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  • title card: white all caps text outlined in black reading 'MURDERSVILLE' superimposed on an aerial view of an English village, a man lying dead in the grass beside the pond
  • Williams, his revolver drawn, fits a silencer to it in response to the sign requesting SILENCE in the library
  • Mrs Peel leans casually against her car, currently occupied by the murderous Hubert and Mickle
  • Emma is surrounded in the village by Hubert and Mickle, two other villagers appraoching off camera
  • Hilary stands against the stone wall wearing a metal Scold's Bridle, a sign on the wall next to her reads 'Scold's Bridle - used to Chastise the Nagging wife
  • Mickel controls the dunking stool as Emma is submerged into the village pond, the villagers watch on
  • video - Emma laughs out loud when Steed ends up stuck in the knight's helmet

Series 5 - Episode 23
Murdersville

9 stars

by Brian Clemens
Directed by Robert Asher

Emma marries Steed
Steed becomes a father

Episode Rating

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

Second only to The Hidden Tiger, as far as I'm concerned. There's really nothing to fault with this episode, one of the strongest pieces of television drama ever recorded.

The sleepy hamlet of Little Storping In-The-Swuff has its calm disrupted by a man coming out of the pub and gunning another man down. The villagers, however, carry on regardless.
Mrs Peel goes to the village with Croft, an old school friend who has quit the Army and retired to the country. His butler has disappeared, leaving all his objets d'art smashed around his house. Croft disappears, and Emma finds his butler's body, and is then knocked out by an unseen assailant.
When she recovers, she is told she had a car accident, but she notices Paul's watch on the wrist of one of the men in her car. She discovers she has stumbled upon a village of murderers when she finds bodies at the doctor's house, but is captured. After a dunking Emma is forced to ring her 'husband', John, and manages to pass on a message to Steed unbeknownst to the villagers. He turns up in time to rescue her from the local museum and Mrs Peel craftily pelts the villagers into submission.
Mrs Peel has found her knight in shining armour when Steed becomes trapped in the helmet she has just escaped from.

The Cars

Marque/Model Colour Number Plate
Citroën DS19 Estate black AYR 141B
Lotus Elan S3 glacier blue SJH 499D
Vanden Plas 4-litre black HOF 800D
MGB light blue 556 FYP
Ford Corsair white ABH 276B
Wolseley 6/99 police car black 649 CLC
Helicopter grey G-AVEE
Humber Super Snipe mid grey -

Who's Killing Whom?

Victim Killer Method
Martin Wilson Pistol
Unknown victim (off screen) Sunglasses-wearing assassin Shotgun
Forbes Hubert & Mickle V* Sickle
Samuel Morgan Frederick Williams Silenced Pistol
Major Paul Croft Hubert & Mickle? V* ?
Unknown man Trilby-wearing assassin Tommy gun
Unknown man Unknown killers Body thrown from passing car (Humber Sceptre, maybe), but probably already dead.
Dr Haymes V* Emma Spear
Click a name to see the face

The Fashions

Emma's Fashions Steed's Fashions
  1. purple catsuit with blue trim, putting on a helmet with visor in the final fight scene.
  2. white/silver silk dress with concentric circles motif, with a helmet at the beginning of the scene.
  1. khaki jacket, beige trousers, yellow shirt & handkerchief, brown tie
  2. grey single-breasted suit with flap pockets, grey bowler hat & umbrella, white shirt, light blue tie
  3. black/midnight blue tuxedo with silk facings and piping on trousers, pale blue ruffled shirt, blue velvet bow tie, black dress shoes, with helmet

