Another short entry: Tony Williamson’s “When Did You Start to Stop Seeing Things?” requires a lot of “TV logic” when it comes to hypnosis, fingerprints, masks, people alerting the heroes of the story to keep the narrative running for fifty full minutes instead of phoning Ivor Dean’s character of Inspector Large and wrapping things up much more quickly. But it’s incredibly funny and had us all laughing out loud, so why complain? Keith Barron has a small role as one of the villains; always nice to see him.
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We resumed Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) tonight after a few weeks on the shelf, but unfortunately Tony Williamson’s “Never Trust a Ghost” isn’t one of the strongest stories. Our son just flat out said it was the worst episode we’ve watched, probably because he doesn’t like seeing anybody not able to be believed. Marty stumbles on a killing and quickly gets Randall involved in some criminal scheme being played out by a trio of baddies – Peter Vaughan, Caroline Blakiston, and Philip Madoc – but Jeff can never get to the scenes of the crimes in time to actually see what Marty has seen. This doesn’t do him any good when the police get involved.
I think I wasn’t pleased because the bad guys act really “TV bad,” and time their scheme to the television hour. And for otherwise competent baddies, they seem to have overlooked that even the least competent policemen on Earth would notice that the room that they plan to leave for the cops will have one fresh corpse and two that had been shot about three days before. It’s always nice to see Philip Madoc, but this isn’t Williamson’s best script.
Holy anna, was that ever hilarious! Our son fell off the sofa laughing; kids are big with affectations, sure, but we were all laughing up a storm as things in this adventure by Tony Williamson spiral out of control. A con man, played by Anton Rodgers, accidentally ends up with a far bigger fish than he’d anticipated: one of London’s biggest mobsters. With only a short time to cough up the bearer bonds that he promised his actual target, the con man pulls Jeff into the mess, not realizing he’s getting a ghost as well. The con man can see Marty when he gets drunk enough!
I really love stories which feature the stakes getting hilariously higher and higher as one thing goes wrong after another. During one such spectacular mess, when things couldn’t possibly get any worse, Ivor Dean’s recurring character of Inspector Large shows up. It’s the most perfectly timed entrance ever and it had us howling. It’s easily one of the best episodes of the series so far.
It’s also the last episode of the series for the time being… to keep things fresh, we’re sending this wonderful show back to the shelf for a rest, but Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) will be back in August, so stay tuned!
Tonight, we rejoined The Champions for a run of seven last episodes of this incredibly entertaining show. “Project Zero” was written by Tony Williamson and it features a good, meaty part for Peter Copley as one of several scientists who’s been conned into thinking the top-secret research establishment in Scotland where they’re working is a government project, when it’s actually, of course, run by this week’s diabolical masterminds. And I use that term deliberately: this is a very Avengers scenario, right down to the nearby village, which is not quite abandoned, but overseen by one “everything is normal” fellow who’s there to pull the “gasp! you haven’t escaped at all!” routine. That fellow’s played by Nicholas Smith, and Jill Curzon also has a small role.
This is an incredibly good Sharron episode which more than makes up for a couple of the recent disappointments where the character was sidelined badly. It’s so satisfying on that front that I really should have used a picture of Alexandra Bastedo this time, except that there’s this scene with Craig and Richard which is completely amazing. Richard’s cover is blown and the bad guy has clamped a bomb around his neck. The scene where they free him is one of the most tense things I think our son’s ever seen. His eyes were wide and he didn’t dare breathe until it was over. They held the tension for so long that he about turned blue. If our son comes back to this blog to relive old memories once he’s grown up, he’ll certainly remember this scene.
I’m afraid I was working on another project and had to rush, so I watched tonight’s episode out of the corner of my eye. What I saw was completely wonderful. This is a splendid and very funny adventure where Marty gets targeted by a clairvoyant criminal played by Charles Lloyd Pack. He needs to make sure that no ghosts get in his way, so he and his associate, Alexandra Bastedo under a very unfortunate hairdo, pick up Marty’s widow as a client in order to exorcise Marty! There are some good fights and great surprises, and it features Ivor Dean as a police inspector who is really sick of Jeff.
