Starcat and Scary Cat review Sapphire & Steel: Assignment Five
There are a lot of mannys in this story, and even more when Sapphire and Steel arive and they count as two each because they are pretending to be Miles & Virginia Cavendish. Starcat and Scary Cat thought that there are too many mannys for only two cats to keep track of, so got Gamma Longcat and Big Gay Longcat in to help them.
Starcat and Scary Cat and Gamma Longcat and Big Gay Longcat have been assigned.
Assignment Five is a blend of an Agatha Christie murder-mystery story with the Sapphire & Steel we know, as Sapphire and Steel attend a dinner party in 1980 but set in 1930 until the two periods are blended by Time. Sapphire uses telepathy as a great shortpaw way of letting us know about the several guest characters quickly, to allow the first episode to really get going.
After a pointless, crowbarred-in cliffhanger to end part one, the second episode is a little slower with not much happening to further the plot except for the arrival to the scene of George McDee, who has been dead for 50 years. The mannys accept this twist, as did we cats, but to Sapphire and Steel it is a sign that something is wrong with Time because he is not supposed to be here.
Part three is a bit of mess, with too many confusing instances of characters suffering from convenient laser guided amnesia so the guest characters don't know what is going on from one scene to the next and keep the mystery element going. There are good bits in the episode, and it does blend the two genres of period murder-mystery and sci-fi well - Steel takes charge as a detective (Poirot-style), and then later Sapphire and Steel confront McDee about genetics in 1930, a scene that fits Sapphire & Steel perfectly, but you would be unlikely to see in anything else.
The blending of the genres is a real strength of the story, and gets better in the second half. We all liked the bit when Felix Harborough (one of the guest characters) becomes "Brass" to work with Sapphire and Steel. After much cat discussion, we have agreed that our Sapphire & Steel names would be Hydrogen, Scariness, Length and Handsomeness. What would yours be?
While there are lots of new characters, David McCallum and Joanna Lumley remain the heart of the show, on good form throughout and looking like they enjoy the costumes and the 1930s setting in general.
There are many great directorial touches throughout, such as the moment when Steel teleports and we see it from his point of view, with the background fading out and in instead of him disappearing.
Scary Cat felt let down by the lack of scary moments in this story. There is one bit in the last episode where McDee reveals his sore chest, but it is over too quickly to be scary. It is as though it was a substandard visual effect that they were trying not to linger on so as to disguise it.
We were all agreed that, on the whole, this was a very good story with a clever concept that works well in the Sapphire & Steel universe.