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Magic! Voodoo! Architecture!

In the dark and dangerous depths of Cornwall, a poacher is about to go off to work his patch. Everybody is amazed that he'd risk it, for there's trouble afoot, and deathly, deadly doings and whatnot. He's not afraid, though. He laughs in the face of danger, and continues to do so right up until two men in long white robes point a doll at him, at which point he screams and falls over. Well, gosh. Something odd must be going on. Sadly, however, it's impossible to send for the Champions, because they're all on holiday.

In one of those lovely coincidences that television thrives upon, however, Sharron just happens to have chosen this exact same piece of Cornwall to stay for a few days. Sharron is an architecture buff, and is intending to spend the weekend looking at some particularly fine examples of something that could probably only be of interest to her. To this end, she's booked a room in the very inn where last night's ill-fated poacher was warned of the dangers of going out at night, and her fellow patrons are all hot and bothered about her holiday plans to study local buildings. Sharron is determined, however. She has come to Cornwall to look at bricks, and by golly that's just what she's going to do. And, in all fairness, it might not be her plans that are worrying the locals. It might just be her wardrobe. For this adventure, Sharron has not just chosen to wear yellow. She has chosen to wear YELLOW. Extra emphasis on the "yell". Her coat should carry a government health warning. It certainly seems to have had an unfortunate effect on her, at any rate. Turning up at a local stately home, unannounced, she's told quite reasonably by the owner that she can't look around it now. She gets quite uppity with him, and eventually flounces off in a huff. How dare he refuse to allow her to wander all over his house?! This alerts her to the possibility that he is Up To No Good, and when she sees that he's recently had a new power cable installed in the house, she decides that he really must be evil. After all, nice, innocent, law-abiding people never get the wiring replaced, or tell bad-mannered intruders to get knotted. Sharron must investigate immediately.

I'm sounding a little critical, aren't I. The fact is, though, I love this episode. It's one of best that I've seen so far during this re-watch. The plot is daft, and Sharron's behaviour is inexplicable, but for some reason it all comes together beautifully. It also has some truly terrific interplay between Richard and Craig. It does have rather a weak beginning, though. Sharron's attitude towards a man who appears to be quite reasonably refusing to allow her to tramp all over his house is bizarre, and Craig gets a very lame opening scene when he foils a bank robbery by pick-pocketing the robber and stealing his gun (a robber who was driving a grey Jag mk II, incidentally). Craig makes no attempt to arrest the robber, though. He could quite easily target somewhere else another day, but all that Craig does is disarm him, and then stand on a street corner and giggle. Then, rather oddly, he and Richard nip off to the Caribbean to do their expenses. Not that I blame them, but it's still a little strange.


At a house in the depths of Cornwall, a man with a truly magnificent henchman's nose watches through a darkened window. Watches what, I have no idea. He does it with remarkable menace, though.


Meanwhile, a poacher prepares to set off on his rounds. It's Michael Bilton! Good old Michael Bilton. This is 1968, and he's old then. He was still around in the nineties, and he looked exactly the same. I don't think he was ever young.


Two men watch him as he insists that he won't be killed by evil Cornish evil. The two of them remain there for the entire episode, in exactly those poses. I'm guessing that entertainment is limited in these parts.


Two men in white robes. Their presence is never adequately explained. They're just there. They do make for a fabulously atmospheric pre-credits sequence, though.


The doll that causes the sudden fatal screaming-and-falling-over of Michael Bilton's cocky poacher.


Sharron, in a most unfortunate coat, arrives at the inn.


Whilst, miles away in the somewhat less dark and murky depths of the Caribbean, Craig and Richard attempt to fill in their expenses claims. Why they had to go all the way there to do it, I have no idea. It does lead to Richard standing on a fabulously fake balcony, whilst pretending to watch a piece of stock footage, though, and announcing "It's really swinging out there!" into the bargain. So I'm definitely not going to complain.


Back in Cornwall, Sharron tries to persuade a man to let her look over his house. And look! It's Terence Alexander! Terence Alexander is clearly a man with nerves of steel, as he's not in the slightest perturbed by Sharron's outfit.


Mind you, when you look at what his wife is wearing, perhaps that's no surprise. The hallway that she's looking down into from that staircase, by the way, is the same, all-purpose hallway that's so far managed to be in nearly every episode. It should really have its own credit in the opening titles.


Sharron's car. Nice, isn't it.

