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  • title card: white all caps text outlined in black reading 'THE POSITIVE NEGATIVE MAN' superimposed on Dr Grey embedded in the plaster of the wall
  • Cynthia takes the key to the safe from her stocking top
  • A close-up of Steed security Priority Pass, hidden inside his bowler hat
  • Haworth's high-charged finger touches the barbed wire of the fence, sparks flying everywhere as the charge is tranferrred to the wire
  • Emma is tied to a table in her orange catsuit, as Dr Creswell Haworth explain their plot while Creswell sprays Haworth with an insulating compound
  • Emma kicks Haworth away, her white rubber boot preventing her from being electrocuted
  • video - Steed and Emma become magnetised and are unable to pull away from his car ... or each other

Series 5 - Episode 22
The Positive Negative Man

7½ stars

by Tony Williamson
Directed by Robert Day

Steed makes the sparks fly
Emma gets switched on

Episode Rating

Subject 0-5
3½ stars
Music 3 stars
Humour 3 stars
Intro/tag 4 stars
3½ stars
3½ stars
4½ stars
Set Design
3½ stars
7½ stars

Another fine story that doesn't quite scale the dizzy heights of true excellence. Nonetheless, it's an electrifying plot that tests your tolerance of mayhem and watt -not. If Ohm-ly they'd made it more over the top. (Sorry about that).

Government scientists formerly associated with Project 90 at Risley Dale have been suffering shocking deaths - the force of which has forced them into wall and cabinets. Someone has perfected the ability to broadcast electricity, with deadly results. Steed and Mrs Peel traces the culprit: Creswell, the Project's instigator. In one of the most obvious episodes ever produced, the obvious villain is in fact behind it all.
Mrs Peel is abducted by being shocked unconscious, but Steed rescues her, having thoughtfully worn rubber-soled shoes. Creswell is brought down to earth, and Hawthorn catapulted into the ceiling by an earthed Steed.
Free again, the Avengers find themselves inseparably magnetised to Steed's Bentley - "Don't fight it, Mrs Peel."

The Cars

Marque/Model Colour Number Plate
Morris Minor van blue CMF 263A
Lotus Elan S3 glacier blue SJH 499D
Light tractor? red -
Bentley 4.5 litre 1927 British racing green YT 3942
Rover P6 powder blue JLL 376D
Ford Thames 800 camper van orange/white -

Who's Killing Whom?

Victim Killer Method
Mr Bryant Peter Haworth(?) V* Electrocuted/thrown out 12th storey window [prior to episode]
Charles Grey Peter Haworth V* Electrocuted
Maurice Jubert Peter Haworth V* Electrocuted
James Mankin Peter Haworth V* Electrocuted
Peter Haworth V* Steed, Emma & himself V* Ground self and is electrocuted
Creswell V* Steed Thrown out window (according to original script)

The Fashions

Emma's Fashions Steed's Fashions
  1. mustard dress with pale yellow trim (belt, collar, cuffs & button holes (which become a large central pleat of the skirt), grey shoes
  2. red jacket & miniskirt, white skivvy
  3. floral pink/yellow/purple summer dress, buttoned, long sleeves, hot pink lining, lilac shoes, large oval shaped watch
  4. orange catsuit (not zippered) with navy trim (collar, belt, sleeve & leg piping), orange boots
  5. are replaced with white gum boots
  6. striped dress
  1. light grey single-breasted suit with a felt collar, pale blue shirt, blue tie with wh spot, grey bowler hat & umbrella
  2. charcoal pinstriped single-breasted 3-piece suit, white shirt with subtle pinst or ribbing, knitted silk grey tie, black bowler hat & umbrella, boots
  3. mid brown single-breasted 3-piece suit with felt collar, 1 button at waist, matching bowler black umbrella, black waders, yellow/green shirt, forest green tie
  4. navy single-breasted suit, white shirt, navy silk tie, black bowler hat & umbrella, black shoes
  5. grey single-breasted 3-piece suit with double flap/sgl flap, white shirt, grey with white spot tie, grey bowler hat & umbrella, black shoes
  6. khaki jacket, taupe/grey trousers, pale brown shirt, dark olive green tie
  7. navy single-breasted suit, white shirt, navy silk tie, with rubber boots
  8. brown and green hunting blazer, yellw shirt, brown tie, brown bowler hat & umbrella, houndstooth trousers

Continuity and trivia

  1. 3:50 - The Ministry has four grades of Ministerial Assistants:
    • Confidential
    • Secret
    • Most secret
    • Top hush
  2. 4:00 - Top hush grade assistants may also qualify for the special category of "button lip".
  3. 6:27 - I love the scene where Mrs Peel saucily tells Steed, "Don't forget to return the key"
    ©1961-9 CANAL+IMAGE UK Ltd All Rights Reserved
  4. 8:00-8:15 - Diane West drives up in the Lotus and walks towards the Wavel Electronics building.
  5. 9:05 - Mrs Peel's Lotus has moved closer to the corner in the long shot from the window. At 8:00 it was parked behind the road markings, but now it's parked on top of them.
  6. 11:10 - That's a painted backdrop dimly visible through the grimy window, intercut nicely with a grimy location shot seconds later.
  7. 16:28 - There's another painted backdrop outside Creswell's French doors.
  8. 21:15 - Glorious misdirection of the viewer with the shot of Mankin's white boots.
  9. 24:32 - Rocky Taylor drives the Bentley.
  10. 24:34 - Colour shift in the picture due to the back projection.
  11. 30:23 - Diane West again, driving up to Risley Dale.
  12. 32:21 - How did Mrs Peel not see anyone when the van was able to drive away sdo quickly?
  13. 37:07 - Pinewood outdoor street set - used in The Morning After?
  14. 37:41 - An ordinary makeup insulates a girl against all sorts of things. (smirk) No, not those sort of things.
  15. 41:10 etc. - Rocky again, speeding down the country roads.
  16. 46:02 - handheld camera approaching the van
  17. 46:25 - There's a variation of the Spiderman theme - Laurie Johnson having a joke about "The Positive-Negative Man".
  18. 46:45 - You can see Rocky Taylor as Steed and Denny Powell as Creswell in the fight scene near the end of the episode.
  19. 47:10 onwards - The painted backdrop outside the window becomes particular obvious after Denny Powell crashes through it.
  20. Running time: 49'18"
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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