‘Unbelievable. Quite unbelievable.’ The first episode was charming in a fairly superficial sort of way, but this is just annoying. Everyone behaves like idiots. Lady Cranleigh must realise the game is up when George escapes and starts to murder half the staff, but is willing to let the Doctor be arrested for murder. The Doctor looks utterly hapless as he can’t talk himself out of the situation, sitting looking forlorn as Sir Robert reads him his rights.
For a two-part story, this is hardly crammed with incident. The middle of the episode consists of being driven to the police station, taking a detour to the train station – to find the TARDIS gone – and then finishing the drive to the police station to discover the TARDIS has been taken there. The Doctor then proves his credentials by transporting half the local police force (including Ivor ‘The Space Museum and House of Whipcord‘ Salter) round the county because he’s proved himself too witless to come up with any better ideas. George Cranleigh, meanwhile, gets the normal capture/escape plot – continually getting free, murdering someone, then getting tied up again. If the definition of madness is doing the same thing and expecting a different result, George is the sanest one in this. Luckily, he has the gumption to set the house on fire and hurl himself off the roof to provide a climax of sorts. Then the TARDIS team stay for the funeral which they apparently attend in their normal costumes (what?).
This might be the dullest and stupidest episode of the series. All the goodwill I had after Part One dissipates as Dudley’s grip on the characters slips away. JNT resurrects the historical genre only to throw it away on something half bothered and disposable. Far from playing the great detective and brilliantly solving the murders, which seems to be how the story is heading at the halfway mark and would fit with the Golden Age of Detection milieu, the Doctor shows no ingenuity whatsoever. Ann and Nyssa’s resemblance isn’t used in any imaginative way, to try to trap the killer. Poor, broken-minded George and Ann are the victims of a fairly cruel deception by Lady Cranleigh and Charles – but George is the one who pays the price, while his mother and brother seem to saunter off scot-free. The first innings wasn’t bad, but it collapses in the second.
Next episode: Earthshock