A Surfeit of H2O
One of my favorite episodes, and the episode from which the plot was stolen for that awful movie. Unfortunately, the similar plots only serve to point out why the original Avengers were so much better than the movie. Obviously money doesn't equal quality.
The main reason I love this episode is for the eccentric characters: Eli Barker and his leaking house, Jonah Barnard and his unfinished ark... Plus, a lot of the imagery is wonderful, especially the scene of Mrs. Peel taking tea with an umbrella.
An extra half bowler for the fun final fight scene with everyone trying not to drown, and Jonah getting in everyone's way.
4 out of 5 bowlers.
A Surfeit of H2O
This is a wonderful story about science, morality, religion and the excesses to which people go in the name of each.
Dr. Sturm is a scientist in the purest, most dispassionate, sense. To him, science is not merely a means to an end, but rather it is the end itself—his own personal religion that he practices to excess. His wine press, designed to "pulp but not bruise," is the embodiment of a lust for precision far in excess of any rational need for it. Similarly, his rain-making machine, invented to water his garden, is a monument to unbridled scientific zeal. Although Emma calls Sturm a "diabolical mastermind," he really isn't because there is no ultimate, manic purpose to his actions. In fact, he only realizes the lucrative potential of his rain making machine after he teams up with the evil Martin Smythe. He formulates chemical processes to distill vegetable wine, but without a thought to the poor souls it will lead down the path to temptation. He gets little pleasure out of torturing Emma, other than the smug gratification of knowing how well his press performs the task. In short, Sturm does not care what fruit sprouts from the scientific seeds he sows, he only cares about the science. In the end, Sturm is killed by his own creation—an end everyone sees coming except Sturm himself, who is as myopic in his pursuits as poor Sir Arnold Kelly. Apparently, science, without vision, is deadly.
Eli Barker, on the other hand, is a moralist, an adherent to his own peculiar religion wherein "poaching isn't really like stealing" but alcohol is the devil's spawn. In his fervor to save sinners from the demon rum, he enters the pit of iniquity and drowns—a martyr to his own beliefs.
Jonah Barnard is a religious zealot who pursues his beliefs as single-mindedly as Sturm pursues science, seeking converts amidst the unbelievers. When Jonah finally confronts the soulless science that he sees as man's downfall, he does so with a heavy hand. His joy in vanquishing his foes is seen in his unnecessary, brutal clubbing of the subdued and helpless Smythe. By his actions Jonah adopts religion's traditional response to science, destroying it without mercy or reflection. Yet in so doing, Jonah surely destroys himself because there will be no more torrential rain, no more ark, and no more converts.
Against this serious backdrop, Steed and Emma play for comic relief. Under the serene gaze of Grannie Gregson and her obscene cucumber, Steed's portrayal of a wine merchant is delightful. The dialogue between Steed and Joyce Jason is almost musical in its flow and balance. Emma spends the episode changing clothes—she displays no less than six different outfits, ranging from the very tasteful business suit she wears to meet Eli to the ludicrous vinyl jumper and "shower cap" she dons to invade the wine factory. Finally, the story concludes with Steed departing with a bottle of wine (sin) in one hand and a ticket to Jonah's ark (salvation) in the other. In so doing, Steed exhibits the balance that so eluded Sturm, Eli and Jonah.
A Surfeit of H2O
Plot: Good. Making rain is plausible. And I could see using rain as a military weapon.
Humour: Excellent. "He decided to sip a surreptitious sup and slipped. Splash!" I loved Steed's comments about the catalogue being insufficient.
Direction: Excellent. I tip my bowler to Sidney Hayers for the amazing filming in very heavy rain.
Acting: Very Good. Wonderful performances from Noel Purcel, Talfryn Thomas, and John Kidd. It was nice to see Geoffrey Palmer again.
Music: Very Good. Same old music, but it works so nicely here.
Tag: Very Good. It was nice to see a Minimoke in this episode, for they were also used as the village taxis in The Prisoner.
Miscellaneous: Emma's great line "You diabolical mastermind, you!" almost sums up what is The Avengers. The raincap that Emma wears is quite strange—it looked like a bull's-eye. Not much to say about this episode other than watch it because it is one of the best!
Overall Rating: 9/10
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