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  • title card: white all caps text reading 'DEAD MAN'S TREASURE' superimposed on a close-up of a red chest with bronze reinforcement
  • Sir George points to the bowser, apologising that 'they've put the super in the standard'
  • Sir George points to the bowser, apologising that 'they've put the super in the standard'
  • A clue, written on the pub sign for 'The Vaults', it reads: 'SWINGINGDALE GET A MOVE ON'
  • Emma struggles with the Lotus simulator, trying to keep it on the track so as not to be electrocuted as Mike points a gun at her head
  • Alex and Carl lie in the wreckage of their crashed E-type Jaguar which has slammed into a tree
  • video - Emma is startled to discover that putting Steed's electric razor into reverse has given her a bushy moustache

Series 5 - Episode 20
Dead Man's Treasure

8 stars

by Michael Winder
Directed by Sidney Hayers

Steed rallies around
Emma drives for her life

Episode Rating

Subject 0-5
Direction 4 stars
Music
3½ stars
Humour
4½ stars
Intro/tag
3½ stars
Mastermind 3 stars
Plot 2 stars
Emma
3½ stars
Set Design
4½ stars
Overall
(0-10)
8 stars

I'm more a plot and character fan, but this episode really works despite being light on both of these. The sheer joy of rampaging around the home counties in classic cars is overwhelming, and you just have to go along for the ride. Well worth watching again and again.

Danvers, badly wounded by enemy agents, hides his dispatch box inside a treasure chest that is the prize in a forthcoming car rally, and sends Steed an invitation to enter the rally.
Steed and Emma do so in order to retrieve the box, but Danvers' killers pursue them. Stranger things are afoot, however, when the host of the rally is unexpectedly murdered, and contestants are shot at. Emma is surprised by her navigator, Mike, who also wants the box and straps her into a racing simulator that gives lethal shocks to the driver if they make mistakes - the same way he had killed Sir George.
Steed arrives to deliver her from peril. The Avengers recover the box, and the champagne, but Penelope Plain makes off with the prize money.
Mrs Peel is alarmed to discover that the 'reverse' setting on Steed's new razor gives her a bushy moustache.

The Cars

Marque/Model Colour Number Plate
MGB Roadster with hard plastic canopy white 974 MHK
Jaguar E-type red 648 CYV
Bentley 4.5 litre 1926 British racing green UW 4887
Lotus Racing Car Simulator red, white number 2 (2)
Rolls Royce Phantom I with coachwork by Brewster, in the "Regent Convertible Coupé" body style (American built) pale lemon, black running boards and wheel arches -
MGB blue 5020 PJ
Jaguar E-type Coupé
This car was owned by Brian Clemens
white 140 MPH
Triumph TR4A white AZV 171
Triumph TR3A white LZ 5753
Mercedes 250 SE Automatic W111 cabriolet 1966 burgundy LUC 507D
Triumph Spitfire blue HUU 772C
Landrover blue 704 CUT
Sunbeam Alpine white SYH 110B
Daimler Majestic Major Limousine cotswold blue -
Austin A110 Westminster grey -
MGA red ... ...
MG Midget red YWH 33
Removals van dark grey, white writing -
Landrover red -
Triumph Spitfire dark grey, black hood -

Who's Killing Whom?

Victim Killer Method
Bobby Danvers Alex & Carl V* Gunshot wounds
Sir George Benstead Mike V* Electrocuted
Carl V* Alex V* & Penelope Plain Alex shoots him accidentally when Penelope is hitting Carl with Steed's umbrella, causing the car to lurch.
Alex V* Carl & himself V* Carl crashes the car into a tree
Click a name to see the face

The Fashions

Emma's Fashions Steed's Fashions
  1. white & silver dress (concentric circles pattern)
  2. green scarf with fawn coat & pants, white skivvy, large brown leather watch, white boots
  3. yellow with brown print dress
  1. purple silk dressing gown with black spot, white shirt, red tie
  2. charcoal pinstriped single-breasted 3-piece suit, white shirt, red silk tie
  3. charcoal chalk striped single-breasted suit, pale grey shirt, pale grey knitted tie, grey bowler hat & umbrella, black shoes
  4. charcoal pinstriped single-breasted 3-piece suit, white shirt, red silk tie

