Series 5 - Episode 58½ stars
The Bird Who Knew Too Much
by Brian Clemens
Directed by Roy Rossotti
based upon a story by Alan Pattillo
Steed fancies pigeons -
Emma gets the bird
|Set Design||3½ stars|
One of my favourites, even if it's not quite in the top five. The characters are well played, the locations engaging and a fast-paced and thrilling storyline make for a great episode.
Steed eschews the telephone for more primitive communications
means, and Emma gets an arrow in her wall.
Steed and Mrs Peel investigate the deaths of two agents, killed by Robin and Verret. Strange photographs taken in a no-flying exclusion zone of sensitive government installations lead them to Sam, a pretty model and the photographer she works for. First Steed, then Emma pose for the camera, before Mrs Peel is captured and placed in a lethal booby trap. Steed's continued preference for entering by the window saves her, and they're back on the trail. The key clue rests in the mind of Captain Crusoe, a prize parrot that has disappeared. Twitter is dispatched but Cunliffe proves to be the real culprit.
With the gang trussed up, Steed proposes they meet a bird, basted in red wine. but he has to shoot it first.
|Bentley Speed Six 1926||British racing green||RX 6180|
|Austin 1800||maroon,white interior||JYT 518D|
|Austin 12/4 saloon||blue||... 1483|
|Lotus Elan S3||glacier blue||SJH 499D|
Owned by Lord Montagu and on display at Beaulieu - National Motor Museum.
|Percy Danvers||Robin V*||Machine-gun|
|Frank Elrick||Robin & Verret V*||Pushed off scaffold into wet cement|
|Mark Pearson||Verret V*||Pistol|
Continuity and trivia
- 1:44 - Danvers has a wet knee, but his knee is dry again at 2:00 as he runs down the tow path. It's nearly dry when he leaps the barbed wire a bit later.
- 3:38, 7:29, 18:30-24:35 - The bird sculpture which receives Steed's arrow in the intro winds up in Tom Savage's studio (18:30-24:35) - a much sought-after piece! You might remember it turning up in the offices of Art Incorporated in The Girl from Auntie.
The sculpture appears in the first six episodes on this season, turning up for the last time in The Winged Avenger (there are no scenes in Emma's flat in The Living Dead, and she's redecorating it in The Hidden Tiger).
As Pat models... and as Emma does ...but wasn't it here?
- 9:50 - back-projection studio shot of Steed & Emma arriving outside Pearson's flat, there's a thread caught in the camera at top right.
- 12:20 - Patrick Macnee slightly fluffs one of his lines - he's on the 'phone to HQ, and saying goodbye to Mrs Peel as she leaves Pearson's flat at the same time, and realises halfway through saying "you have to arrange the discreet removal of Pearson's body" that he's meant to be saying that into the phone, rather than to Emma.
- 14:33 - It's those doors again! This time at Heathcliff Hall.
- 15:40 - Twitter mentions a few of the bird owners - the Duke of Duffup and Lady Cynthia Cashwash - the Duke of Duffup was also one of Steed's fake references in What the Butler Saw.
- 15:46 & 44:56 et passim - Diana Rigg keeps saying "Captain Caruso" instead of "Captain Crusoe" ... I think she only gets it right once in the whole episode.
- 17:27 - Tom Savage's studio must be near Mackiedockie Court (Escape in Time), as they're both near the same Stone Street. And they must both be near Purbright & Co. (Quick-Quick Slow Death) which is on Mackiedockie Street.
- 25:24 - One pigeon refuses to leave the basket and Verret has to shake it out.
- 26:50 - Why doesn't Robin kill Steed? He knows Verret has already been given orders to kill him and failed.
- 30:05 - Steed rings Mrs Peel on 269 2644 in this episode, her number changes so often...
- 30:19 - Mrs Peel has an answering machine, back in 1967 ... a big reel-to-reel tape job (it's an Ansafone). She was keeping up with Steed, who had one in The Fear Merchants.
- 34:45-40:15 - A major Continuity error at Jordan's house - Emma parks her car at an angle across the driveway in front of an old Austin 12, in front of the front door of the house (34:47), but the Lotus has mysteriously vanished when Robin turns up in his Austin 1800 - only Jordan's Austin 12 is visible is the long panning shot across the front of the house (35:17). Furthermore, the Lotus reappears in its previous position when Mrs Peel runs for the cover of the brick wall, Jordan covering her as she approaches Robin (40:11).
Emma casually parks her car But where is it now? Now it's back!
- 41:25 - Mrs Peel might dive off that diving board, but Diana Rigg didn't! That's stuntman Peter J. Elliott diving off the board - Cyd Child gets the diving duties in the next episode, here (40:26-41:10) she just runs behind a car, over the fence and across the concrete - you can see a pigtail very briefly fly out from under her wig.
- 43:34 - There's a thread stuck in the lens for this back-projection scene as well, it was probably filmed at the same time as the scene at 9:50.
- 43:34(43:17) - There's colour shift in a driving scene because of the backdrop projection - making Mrs Peel's blue catsuit a deep green and muting Steed's tie.
- 46:50 - There's a stand-in for Anthony Valentine but not Patrick Macnee in the fight scene.
- 48:28 - You can tell they've reversed the film of the car driving backwards - all the smoke from the exhaust is going into the exhaust pipe.
- This episode is riddled with Hitchcock references -
- The title is a clear reference to The Man Who Knew Too Much.
- Professor Jordan was the villain in The 39 Steps.
- Everyone believes Captain Crusoe to be a person, which is similar to a plot twist in The Man Who Knew Too Much, involving Ambrose Chapel.
- Villains using birds in their schemes appear in Sabotage.
- A pair of killers (one more prominent than the other) appears in North By Northwest.
- Mistaken identity is prominent and also occurs in North By Northwest, and many others.
- John Wood and Patrick Macnee are the only actors to appear in the original series and the 1999 The Avengers film.
- Running time: 49'19"