Sharron decides to ring up Jamaica and give the boys an update before she sets out on a night-time examination of her favourite new House Of Evil. Craig is immediately concerned, so the boys strike out for England. There's weirdness underway, however. When they arrive at the King's Head Inn, and ask for Sharron Macready, they're told that there's no such person there. In the room where she told the boys that she was staying, there's just a lookie-likie woman allegedly named Susan Macready. Craig is immediately ready to take the inn, and all of the people in it, apart, but Richard plays it cool. Stealing one of the books that was in the room, he examines it, and shows Craig that one of the postcards Sharron sent to them was written whilst leaning on one of the pages. Proof that Sharron was in that room - which they already knew anyway, but never mind. It's proof of something else, too. "How many postcards did Sharron send us?" asks Richard, to which Craig replies "Three." Three?! She went missing on her first night! How did she manage to write three postcards, and have them all arrive in Jamaica in the space of twenty-four hours?! Craig and Richard left Jamaica after they got her phonecall, so it's not like they were sitting around waiting for the mail. Maybe she sent them by some sort of amazing, super-sonic, superheroes' post.

The boys spend a few minutes discussing theories in the bar, but are constantly distracted by the strange vibes coming through a nearby door. When they investigate, they find poor dead Michael Bilton behind it, laid out in a coffin. There's mistletoe in the coffin as well, to ward off evil. Cue suitably wibbly music.


Craig and Richard discuss going to join Sharron in Cornwall. For some reason, this involves flirting. Sharron is meanwhile busy discovering that people in Cornwall don't like curious visitors. Getting ready for her night of investigation, she finds a voodoo doll pinned to her window frame.


Apparently the locals are trying to scare her off by making threats against Anne Robinson.


Night-time stealth!Sharron.

No, it's not really very stealthy, is it. No wonder she got caught.


Have I ever mentioned that Richard's got a very lovely Alfa Romeo? Although I have no idea how both he and Craig manage to fit in it at once. It must be like a can of sardines in there.


Susan Macready, allegedly. She's the worst ringer ever. She's barely been introduced, and she's commenting on the similarity between her name and Sharron's, and nobody's even mentioned what Sharron's name is.

There now follows an interesting display of magic at the King's Head. Richard tells Craig to get the drinks, and Craig orders their regulars – a pint for Richard, and a single malt for himself.


Now, I'm no expert on drinks, but that's a single malt?!


A second later he sits down, to hear Richard's thesis on where Sharron wrote their postcards. At this point, his drink has shrunk considerably. It still looks way too large to me to be a single, but it's now in a wine glass, instead of the beer glass that it was in earlier. Suddenly, Craig is distracted by an interesting door at the side of the room. His super-powers tell him that something strange is behind that door. He and Richard exchange a meaningful look...


... and his drink instantly grows again. That's quite some trick. And one hell of a measure of whisky. Who knew Cornish bartenders were so generous?


This one's practically a caption competition.


Don't let us stop you. Nobody's looking.

Having successfully established that things are not all as they should be, Richard decides that it's time to split up and go their separate ways. He heads off to talk to Terence Alexander, and sends Craig to have a rather enjoyable, but entirely pointless, comedy interlude with Captain Peacock at some sort of records office. Craig also goes for a wander around a local museum about witches and witchcraft. Richard learns nothing useful, and finds that the walls of Casa Terence Alexander are too thick for him to find out whether Sharron's inside. He and Craig regroup, frustrated by their lack of success, whilst Sharron is invited to a rather bizarre dinner party with her kidnappers. I do like it when a nice, polite kidnapper invites his victims to a dinner party. Nobody will ever do it with quite such glorious style as Stefano DiMera down at Maison Blanche, but it's still always good to see.


Captain Peacock. I have no idea what the point of his appearance is, but it's very nicely done.


Richard fails to make any headway with Terence Alexander, who is splendidly polite, but doesn't tell him anything at all. Consequently Richard leaves very quickly.


For some reason, Terence Alexander keeps a painting outside his front door. I thought it was more traditional to keep them inside the house, but then I suppose this is the late sixties.


Interestingly, however, it's different to the painting he had out there when Sharron visited earlier. Possibly he rotates them on a regular basis, for the sake of variety?


At the local museum of witchcraft, Craig hears all about effigies from the local white witch (who is also Mrs Terence Alexander).


Back in their room at the inn, the boys are not happy about how little progress they've made. I am, though. There's some lovely character stuff in this episode. Richard appears perfectly relaxed and laid back, cheerfully eating nuts and thinking carefully, whilst Craig is ready to race on over to Casa Terence Alexander and tear the place apart brick by brick.