Continuity and trivia

  1. 1:42 - Rio Fanning, appearing here as Bobby Danvers, went on to be a scriptwriter for the highly successful Irish production, Ballykissangel.
  2. 1:49 - There's a lot of doubling-back as Danvers tries to lose Alex and Carl - he passes the main gates of Benstead's house at 1:49 then enters a side gate further down the road. If he'd turned left when he left after hiding the papers, he would have evaded them completely.
  3. 2:22, 23:18 et passim - Carl & Alex pass the barn while looking for Danvers. Later on, the competitors all pass that barn which turns up in Escape in Time and A Touch of Brimstone.
  4. 2:23 et passim. - there's terrible colour shift in the back projection close-ups.
  5. 3:18 - Benstead's house is given the same address as Hunt's house in Return of the Cybernauts: High Pines, Edgington. But it's a different house! Beresford's house is Woolmers Park, Essendon Road, Letty Green, Herts., while Benstead's is Shenley Hall, Rectory Lane, Shenley, Herts. WD7 9AN.
  6. 5:16 - The sound effect of the champagne cork popping is played a bit late.
  7. 6:13 & 6:52 - Breaking the rules : there's blood on Danvers' hand and on his shirtand later a bloody hand-print on the pillar. Blood was supposedly never to be shown in this era of "The Avengers".
  8. 9:00 et passim. - Fabulously unrealistic screeching tyres FX, which we hear repeatedly throughout the episode.
  9. 9:19, 21:50 et passim. - The daytime back projection close-ups also have colour shift, but it's not so pronounced as the earlier night-time shots.
  10. 9:43 - Benstead is 'driving' a Lotus racing simulator.
  11. 12:24 - Sir George has the same vintage car prints on the wall as Professor Rushton has in Mission... Highly Improbable.
  12. 12:38 - Cyd Child doubles for Diana Rigg in the study fight scene.
  13. When we head outside for the race, only three extras are the same as they were inside - and 'Margaret Brady' is no longer paired with 'George Townsend', who isn't there at all.
  14. passim. - Most of the competitors, but Steed and Penelope Plain in particular, drive through the same intersection over and over again. Of course, it's possible the locations of clues are so arranged.
  15. 24:28-25:25 - Outside the pub in Mithering is parked a Daimler, which has mysteriously turned into an Austin Cambridge and moved out of the way by the time (25:15) Mike wants to drive the Mercedes right through where it was.
  16. 27:00-27:30 et passim. - The drivers and passengers of the Bentley, Mercedes and Jaguar are clearly not the actors.
  17. 29:20 -
  18. Swingingdale is the same village as Little Storping in-the-Swuff in Murdersville - it's actually the village of Aldbury.
  19. 30:18 - Steed and Penny are looking out the wrong side of the car in the close-up to read the clue.
  20. 32:35 - Rocky Taylor is doing stunts for Patrick Macnee.
  21. 39:14-39:20 - When Cyd Child stops the Mercedes outside Benstead's house, she goes straight past the front door, but when Diana Rigg gets out of the car, she's parked right in front.
  22. 39:20 - How did Mike get in the boot of the car?
  23. 40:29 - If Penny put sugar in Alex and Carl's tank (33:24), they'd be unlikely to be able to get moving again so quickly.
  24. 41:38-41:45 - Penny exclaims, "They're gaining!", but there's clear road in front of the Jaguar after it rounds the bend - the Bentley has disappeared completely, which suggests Alex and Carl have in fact lost ground.
  25. 44:55 - More stunt doubles for the fight scene in the living room.
  26. Do you think Bobby Danvers is related to the similarly ill-fated Percy Danvers from The Bird Who Knew Too Much?
  27. Paul Denyer's great Mercedes in the Movies site has a short clip of the 250 SE, along with the E-type and Bentley.
  28. Running time: 49'21"
  29. Valerie van Ost later became a respected agent for other actors.
  30. The Jaguar E-type Coupé was Brian Clemens' personal car (and was not damaged in the 'crash' - that was all paint and paper).
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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