13th April (IMDb) or 14th October (epguides.com)
12th May 1972 (a few days after sorting out the empty plane affair)
An estate agent is taking a client to see a disused factory. They enter the rather run down building and instead of finding an empty space simply bursting with possibilities they discover a huge wooden structure. They walk round it for a bit and eventually find a rather smart looking door.
Opening the door they find a luxury apartment, fully furnished and decorated with all sorts of fancy objects d’art. They also find the main room is barred and inside is a gibbering wreck of a man.
And a dead woman.
We open at a glamorous reception so Miss Hurst has suitably impressive hair for the occasion. For the rest of the episode she settles on the Tara King. She and Stewart are very tactile during what is supposed to be a professional conference. Less mutual is the molesting she gets from the crazy boy. Still, it’s worth it because he calls her "Selina" which proves to be the first important clue in the case. Annabelle would solve that particular bit of solution herself as she browses a glossy magazine (as women are prone to do) and finds a photograph of the aforementioned.
In the final reel, she’s on location and her double has to run on her behalf. It isn’t pretty – it is exactly what you’d expect from a man running in heels for the first time.
Jason is also at the party – no sooner has Stewart asked Sir Curtis for Jason than the man himself walks down the stairs with a beautiful girl on his arm. Stewart tries to ask him about the case but is brushed off with a knowing "In the morning, Stewart, in the morning." It is rather out of place that Stewart should be asking Sir Curtis for permission to "use King" – he hasn’t done so before and it feels far too first-episodey for episode six.
Stratford Johns – famous for Z Cars, Softly Softly and the time he put on a frog costume at the BBC and pretended to like Matthew Waterhouse. He plays wealthy businessman Paul Trenton. He’s got some big deal bubbling under and is not happy with the delays he’s experiencing. He's quite inept - at one point locking Stewart and Jason in a room with a working telephone so not only could they call the office and get rescued, they could call the office, get rescued and have the police do over the house while rescuing them.
His wife, Selina, is played by Toby Robins (a girl with a boys name – how groovy) and not Jacqueline Pearce despite the painting suggesting otherwise. She's not much brighter than her husband as she locks Annabelle in a room which is simply teeming with weapons. It doesn't take our computer boffin heroine long to realise that a sturdy set of fire irons will soon put paid to a door that has seen better days.
She’s no relation of Michael "Richard Mace" Robbins of On the Buses fame. He plays Paul Trenton’s hard man sidekick.
Clive Colin Bowler, who plays the crazy boy, had a pretty promising career until he entered that elegant room. According to the IMDb he never appeared on screen again after it. Maybe the bullets were real.
The wall of the elegant room has a painting on it. This painting, a vital clue which would ultimately allow Department S to solve the case, appears to be of Servalan in the nude.
Annabelle wears a red mini-dress which is a gift for anyone interested in random knicker shots.
Jason has a favourite oyster bar. He included it in a novel and has received free oysters ever since. He pulls an art expert (a young pretty one naturally) and she gives him vital information in exchange for agreeing to go out for dinner with him. It’s not really an exchange but he seemed satisfied. He breaks into the artist’s flat using a plastic card (welcome to the age before the credit card) but it proves a painful break in. The artist smacks him with a poker and is told "You may have just broken my arm". Any excuse to wear a black silk sling for the rest of the episode.
Jason tries to tell a story from "Index Finger Left Hand" but Annie and Stew keep talking over him. Eventually he takes the hint. The art expert who Jason pulls kept mentioning how she was sure she recognised him. Hilariously, when Jason leaves, she picks up the book she’s reading and it is "Index Finger Left Hand" with its photograph of Jason King on the cover.
He gives us his best tuxedo acting at the fancy reception. He settles back into real life with a grey suit (brown shirt, brown tie) and reaches the pinnacle of wardrobe with a brown suit, beige tie and brown (knitted~!) tie. He also carries a very small pen knife which proves useful as pen knives are wont to do.
Paul Trenton is a narcotics dealer. He gets his stuff by placing money in a Swiss bank account which is then collected by his associates and they in turn send a man over with the drugs. This man is met at the airport and taken, blindfolded, to Trenton’s house where the deal is concluded.
Trenton’s wife, wanting two million dollars all of her very own, arranges for a duplicate of their apartment to be built. She then intercepts the arrangements for the courier’s arrival and takes the blindfolded man to the fake apartment.
Rather frustratingly, aside from a reference to the man found in the elegant room having been sent there to plant a bomb, there is no further explanation. We never find out (a) why he’s gone mad, (b) who the girl is, (c) why she’s there, (d) who killed her, (e) if the man killed her, why did he do it? or (f) what the point of the crazy man and the dead girl being in the episode at all was.
A clever episode with a brilliant pre-titles sequence but which leaves too much unexplained. What's there is very good but we are left feeling a little let down. The Trentons' frequent acts of stupidity are annoying. So is the fact that Department S track down the bad guys but it is left to Selina to explain the plot. No one comes out of this with much credit. 4/5 for what is explained, 2/5 for what isn't.