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  • title card: white all caps text made to look like stone blocks, with perspective from top right, reading 'EPIC' superimposed on a close-up of the top of a film award statuette in the shape of a woman holding a cloth above her head
  • subtitle card: white all caps text with black dropshadow to the left reading 'STEED CATCHES A FALLING STAR
					EMMA MAKES A MOVIE' superimposed on the close-up of the statuette
  • Youtube video - Steed drops by Emma's flat but she breezes past him at the door, telling him, 'I'm needed - elsewhere!'
  • The Avengers break all four walls; Emma's flat is revealed - to her and to us - to be a set on a sound stage at the movie studio
  • Kirby, dressed as an undertaker with white face and grey hair, calls to Mrs Peel from the hearse
  • Emma awakens in a bed, finding an Old West holster strapped around her, an ivory-handled revolver inside
  • In a parody of the MGM lion, Emma makes a demure roar as the wording 'A Z.Z. von SCHNERK PRODUCTION' encircles her head
  • Parody of 'The Cabinet of Dr Caligari' in the set design and 'The Perils of Pauline' as Emma inches closer to the whirling buzzsaw
  • Youtube video - Steed and Emma decide to relax by going to the movies, then decide to stay in instead. Emma kicks down the wall - they are still on Schnerk's set- and beckons for Steed to follow her home

Series 5 - Episode 11
Epic

9 stars

by Brian Clemens
Directed by James Hill

Steed catches a falling star
Emma makes a movie

Episode Rating

Subject 0-5
Direction 5 stars
Music 4 stars
Humour 5 stars
Intro/tag 4 stars
Mastermind
4½ stars
Plot 4 stars
Emma 4 stars
Set Design
3½ stars
Overall
(0-10)
9 stars

This is called the polarisation of your audience. I love this episode - maybe only The Hidden Tiger is better. The use of the same set for outside Emma's flat, and Schnerk's representation of outside her flat is inspired, and the symmetry doesn't stop there. Great acting, great clothes (well, mostly...), a fantastic score and wickedly funny lines. What more could you want?

A man resembling Steed is auditioned for a non-speaking part - a corpse.
Mrs Peel is already needed before Steed can get in the door, summoned to a remote country lane by an anonymous telephone call. Steed tags along, fearing a trap, but only an old priest on a bicycle disrupts the blustery calm of the country. The priest is in fact an old actor, who has just filmed Mrs Peel for a screen test as the star of a film, "The Destruction of Emma Peel". Mrs Peel is kidnapped by the villains, Von Schnerk, Syn and Kirby - played wonderfully by Peter Wyngarde, who was so excellent as the villain in A Touch of Brimstone. Chased around the set, shot at and attacked with swords and tomahawks, then finally tied to a circular saw, Mrs Peel looks set to have her dying moments filmed... Steed makes himself the understudy for the actor playing his corpse and finishes Von Schnerk's plans to make the epic of the century.
Emma decides she would rather not see an old Stuart Kirby film at the Plaza, and the Avengers decide to stay in for the night.

The Cars

Marque/Model Colour Number Plate
Lotus Elan S3 glacier blue SJH 499D
old bicycle black, wicker basket -
Austin taxi black VGF 345
Rolls Royce limousine black EXY 689
Rolls Royce Hearse black MUL 296
policeman's bicycle black -
Bentley Speed Six 1926 British racing green RX 6180

Who's Killing Whom?

