this solo vehicle. Great sets and wonderful direction makes this a masterpiece.

The Fashions

Emma's Fashions Steed's Fashions
  1. White double-breasted jacket with thin black piping around the collar, hem and hip pocket flaps, six large black buttons, two very short vents, hip pockets covered with flaps; worn with a white rollneck shirt with large semi-open double cuffs, white hipster pants with a black belt and Edward Rayne's white boots with the black stripe down the middle.
  2. (1) worn with two-tome chamois driving gloves and a honeycomb head scarf.
  3. (1)
  4. (2) without the jacket
  1. Dark polo shirt and trousers
  2. three-piece brown suit with dark tie (flower motif) white shirt with cuff-linked cuffs, suede back to collar, waistcoat with cloth covered buttons
  3. (2) with bowler, umbrella and tan single-breasted overcoat (three covered pockets, all on the right side)
  4. Dark three-piece suit, waistcoat with hard shiny buttons, mid tone tie with flower pattern, white shirt, black bowler.

The Cars

Marque/Model/Type Number Plate
Lotus Elan S2 HNK 999C
Bentley UW 4887
Tandem bicycle -

Who's Killing Whom?

Victim Killer Method
H.M. Prisons Officer ? Burton V* broken neck
Withers Burton ? V* bayonetted
Burton V* Professor Keller V* suicide box (done by machinery)
Click a name to see the face

Continuity and trivia

  1. 5:37 - Mrs Peel has a compass attached to her dashboard, which is affected by the magnetic key.
  2. 8:53/8:56 - Emma brakes suddenly to avoid Pongo and puts her other foot on the clutch, which would reduce the effectiveness of the braking!
  3. 10:15 - Those are stand-ins riding in the Lotus, it's not Diana Rigg & Michael Wynne.
  4. 16:04 - Pongo & Steed report to Colonel Robertson, who is also mentioned in How to Succeed .... At Murder and Honey for the Prince .
  5. 18:15 - The director cuts to a different camera as Emma passes through the door but the cameraman doesn't have focus yet - did Diana step off her mark when staggering back in shock?
  6. 20:10 et passim. - the director uses angled shots throughout, often mixing the angles jarringly, to create a sense of unease.
  7. 21:50 - Why would Burton still have mud on his boots?
  8. 21:30-22:00 - A dramatic reappearance of our favourite prop, the spiral staircase.
  9. 27:00 - A rare sighting of Patrick Macnee driving the Bentley! At 27:10 & 27:24, it's a stand-in, as usual.
  10. 27:50 - They damaged the Bentley when they drove it through the road closure sign, the far side headlamp is in pieces. Moments later they let down all the tyres (I sincerely hope they didn't actually burst them all with the metal spikes).
  11. 29:20-32:00/30:00-33:00 - The shots of Emma's family in the museum are clearly not hers - they're wearing Sixties clothes and hair styles in photographs that ought to date from the Thirties or Forties.
  12. 30:56 etc. - The pictures of Emma in the newspaper clippings are early publicity shots for "The Avengers" - Dial a Deadly Number in particular.
  13. 33:19 - The same publicity shot as used in What the Butler Saw, this time enlarged to enormous size and Emma cuts her way through it.
  14. 33:36 - The cut as she steps through the photo in the reverse angle doesn't match the one she just cut from the other side (and it's cloth instead of paper).
  15. 34:12 - How had Burton got inside the inner room without damaging Emma's photo as she had just done?
  16. 41:46, 43:10 etc./43:13 - Keller's suicide box last appeared as the lift to Armstrong's office in The Cybernauts.
  17. 46:55 - The computer read-out displays BANG! (backwards), amongst all the garbled text.
  18. Running time: 49'46"
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.

Join us on Facebook Become a Patron!