In our son’s favorite scene, Jeff consults a doctor in Harley Street to discuss all of his ailing friend’s symptoms. The quack deduces that Jeff’s friend must be pregnant, and our kid howled with laughter. This is definitely one to come back to another day!
Our favorite eight year-old critic doesn’t have a lot of experience with poker games on TV, other than seeing Doug McClure win a few big hands in Barbary Coast, so I think it’s just window dressing to him, and he doesn’t know to watch for the “tells” in the actors’ faces as they communicate what’s going on, especially when the game is fixed. So he missed a big clue in Tony Williamson’s “The Trouble With Women” that leaves Jeff in debt to the club to the tune of £240. But that’s all right. He brings Marty along to the crooked game the next night.
Watching Marty spoil the bad guys’ hands was just one fun moment in a very entertaining story. It’s a play on the old detective story about the client who’s lying about her identity, with one obvious-in-retrospect twist and another that I really would never have seen coming. This week’s installment of Marty looking for help takes him to The Society of Spiritualists, which is a funny enough concept, but the obstacle that Marty finds when he gets there is completely hilarious – and spoiled by even a cast list, so don’t go looking – and revealed to the audience with one of the most perfect visual punch lines in any kind of program like this. All three of us were roaring with laughter.
Joining the fun this week are two actors we’ve seen in The Champions literally in the last month – Edward Brayshaw and Paul Maxwell. Denise Buckley, who plays the client, wasn’t in The Champions, but she was in The Avengers, The Prisoner, and Department S, so she’s familiar to fans of these shows.
I’m always impressed by viewers and fans who can spot reused props and costumes and locations. Just last night, I got a great laugh when Lex Lamb pointed out on Twitter that a key piece of the Swine Trek set from The Muppet Show‘s “Pigs in Space” started life as part of the mad scientist’s control room in the Doctor Who adventure “Invasion of the Dinosaurs.” I will never be that good with the details, but tonight I could point out that the big country house in this evening’s Randall and Hopkirk adventure doubled as the hotel in the Avengers story “Wish You Were Here,” which was filmed the same summer.
Tonight’s story was written by Tony Williamson, and Cyril Luckham plays a lawyer who hires Randall to keep several dozen birds alive, because some greedy relatives won’t inherit anything until the last bird is dead. Jane Merrow plays one of the relatives; she had auditioned for the role of Tara King in The Avengers, and so in another world, it would have been her stuck in that hotel in “Wish You Were Here” instead of Linda Thorson.
I figured there’d be a story where Marty goes for help by finding somebody playing with a Ouija board, and this was it. That scene’s pretty funny, but the one that we loved the most had Marty saving the day. One of the greedy relatives decides to pour gas all over the aviary and kill all the birds in a fire. But it’s awfully hard for a match to stay lit when there’s a ghost standing next to you! Honestly, this was the least of the three episodes that we’ve watched so far, but it was still very entertaining.
Uh-oh. With every passing year, the “magic” of television grows a little more hollow. “For some reason,” our eight year-old critic told me, “that looks like an actor standing in front of a picture.” Well, no, ITC didn’t fly Stuart Damon to Italy for a couple of establishing shots. A few years later, they did send Peter Wyngarde on a holiday to Italy with a cameraman to get some genuine on-the-peninsula footage to drop into three or four different episodes of Jason King, but The Champions wasn’t so glamorous!
Anyway, it was a fun story tonight, with Edward Brayshaw as a Mafioso who’s somehow driving his rivals and his Interpol pests to kill themselves. One of them goes over a cliff in a red car. I honestly thought the gag was that ITC sent a white Jaguar over that cliff into the quarry and they reused the footage in seven different shows. No, there’s actually a red car and a white car. They wrecked two! Surely they could have afforded to send Damon to Italy!