Victim Killer Method
Actor Stewart Kirby V* Pistol
Policeman Stewart Kirby V* Tommy gun
Z.Z. von Schnerk V* Steed & himself V* Shot while struggling for pistol
Click a name to see the face

The Fashions

Emma's Fashions Steed's Fashions
  1. lilac jacket, skirt & stockings with purple skivvy
  2. green jacket & trouser with white cotton skivvy & ankle boots
  3. lilac trousers, purple skivvy (jacket not being worn)
  1. fawn overcoat and bowler, black umbrella, white shirt, red cravat, charcoal chalk striped suit, brown gloves
  2. pale grey double-breasted suit, felt collar, flap pockets, 2 very long vents, wide skirt, grey chelsea boots, umbrella and bowler, white shirt, pale grey cravat
  3. dark single-breasted taupe jacket, white pinstripe shirt, gold tie & handkerchief, beige trousers, beige slipon shoes, grey socks

Continuity and trivia

  1. 3:38-3:49 - There's dust on the caption scanner and probably the acetates as well - when the titles fade in spots appear all over the screen and there's even more when the Steed & Emma subs appear.
  2. 6:00 - Mrs Peel appears to record all her incoming phone calls.
  3. 8:27-8:37 - We see Mrs Peel in the back of the cab, then cut to other angles of the cab drtiving through what looks like Watford. When we cut back to Mrs Peel, the cab is still passing the same building as it was in the first shot!
  4. 13:00 - the long shot shows the whole side of the set open, so how come Mrs Peel didn't react until she opened the door and saw the cameras?
  5. 13:45 - The somewhat unconvincing exterior backdrop from Never Never Say Die (seen through the doorway when Steed is inside the cottage) is in the background of the scenes where Emma encounters Kirby dressed as a priest and undertaker.
  6. 15:56 - there's suddenly a lot more gravestones on that hill.
  7. 16:46-17:07 - The modernist painting which was being viewed by the millionaire in the vault in the episode "From Venus With Love" is in the props back stage: at 16:46 you can see the silhouette painting down the hall from "Steed" and at 17:07 Emma walks past the full painting. Not only that, but both copies of it - with and without the silhouette - turn up in two episodes of The Saint ("A Portrait of Brenda" and "The Power Artist"). The non-silhouette version reappears in an episode of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased).
  8. 17:15 etc. - The chair and cherubs were last seen in The Murder Market.
  9. 21:30 (21:17) - Why doesn't Mrs Peel notice Z.Z. von Schnerk & Damita on the stairs in the saloon scene?
  10. 22:38 - Product placement for Mrs Peel's simply enormous Ansafone.
  11. 27:45 - The wagon that Emma hides behind and she and Kirby later fight on top of appeared in From Venus with Love.
  12. 28:02 (27:51) - Mrs Peel discards the gun loaded with blanks (26:12) just before fighting Kirby. encountering the policeman, but is suddenly carrying it again as she leads him back to the dead body.
  13. 29:34 - The Simon Roberts & Son sign (undamaged version) from "The Winged Avenger" can also be seen in the back lot. David Lodge, playing a policeman, falls on it.
  14. 35:08 - The timing in the second fight scene goes wrong - Kirby swings at Emma before she can finish saying "ah ah ah!" to Damita.
  15. 42:27 - Schnerk tells them he needs more footage of them gloating over her before they throw the switch - but his camera is in the wrong place to film the mid-shot!
  16. 43:40 - The dead stand-in for "Steed" is on the prefab cobblestones from The Correct Way to Kill.
  17. 45:00 - Z.Z. von Schnerk sits down to play "the right music" - rollicking dramatic silent movie soundtrack stuff - with Mrs Peel as the star of "The Perils of Pauline".
  18. 45:50 - Emma is already at the control switch for the band saw but when the angle changes to Steed fighting Kirby alongside the saw, she hasn't quite reached it yet.
  19. 47:15 (47:00) - How did Emma and Steed obtain new outfits for the tag scene?
  20. 48:10 - Steed reflects, "Unbridled passion... why don't we just spend the evening at home?"
  21. Running time: 49'17"
  22. Isa Miranda suffered a cut to the forehead during filming when she was hit by a chair.
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.

Cast notes

  1. Peter Wyngarde (Stewart Kirby) had been the brilliantly evil John Cartney in A Touch of Brimstone and went on to be the lead in the two ITC shows Department S (see more trivia here) and Jason King. He played the character of Jason King in both.

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