It’s interesting to note that had this story been broadcast in production order, it would have been the last time anyone saw Dr David Keel on screen – made 26th, it wasn’t expected to be the final episode of that first season, but a strike crippled production and by the time it was sorted out, Ian Hendry was off to pastures new, leaving Patrick Macnee with new partners (and in a couple of cases, a medical doctor who was Keel with the serial numbers filed off!). It is therefore apt that it’s the story that most foreshadows the sort of tale that The Avengers would become best known for during its Emma Peel years – a blend of spy story and science fiction that can only work if everyone takes it absolutely seriously, which director Ken Bentley ensures they do in this new version.
You really really do not want to think too much about the science in this story: John Dorney’s adaptation unfortunately, in this respect, has to stick to Eric Paice’s original, so we get some very intriguing ideas about the properties of radiation and suspended animation. Concentrate on the very believable background to the nonsensical shenanigans – the way in which the docks were run, for example.
Anthony Howell’s David Keel is more centre stage in this story than in some, used (and possibly even abused) by Steed to serve his purposes. It’s good to see the character more relaxed – his reaction to Steed’s attractive female business contact shows that he’s moved on after the death of his fiancée in the opening instalment – and I’m pleased that we’ve still got a further 10 episodes to enjoy the byplay between him and Julian Wadham’s Steed.
Verdict: An enjoyable conclusion to this box set. 8/10