Needless to say, Richard wins out. And that really is a lovely bed.


Whilst over at the house, the dinner party shuffles along in rather an uninspired fashion. Maison Blanche it ain't.

Mrs Terence Alexander, meanwhile, remains absolutely determined to clash with the wallpaper.

Craig and Richard decide that it's time to make a proper investigation, so they sneak off to the house under cover of darkness. Richard has been listening to Sharron's ramblings on the glories of architecture, and explains to Craig that, because the walls are so thick, they have to find a tie beam to transmit their thoughts to Sharron. Personally I'd have thought that, since they have to be inside the house, and consequently inside the walls, in order to find said beam, they wouldn't have to bother finding it in the first place. But again it's a lovely series of exchanges between Craig and Richard, so I'm not going to quibble. They find a nice beam, have a chat with Sharron, and then break her out of the bedroom where she's being held. There's time enough for another terrific little scene between the three of them before they leave to finish their investigations, and I really am going to have to look up who wrote this episode. Whoever it is, they've put some absolutely perfect little flourishes into the script. The main plot doesn't make an ounce of sense, but the decorations leave me not caring in the slightest.

In the cellar, Sharron finds a giant printing press, whilst outside, Richard and Craig find a lorry full of fake government papers that are clearly being readied for distribution. They outline a non-existent treaty between Britain and the United States, discussing a renewal of nuclear testing. It seems that Terence Alexander is in to uranium mining, and plans to revitalise the industry by creating a world-wide panic over the false treaty. It's a sneaky plan. What I don't understand is why it had to be hidden behind all of the witchcraft. Why were there men running around at the beginning in white robes? Why try to scare off the locals, who surely have no reason to go poking around Terence Alexander's cellar in the first place? Mrs Terence Alexander has been labouring under the misapprehension that her husband's preparations have all been for a giant witches' festival, so was the act all for her benefit? Men in white robes running around at night, bonfires burning in strange places, dead poachers decorating the local woodland, all to stop Mrs Terence Alexander from taking a look at the printing press in the cellar? Try putting a lock on the door next time, Terence. It's a lot simpler.


The boys prepare to break into the house in the middle of the night. Craig has decided that a bright yellow polo-neck sweatshirt makes good stealth attire. Sometimes I really do have to wonder about these three.


They find their tie beam, and chat to Sharron via intra-house acoustics.

Boys, I hate to disappoint you, but no way is that a tie beam. Tie beams are horizontal. That's just a rafter.


Having been rescued by the boys, Sharron goes investigating in the cellar. Interestingly, it's the same cellar that Adam Adamant had Richard locked up in a few episodes back. Do all bad guys share a house together?


As she discovers the printing press, outside in a van the boys find the counterfeit government papers.


Meanwhile, Sharron is discovered by Terence Alexander. Quite obviously he's thoroughly defeated ten seconds later, but he's Terence Alexander. I wanted to give him a nice, smiley exit.


Back at Nemesis HQ, everybody discusses how it's a job well done. Even Mr Tremayne is pleased.


He's a little premature in his congratulations, however. Craig and Richard may be attempting to look perfectly innocent...


... but have clearly been up to no good.

This is a lovely episode. It's funny in all the right places, the atmosphere is perfect at the beginning, when poor Michael Bilton meets his end, and the chemistry between the three leads – and particularly between Richard Gaunt and Stuart Damon – is used to fine effect. There are great character moments for all three leads, even if Sharron is rather peculiarly growly at the start. Mind you, there is a bit where she stamps on an effigy of Mrs Terence Alexander, which comes across as spectacularly cold-blooded. That's Sharron, though. She is cold. In short, then, it's written by somebody who clearly has a real feel for the characters. I just wish they'd written two scripts, one about witchcraft, and one about a falsified government treaty, because trying to force the two concepts together makes absolutely no sense at all.

Hey ho. Next up is "Twelve Hours", which iirc means we're back in the submarine set. Having built it, they're determined to use it as often as they possibly can. :)

Comments

( 1 fierce growl — Growl fiercely )
ell_sea_kay
Feb. 13th, 2010 07:01 pm (UTC)
I was going to copy and paste my fav bits and say how much I enjoyed X section - but in the end there were too many :)

I'll just settle for *LOVES*

:)
( 1 fierce growl — Growl fiercely )

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