Visitor Reviews
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Dial a Deadly Number
by Experience Steedophile

More tea-making: Steed and Mrs. Peel make tea together (good!). Mrs. Peel couldn't very well make the tea herself, since Steed keeps his tea in a jar marked "PEARL BARLEY." In "Too Many Christmas Trees" Steed keeps his coffee in a jar marked "WILD THYME", leading to a bad pun. So what's Steed keeping in the jar labeled "TEA"?

In the scene where Mrs. Peel visits the coffin-maker, you get to see the same coffin that she was buried in (or not) in "The Murder Market."

The temptress of record in this one is a married woman. She's part of a world where married women are considered especially attractive because they're experienced and might be willing, as opposed to all those untouchable single girls who are saving themselves for marriage. This is how we got "Mrs." Gale and "Mrs." Peel (and as times changed, we got "Miss" King.) In those days when divorces were harder to get, people put up with a certain amount of philandering, and you might have more adventures after marriage than before. Seems like a long time ago—but compare Camilla Parker Bowles! The "promiscuous" Ruth Boardman gives the episode a very old-fashioned feel, more 50's than 60's, more Cathy Gale than Emma Peel.

Note for Yanks: when people say "the City", they mean "the City of London", which is London's financial district. Saying "the City" is like saying "Wall Street."

Dial a Deadly Number
by Terri

I never get tired of watching this episode. IMHO it has one of the most well-written scripts ever to be aired on a network television program. In addition to being witty and focused, the dialogue is really intelligent. It took me months and the help of a very smart friend to get the "Bourbon on the rocks" joke. I also finally figured out what "Ladysmith relieved" means. (This sets the time of the story as February. Trivia question: How many other Avengers episodes can be placed in a specific month of the year?)

Steed is in top form here: his wandering mind and eyes as Yuill's assistant is explaining a recommended investment portfolio; his bratty questioning of Emma about her being from Barbados; his duel in the wine cellar; and his banging his watch on Fitch's workbench (and Fitch's reaction to it) are all classic, vintage Avengers. It doesn't get much better than this.

Emma also fares well. The way she spits out wine on the cellar floor is memorable to say the least. Also, when Fitch unzips her leather suit you perceive a very real sexual threat. Perhaps it's Emma's reaction to Fitch, or the dark mood of the entire scene, but it is interesting that despite the parade of diabolical masterminds in subsequent episodes, no other Emma story conveys quite the same level of vulnerability. Finally, Emma's newly emerged wine "expertise" in the back of the taxi cab lets her get even with Steed for the Barbados questions. Great tag scene.

There are a couple of problems with this episode—the motorcycle attack on Steed falls a little flat and the special effect of Fitch's bicycle pump gun going off is poor—but that's just minor quibbling with an episode this good. If it weren't that the Emma-Steed chemistry is better in "Too Many Christmas Trees," "Dial a Deadly Number" would be number one on my all-time list.

Dial a Deadly Number
by B.A. Van Lerberg

For me, the B/W Emma episodes were very hit-or-miss, especially in the second half of the season. Fortunately, even the episodes that I consider misses are good. "Dial a Deadly Number" would be one of the misses.

It's still a good episode, but I didn't find it particularly interesting to watch. There frankly isn't a reason I can pinpoint, it just didn't "catch me" the way many episodes do. There's nothing wrong with it, but also nothing great.

I do have to give points for any scene with Steed and wine, and Steed stopping one of the crooks by shooting him with a wine cork. Also note that this is one of the episodes where Steed, who doesn't use guns, uses one.

2 out of 5 bowlers.

Dial a Deadly Number
by Mike Cheyne

This episode is a little more old-fashioned than the other Emma Peel episodes, mainly because it has some real detective work, and the villains are more realistic than flashy. Overall, it is a solid episode, but has some niggling little plot points that detract from the enjoyment.

First, the plot doesn't make too much sense. If Yuill was in on the plot (and he certainly seems to be), then why is he eliminated? It seems the only point was to keep Steed on the right track. How do the villains discover Steed's true identity too soon (they already are on to him by the dinner party)? Is it merely a combination of Harvey, Yuill, and Jago sharing notes?

