Based on a Canadian play from the late 1950s, this is one of the lesser known episodes of the original series of The Avengers – it was broadcast live, and then only to a handful of the ITV regions (the separate parts of ITV didn’t have to show the same programmes at the same time, or even the same episodes). Once you know that the parts played by Steed and Keel were only given to one character in the original play, the lack of the former in this story makes far more sense – and indeed, the fact that it wasn’t designed as an Avengers story at all initially explains why there is far more attention given to the guest characters than to the lead(s).
John Dorney hasn’t corrected some of the faults of the original script – there’s a whole plotline set up in the opening acts which just goes nowhere – but his deft hand has ensured that we’re always clear what’s going on in sections that were either film inserts or without dialogue. The “Slav” accents are adopted by the immigrants for all their scenes whether they’re speaking in their own language or English which might be a bit odd naturalistically but makes sense dramatically.
It’s a race against time with parties at cross purposes for much of the story; perhaps if you were starting the story from scratch you’d cut back some of the Slavs’ sections, but as a recreation of a recreation (!), this works well.
Verdict: A tense battle against the clock. 7/10