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  • title card: white all caps text reading 'HOW TO SUCCEED .... AT MURDER' outlined in black and superimposed on a close-up of Miss Purbright's wrist with the charm bracelet
  • J.J. Hooter wears a protective bandage around his invaluable nose
  • Close-up of the creepy ventriloquist's dummy which gives the women their orders
  • Steed puffs ot his chest as he pretends to keep fit; Emma, resting on the sofa behind him smiles at his antics
  • Mrs Peel, wearing a black leotard, is seized by the murderous keep fit women
  • Steed and Emma hold each other close as they are surrounded by the women and face Henrietta
  • Henry and the puppet Henrietta collapse against a poster of the real Henrietta after being shot by Steed, Henry still carries his revolver
  • Steed and Emma read books on ventriloquism ('ADVANCED VENTRILOQUISM' and 'THE VENTRILOQUIST') inside a moving caravan

Series 4 - Episode 25
How to Succeed .... At Murder

7 stars

by Brian Clemens
Directed by Don Leaver

Episode Rating

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

A bit work-a-day, but that's why these women started killing in the first place. The revelation of the mastermind can be seen coming a mile off, and it's a bit surprising that the liberated women of the story didn't see it for themselves.

The Fashions

Emma's Fashions Steed's Fashions
  1. Black dress with white dots, large white cuffs and triangular white pinafore front
  2. Shiny pale PVC jacket reaching to mid-thigh, with vertical slit pockets, a single vent becoming a seam up the spine, fastened by a buckle above the waist and concealed buttons, worn with herringbone pants, Edward Rayne's black & white boots and black gloves
  3. (2) without the jacket, revealing a sleeveless black top and a white belt for the herringbone hipster pants
  4. (3) with a black and white woolen jacket, thick black piping around the collar, and bands of black on the sleeves and waist
  5. (3)
  6. Rollneck shirt with double cuffs worn with a white skirt with a thin black plaid, large white belt
  7. White double-breasted jacket in wool with six large black buttons, 2 short vents, worn with herringbone hipster pants and a black belt, b/w boots
  8. (3)
  9. black leotard and tights
  10. Same style jacket as(7), but with a thin square pattern, worn with the same shirt and plain white pants
  11. (9)
  12. sleeveless black top with shiny black hipster pants and a white belt, b/w boots
  1. grey three-piece suit with high cut waistcoat, worn with a metallic tie and white shirt, matching bowler
  2. dark suit, tie and bowler, white shirt, with umbrella (black, whangee cane handle) and tan overcoat
  3. black rollneck jumper and dark trousers
  4. grey three-piece suit with a pinstriped shirt with white collar and metallic tie
  5. dark three-piece suit, 2 vents, with dark tie, white shirt and brogues
  6. dark polo shirt and trousers with Chelsea boots
  7. (1) - cloth-covered buttons
  8. tan overcoatDark suit and tie, diamond tiepin, with white shirt, light bowler and twill overcoat with dark collar-back, umbrella dark gloves
  9. (6)
  10. brown three-piece suit (cloth-covered buttons) with matching bowler, dark tie with flower motif, white shirt
  11. (4) - shiny buttons on waistcoat

The Cars

Marque/Model/Type Number Plate
Bentley (S1 - S3) or Rolls Royce (Silver Cloud I - III) saloon CGK 313B
Morris Oxford Series IV 201 EYW
Lotus Elan S2 HNK 999C
Mini (Steeds?!) -
AEC Regent III London Bus (RT 3315) (No 358 to Boreham Wood) LYR 534
Bentley UW 4887
Caravan KMD 959B

Who's Killing Whom?

Victim Killer Method
(9 other executives) (Throgbotham's gang) V* ? (prior to episode)
Mr Barton Liz Purbright V* blown up with TNT & plunger
Sir George Morton Sara Penny V* strangled with stocking
Jack Finlay Sara Penny V* poison dart
J.J. Hooter Gladys Murkle V* poisoned swab over nose
Henry Throgbotham V* Steed shot
Click a name to see the face

Continuity and trivia

  1. 8:30 - There have already been eleven murders by the time Steed visits Rudge for the first time, so nine preceded the events of the episode.
  2. 15:10 - Diana Rigg walks into the door of Hooter's office when trying to get past Gladys.
  3. 16:25/16:54 - Hooter explains the guard on his nose by saying, while wearing it, "No unpleasant effluvia can assail my nostrils; you see, I smell a great deal". Mrs Peel somewhat nervously replies, "You do? Ah, I mean, you do".
  4. 23:09/23:43 - Steed calls "the Colonel" for more information on the case, we can assume this is Colonel Robertson, whom he calls in Honey for the Prince and mentions on the 'phone in The House That Jack Built. An earlier 'phone call at 11:52/12:10, informing them of Finlay's murder, is presumably from the Colonel as well.
  5. 29:57/30:55 - The rooftop shot of Mrs Peel following Mary Merryweather into the keep-fit class briefly shows us the cameraman's suede shoes...
  6. 30:27/31:27 - Recognise that sign? Almost 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 one of them is in Mackiedockie Street, surely just around the corner from the shenanigans of Escape in Time, which took place in Mackiedockie Court. This sign also suggests that this episode happens before Quick-Quick Slow Death as the company would surely have been Barton & Co before Liz killed Mr Barton.
  7. 41:30 - Steed sprays the soda siphon at Liz to stop her shooting him - he misses completely but she ducks and runs anyway.
  8. 49:00 - same departure road as usual.
  9. Running time: 49'49"
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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