Second, there are some scenes that are not well done. The motorcycle attack never rings quite true (are the bad guys trying to scare Steed or kill him?). Steed entering Fitch's room just seems dumb (why doesn't Fitch shoot Steed as soon as he enters the room?), and I can't fathom how Fitch dies. I guess he is supposed to shoot himself accidentally.

Finally, there are some oddities. How does Steed plant the bleepers in all of the suspects' pockets, especially Mr. Warner, whom he has never before met? Why does Harvey, in the midst of his scheme going to pot, duck down into the wine cellar?

These problems are compensated by some terrific dialogue from writer Roger Marshall and and acting by the cast. Clifford Evans is very good as Henry Boardman, especially in the wine-tasting duel ("You still have thirty-five years left to play with!"); Peter Bowles and Anthony Newlands are competent bad guys, as is Jan Holden; but my favorites are Gerald Sim as the sharky broker (the man just looks eeeevil) and John Carson as the sinister Fitch. I agree with all the reviews—the wine-tasting duel is the best part of the episode, even if it really plays no part in the plot. Steed says it is a trap, but a trap for what? Steed is not playing the part of a wine merchant, as he was in "A Surfeit of H2O," so I suppose it's just a one-upmanship contest.

Dial a Deadly Number
by Michelle Arvin

When businessman are dropping dead, Steed and Emma are on the case. The only thing the men have in common is that they were all wearing a device which is like a beeper, and they all have the same banker.

The wine duel can definitely be considered a highlight of the whole series. Absolutely delightful! I give it 4 bowlers out of 4. Episode Rating: #3.

Dial a Deadly Number
by Matthew Moore, a.k.a. Sixofone

Plot: Excellent. Having pager-like bleeper devices used to kill people by injecting poison in their hearts makes sense. Altogether well done and fairly easy to follow.

Humour: Excellent. Who can ever forget the wine tasting duel, a classic Avengers moment. I absolutely loved Steed's swinging his watch about and then hitting it on the table. One of the best exchanges in the episode is about Steed's watch "German bullet?" "Canadian mule." which is reminiscent of an exchange in "A Sense of History" where Steed and Richard Carlyon discuss Carlyon's wound.

Direction: Excellent. Wonderful shots at the bank when Steed is about to open an account. Nice experimental shots during dinner at the Boardman's. Strange shots of fish at broker's office.

Acting: Excellent. Wonderful performances from Peter Bowles (as usual), John Carson, and Michael Trubshawe.

Tag: Excellent. A great tag!

Miscellaneous: When I first started watching The Avengers on the Mystery channel, this was the second episode I saw. This episode is what made me fall in love with The Avengers. For me this episode has some many magical moments. Watching it for the second time was just as good as the first. This may be my favorite Avengers episode ever!

Overall Rating: 10/10

Dial a Deadly Number
by Deborah Esrick, Guilderland, NY

This is one of my favorite episodes; possibly even my favorite. Granted, the financial details are a little shaky (although it’s interesting to note that it’s a put option scheme [described by the stockbroker Yuill] gone disastrously wrong that leads to the poker game in last years Bond movie, Casino Royale), the only things that really bother me are the makeup which seems to have been spackled on Diana Rigg's face when she first appears in the shipping company's board room and the Merrie Men hood she wears when visiting Warner's Answer Service.

One of the principal delights is the variety of ancillary characters who could have been rather dull and ordinary but instead have been given enough character quirks that they become quite memorable, apart from their roles in advancing the plot: The waiter with the Mad Hatter hat; the undertaker with his disquisition on matters of taste in caskets; and, of course, the entirely adorable if slightly deaf general at the wine tasting. There is also enough witty repartee to almost qualify this episode as a comedy of manners: The exchanges about Barbados between Steed and Mrs. Peel and between Mrs. Peel and John Harvey, between Steed and Ruth Boardman at Steed's flat (and can I say that I absolutely covet Steed's flat) and between Steed and Mrs. Peel at Yuill's flat—including one of my all-time favorite lines in this or any other show: "A true gentleman doesn't know of a lady's promiscuity."

This episode is a delight.

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Page last modified: 5 May 2017.

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