This man walks into a pub…
It’s a boozy old tramp, and he staggers out of the pub again into the adjacent graveyard. He clearly has a brilliant sense of humour as he laughs about absolutely everything, including when he falls over. There was a rather more hollow sounding ‘thud’ than expected at this point for a leafy cemetery. And his voice reverberates oddly for outdoors…and there’s not a hint of a breeze… Perhaps he’s laughing at the absurdity, but the smile is soon wiped off his face when the lid of a stone sarcophagus slides open and a ghostly man rises upright from within.
The teaser after the credits is at a road junction this week. Emma’s restraining order against Steed doesn’t appear to be working as he’s progressed from hanging around her home, popping up at the window and so on, and is now stalking her in public. He’s actually gone to the trouble of dismantling a traffic light and replacing the lenses with his “Mrs Peel we’re needed” message. I imagine him at 3 in the morning, on a stepladder, giggling to himself as he works on this plan.
I’m getting deja-vu. There’s something familiar about this episode. A ghost haunting a remote village (this one ringing the local church bells), and underground army, Steed’s companion locked in a cell… It seems to be a combination of last year’s The Town Of No Return and Castle De’Ath.
So we’re in a mining village. The boozy tramp is a hermit called Kermit (no really). Mrs Peel meets a couple of ghost hunters, one of them being Janley from the Doctor Who story Power Of The Daleks. I liked her in that, but I’m not keen on her here. She’s a bit much, though it’s probably the character rather than the performance.
Meanwhile Steed gets shot for being a suspected poacher. It’s Julian Glover who shoots him. I love Steed’s coolness, getting to his feet smiling! Glover makes an excellent villain. I wasn’t quite ready to witness him in nothing but his pants though in a later scene, lying on a sunbed.
The other ghost hunter is found hanging from a bell rope after Steed and Emma hear the bell tolling and run to investigate. The Avengers is brilliant for these gruesome novelty deaths immediately before the advert breaks, and this is a particularly striking one.
Later, Steed chases Kermit the Hermit who babbles about something under the ground before being permanently silenced by a sniper’s bullet. Emma encounters another ghost and disappears. She wakes up in a cell in what appears to be an underground town.
Steed investigates a storeroom, knocks out a man wearing some kind of hazard suit, and on hearing voices and footsteps descending the stairs he does the most incredible quick change into the unconscious man’s outfit! All within the time it takes for Julian Glover to descend the stairs, and without making a sound.
So as I mentioned in my spoiler above, the ghost business is a cover for an underground army hiding out in an underground village run by nutter of the week, Julian Glover. Steed investigates the disused mine but gets caught and put before a firing squad. I think this was my favourite moment. Steed remains wonderfully cool, composed and dignified in the face of his would-be executioners. When asked if he’d like a blindfold he glances at the firing squad, and with a half smile says “oh I think so”, as if being asked if he’d like to see the wine list.
This week it’s Emma’s turn to rescue Steed. After a confrontation with Julian Glover in her cell she overpowers him using her usual trademark technique (and looking rather unexpectedly butch when lifting him up above her shoulders and flinging him down again! Odd that her stunt double was so visible from the front in this scene). She escapes her cell and right at the last moment (these rescues are always at the last moment in any series aren’t they?) she ruthlessly (and gleefully) slaughters about ten men with a machine gun before making quips about Steed’s life flashing before him. She’s a psychopath. That would never happen in Doctor Who…