Continuity and trivia

  1. 1:40 - As you can read at Avengerland, the village of Little Storping In-The-Swuff is in fact Aldbury, which remains pretty much the same today. It also appeared, under the moniker of "Swingingdale" ("Not very swinging.") in Dead Man's Treasure.
  2. 4:00 - There's a yellow cast on the picture for the whole scene in Steed's flat - bad lighting or was it not remastered?
  3. 5:50 & 20.59 - Product placement for Breitling Navitime watches.
  4. 9:46, 10:19, 18:23, 20:15, etc. - Mrs Peel's purple and blue catsuit appears to change colour several times throughout the episode - it becomes a red and deep purple/black catsuit. It's obviously caused by some dodgy back-projection techniques. It only occurs when she's inside a car, so they must be projecting the moving background onto the actors from the front, rather than onto a screen from behind, as was more usual (and more successful) practice.
  5. 10:00 - Mrs Peel drives Paul to his house they enter from the far end of the village, behind the large triangular road markings (let's call that North). Paul later runs into town (13:05), correctly, from the South and Mrs Peel drives back in later also from the South (26:15), to stop at the honey shop; however, the faked accident has her facing South, just near the honey shop, as if she had entered town from the North, and when Haymes drives her back from the house they come from the North (20:40). (Of course, the locals might know a shortcut that causes this).
  6. 10:16 - There's another For Sale sign in the village, I assume it's just for show.
  7. 12:55 - The shot of the "The Happy Ploughman" sign is a cut taken from the opening sequence
  8. 15:05-15:20 - I just love the scene where the dastardly Frederick Williams is about to shoot Samuel Morgan, but then the librarian, Miss Avril, points to the "SILENCE" sign and he slips a silencer on the end of his pistol.
  9. 16:25 - There's blood on Forbes' forehead, in contravention of Brian Clemens rules for this series.
  10. 21:33 - When Mrs Peel gets back into her Lotus after it's been dragged out from under the fence after the supposed accidents, there's not a scratch on it!
  11. 21:48 - Dr Haymes is in the credits with that name, and is referred to by that name throughout the episode, but the sign outside his surgery definitely says "Doctor D.L. Haynes".
  12. 24:48 - Dr Haymes seems to collect the same vintage car prints as Professor Rushton and Sir George Benstead.
  13. 26:15 - When Mrs Peel drives in from South it's looks like Diane West is driving; it's definitely not Diana Rigg and probably not Cyd Child.
  14. 30:20 - An obvious stunt double for Bates, but I havenb't identified him.
  15. 31:10 - clearly not the back of Colin Blakely's head, it must be a professional helicopter pilot.
  16. 33:42-33:49 - One of the iron maidens in the museum was also seen in Castle De'ath. The other? I'm sure I've seen it somewhere else as well.
  17. 34:10 - Are those the stocks from Escape In Time?
  18. 38:50 - Great intercutting of Cyd Child doing the dunking stunt with mid shots of Diana gasping for breath.
  19. 39:11 and 40:04 - Despite the great intercutting, two of the mid shots of Diana have her clothes much too dry compared to the rest of the footage.
  20. 40:44-41:55 - That telephone conversation in full:
    (phone rings) STEED: Hello? (faintly) EMMA: John, darling, it's Emma STEED: Mrs, oh, uh, Mrs... EMMA: Don't be silly darling, it's your wife. How's my little Johnsie-wonsie? STEED: Johnsie-wonsie's fine! you sound like you've been soaking up just a little bit too much grape-juice. EMMA: You haven't been out all day? Poor darling, go out and take the children with you. STEED: Children?! &emdash; You're in trouble, aren't you? EMMA: That's right. STEED: Is somebody listening? EMMA: Yes, and I've had an absolutely torturous day. STEED: Ah, would you mind telling me where you are? EMMA: No darling, that would be silly. STEED: Are you in Little Storping? EMMA: Yes, I've had some trouble with my car. I had to drive over to &emdash; HAYMES: Salisbury (quietly) EMMA: Salisbury, I'm calling from there. STEED: That's what they want me to think. EMMA: That's right. Kiss little Alan for me, and Julian, and Gordon and baby Brian. STEED: Can you give me a clue, hint, anything? EMMA: Don't forget that you promised to take them to the museum, you can do that after you've been to the pub. HAYMES: That's enough. (sternly) STEED: The pub and the museum? You want me to meet you in the pub in Little Storping? (Haymes taps Mrs Peel on the shoulder) EMMA: Good-bye. (she hangs up the 'phone) STEED: Mrs Peel?
  21. 44:30 - Rocky Taylor bursts through door, doubling for Patrick Macnee.
  22. 46:00 - Rocky returns to double for Patrick in the fight sequence and Les Crawford doubles for John Ronane.
  23. What was in those custard tarts? They're heavy enough to send someone as solid as Banks reeling, and have a similar effect on Mickle. They must have been made by Steed's Aunt Penelope (viz. her rock cakes in Dead Man's Treasure).

  24. 46:46-46:54 - Emma gets a very creamy body during the (food) fight at the end, but when she threatens the Jenny and Maggie with a custard tart she is much less splattered. Come to think of it, I'll bet it was Cyd Child who was creamed.
  25. 46:50 - That's Joe Dunne doubling for Colin Blakely.
  26. 46:55 - Speaking of Jennny and Maggie coming in - how come they didn't trip over, or even notice, Haymes' body with the spear in the chest?
  27. 47:40 passim - Mrs Peel is wearing a different helmet in the tag scene to that she wore in the fight sequence.
  28. Running time: 49'18"

Cast notes

  1. Joseph Grieg is wrongly credited as Joseph Greig.
  2. There's a whole bunch of people not credited in this one! Mostly just random bodies and killers, but some are quite notable. Anyone know who they are? 'Martin' also played 'Zoric' in The Correct Way to Kill, but wasn't credited for that either. You can also see him driving a Landrover at the beginning of The £50,000 Breakfast - he may be Peter Clay but I'm not sure.
    Villager #9 may be Bill Nick, a semi-regular on The Prisoner, Villager #10 also played the man killed by the "Trilby-wearing assassin", strange that he turns up for the dunking several minutes after being shot, and is shot shortly after being one of those pursuing Mrs Peel through the village.
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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