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  • title card: white all caps text with black dropshadow to the top left reading 'DEATH'S DOOR' superimposed on a closed, ornate oak door inside an ornate marble jamb with 'CONFERENCE ROOM' painted in gold
  • Steed's Bentley hurtles down Spout Hill toward an oncoming van, the brakes having failed
  • Inside the blue warehouse, Melford panics as he faces an outsized calendar showing FRIDAY 13
  • Becker takes aim with a rifle, has just asked him to replace
  • The villainous chauffeur Jepson is easily defeated by Mrs Peel's karate skills
  • Emma stands in the blue warehouse wearing a green catsuit with lace-up sleeves, her arms are crossed and she holds a pistol in her right hand, pointed over over her left shoulder at a sign that reads SPOUT HILL. A stocking is over her head and she tops her outfit with a black bowler at a jaunty angle
  • video - Steed wakes from a dream to find that Mrs Peel mysteriously knows the exact theatre tickets he's booked them

Series 5 - Episode 18
Death's Door

8½ stars

by Philip Levene
Directed by Sidney Hayers

Steed relives a nightmare
Emma sees daylight

Episode Rating

Subject 0-5
Direction
4½ stars
Music 4 stars
Humour 4 stars
Intro/tag
2½ stars
Mastermind 3 stars
Plot
4½ stars
Emma
2½ stars
Set Design 4 stars
Overall
(0-10)
8½ stars

This was in a five-way tie for the #5 spot of my top episodes, pipped at the post by The Joker. It is one of the finest of the season and well worth you're seeing.

Government officials trying to attend a peace conference have been having disquieting dreams, which become reality with fatal results.
The Avengers are called in to ensure they do finally attend, but the next official tells Steed of a missing button on his butler jacket, and seeing a lion before he died, all of which come true. The Avengers babysit the next man to fill the post, but all three feel a sting on their necks and fall asleep, troubled by nightmares. It's all a plan of Becker, an Eastern European observer at the conference, and his cohorts, but Steed and Emma individually find the storage area where the delegates have been drugged and brainwashed. Stapley is exposed as the inside man, the bandaid on his cheek covering no wound and he dies by one of the of deaths predicted in the dreams - crushed by a chandelier.
Mrs Peel predicts a visit to the theatre.

The Cars

Marque/Model Colour Number Plate
Bentley Speed Six 1926 British racing green RX 6180
Bedford lorry white -
Daimler Majestic Major Limousine black, champagne upholstery AUV 719B
Alvis TE21 limousine (or maybe a TD21 Series II) blue CAN 972D
Austin Princess 3-litre Limousine by Vanden Plas black 147 BZX?
Austin Princess 3-litre Limousine by Vanden Plas black -
Bedford pickup red & white -
bicycle black -
Jaguar S-type white LMJ 109C?
Lotus Elan S3 glacier blue SJH 499D

Who's Killing Whom?

Victim Killer Method
Sir Andrew Boyd Jepson V* Run down by car
Jepson?? V* Emma Karate blow (this is according to the original synopsis).
Alfred Becker V* Steed Fires bullet through hole in target.
Stapley V* Steed, Emma, Haynes & himself V*, sort of) Crushed by falling chandelier
Click a name to see the face

The Fashions

Emma's Fashions Steed's Fashions
  1. tan and beige dress with belt
  2. orange jacket & skirt
  3. blue & diagonal plaid jacket with diagonal plaid sleeveless top & matching blue skirt, beige shoes & stockings
  4. above without jacket
  5. green catsuit with white trim & laces, white watch & boots
  6. purple and burgundy silk pyjamas
  1. charcoal pinstriped single-breasted 3-piece suit, white shirt, elec blue tie & handkerchief
  2. navy single-breasted 3-piece suit with a peaked collar, pale grey shirt, purple red patterned tie
  3. navy single-breasted 3-piece suit with a peaked collar above with embossed navy tie, white shirt
  4. navy single-breasted 3-piece suit with a notch collar, white shirt, navy tie [continuity error]
  5. brown and green hunting blazer with matching waistcoat, brown/red cravat gold pin, pale khaki shirt, brown bowler hat & umbrella, houndstooth trousers, grey socks, brown suede Chelsea boots
  6. charcoal chalk striped single-breasted suit, white shirt, knitted light grey tie, black bowler, black umbrella boots
  7. black/midnight blue tuxedo with silk facings and piping on trousers, pale blue ruffled shirt, blue velvet bow tie, black dress shoes

Continuity and trivia

  1. 3:07 - This was the first episode produced without the "Steed does this, Emma does that" subtitles.
  2. 6:50-7:43 - There's colour shift in the close-ups due to back projection.
  3. 7:00-7:40 - Stand-ins were used in the actual driving shots & long shots, Patrick Macnee & Diana Riogg are in the close-ups with back projection of passing scenery.
  4. 7:24-7:42 - Steed swerves off the road down Spout Hill to avoid that white truck, which we see then pass behind them over his shoulder. A minute later, when they're discussing what to do, it passes them again - you can just see it over Mrs Peel's shoulder.
  5. 8:10-8:40 - Sir Andrew gasps "How did that get there?" when he hears the ashtray hit the floor. How indeed - it was on the coffee table in front of Steed only seconds earlier.
  6. 10:00 - The same newspaper as seen in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Station" is being read by Sir Andrew Boyd in the back of the limo with Steed. Note that both the front and back pages carry the same headlines.
    It wasn't the same page when first given to him by Dalby however!

    In Dalby's hand...

    Death's Door

    A Funny Thing...
  7. 10:00-10:35 - There's colour shift in the close-ups due to back projection.
  8. 12:30 - tall dark str. / back of car
  9. 15:01, 39:42 et passim. -

    Death's Door
    Mission...
    The same outsized desktop calendar as seen in "Mission... Highly Improbable" is used by the villains in their dream-inducing warehouse.
  10. 18:52 (bluray) / 17:42 (dvd) - we see the shadow of the boom mic on the ceiling
  11. When Steed is walking to the car with Lord Melford, he's suddenly in a different navy suit that is never seen again after this short scene - was it Macnee's own suit?
  12. 18:48-19:20 - There's colour shift in the close-ups due to back projection.
  13. 28:35-29:10 - There's colour shift in the close-ups due to back projection.
  14. 31:30-31:40 - There's colour shift in the close-ups due to back projection.
  15. 34:04 (bluray) - we see the edge of the lighting gantry above Steed's 'ceiling'
  16. 33:38 & 35:03 - We see a close-up of the target Becker is shooting at as Steed arrives (33:38), but when Steed goes to change the target we discover that none of them has the same pattern of bullet holes as first seen. (35:03).

    Before

    After
    ©1961-9 CANAL+IMAGE UK Ltd All Rights Reserved
  17. 46:02 et passim. - Diana Rigg does some of her own stunts in the fight scene and at the end of it (47:08) she's limping as she rejoins Steed. It's the kick at 46:56 that does it, a lot of the rest of the sequence is Cyd Child sparring with Terry Yorke.
  18. 46:32 - Patrick Macnee and William Lucas, however, have stunt doubles do all their dirty work except the close-ups that were filmed after the master shot was compiled - Joe Dunne for William Lucas and Paul Weston for Patrick Macnee.
  19. 46:50 - the order of the delegate placenames on the table changes during the fight sequence.
  20. Running time: 49'19"
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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