The GLG Reports
Page 35 of 67

A Funny Thing Happened
By Grant L. Goggans

"Did you vote for him?" The most intriguing element of this hour is, of all things, the set design. From the rail cars to the admiral's office to the twin stations of Norborough and, get this name, Chase Halt, this installment looks totally unlike any other episode of the show. Even in the design-heavy fifth season, this says a lot. It's got a good number of wacky eccentrics and villains, like the rail-obsessed coward Crewe and nasties who are never named but stay disguised as a ticket collector and a bride and groom. There's good location filming, a suitably odd plot, but it all fails to totally gel. Whether it's Steed's disappearance and absence for a third of the episode or the uncharacteristic railway-heavy storyline, something throws this story off and it stands out as being very unlike any other episode. The pacing is very odd, with the siege-like efforts to gain entrance to the dining car and the crockery fight both getting long-winded. The final fight, amid a car full of steam, is daringly directed as a lot of close-ups looming towards the camera in the smoke. It's one of the most jarringly Batman-esque moments in this season and it doesn't really work. Bonus points to everything for being so different, but I'm not convinced it was successful. It's certainly funny though, with lots of canny one-liners and an entire cast enjoying themselves hugely. There's even a secret knock ("shave and a haircut, two bits"), emphasizing just how un-serious this particular story is. An awfully similar plot later featured in an episode of Gerry Anderson's The Secret Service.

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