Episode Twenty-Three: The Trouble With Women

Original Air-Date:
Duration: 50'49m
Screenplay by: Tony Williamson
Directed By: Cyril Frankel
Availability: Try store

Starring: Mike Pratt (Jeff Randall), Kenneth Cope (Marty Hopkirk) and Annette Andre (Jean Hopkirk).

Guest-Starring: Paul Maxwell (Alan Corder), Denise Buckley (Susan Lang), Edward Brayshaw (Paul Lang), Robert Russell (Harry), Nik Zaran (Brin), Gwen Nelson (Mrs. Halloway), Arnold Diamond (Poker player), Neal Arden (Second player), Frederick Treves (Inspector), Howard Goorney (1st Ghost), Harry Hutchinson (2nd Ghost) and Keith Grenville (P.C. Russell)

Technical Personnel: Ronald Liles (Production Supervisor), Gerald Moss (Director of Photography), Charles Bishop (Art Director), Cyril Frankel (Creative Consultant), Edwin Astley (Musical Director), Philip Aizlewood (Post Production), Clifford Robinson (Associate Art Director), Jack T. Knight (Editor), Jack Morrison (Production Manager), Jack Lowin (2nd Unit Director), Brian Elvin (2nd Unit Cameraman), Denis Porter/Len Shilton (Sound Recordists), Guy Ambler (Sound Editor), Alan Willis (Music Editor), John Owen (Casting), Sue Long (Set Dresser), Bill Greene (Construction Manager), Val Stewart (Camera Operator), Michael Meighan (Assistant Director), Elizabeth Woman (Continuity), Peter Dunlop (Production Buyer), Gerry Fletcher (Make-Up Supervisor), Jeannette Freeman (Hairdresser), Laura Nightingale (Warbrode Supervisor), A. J. Van Montagu (Scenic Artist), Frank Maher (Stunt Co-Ordinator), Cinesound (Sound Effects Suppliers), Chambers + Partners (Titles), Dennis Spooner (Creator/Executive Story Consultant) and Monty Berman (Producer). An ITC Production.

Jeff: In For The Girl Who Has Everything Jeff claims he can't afford an electric razor. As he has one in his office here we can assume that times have gone better in the interim.
Jeff Scraps: Jeff alludes to taking a punch on the chin from an angry divorce client, then later gets a punch in the stomach from a casino bouncer.

Marty: Marty claims he can sense, yet not see, auras. His presence is also detected by Susan Lang, who notes that "it's getting very cold in here" when Marty stands over her shoulder.

Jeannie: Jeannie is owed backpay by Jeff at the start of the story.

Story: Jeff is on a late-night divorce case on Sycamore Street. However, as he falls asleep in his car he is awoken by a man falling dead against his window. With the murderers driving off unseen Jeff is arrested under suspicion of murder.
The following day he is given a 100 advance to check on a blonde woman's husband... a man who regularly plays poker on Sycamore Street. Believing the shot man to have been mistaken for her husband, the woman, a Susan Lang, fears for his safety as well as him having an affair. Jeff tails her husband, Paul Lang, to a racetrack then the casino on Sycamore Street. However, Jeff's attitude makes the management suspicious so they arrange for Jeff to have a good hand at poker to test him. When Jeff folds four aces to follow Paul Lang out of the building he is stopped and roughed up by the management, who tell him that Paul Lang is the owner. Jeff is forced to return to the poker table where he loses 240.
The following day Jeff meets up with Susan Lang and tells him off his findings. Although Jeff is reluctant to carry on due to Paul Lang's gangster assocation, Susan Lang offers him more money and flirts with him to keep him on the case. As a result Jeff continues to tail Paul Lang and in the evening goes back to the casino to win back the money he owes... using Marty to help. Despite the casino management requesting that he lose another 200 in rigged games, Jeff uses Marty to help him win back the money he owes, plus a 208 profit.
Meeting with Mrs. Lang to discuss the case again, Jeff is urged to investigate Paul Lang's office. As he does so, he is captured on film breaking into Lang's safe to look for clues... while Lang is lying dead behind him. Set up by Susan Langs - who is having an affair with the casino manager - Jeff is used as a scapegoat and arrested. When Jeff demands Susan Lang turn up to answer questions, she arrives without her blonde wig, claiming not to know Jeff. Jeff doesn't recognise her with long dark hair and can't understand what's happened, though is released by the police when asking them for time to solve the case.
Jeff goes to visit Mrs. Lang at her home, but finds that the casino manager has arrived to hold him at gunpoint. Jeff is driven to a disused lime quarry in Kent where his body will get absorbed... meanwhile Marty goes for help at a seance. Getting the spiritualist leader to call the police, Marty returns to Jeff and warns him to duck a bullet... just as the police arrive to arrest the criminals and get Jeff out of the quarry.

Production Order: This was the ninth episode to be filmed.

Trivia: Annette Andre's skin is notably darker in this episode than in most of the others... as fake tan and sunbeds weren't fashionable at the time it's possible to assume she'd been on holiday before filming. This tanned skin can also be seen in Who Killed Cock Robin? and the final episode, which were filmed 6th and 7th in production order, so just before this instalment. (Though the tan isn't especially notable in It's Supposed To Be Thicker Than Water, which was filmed 8th).

"You never were much good at poker. Two aces and your face lights up."

It says something for the original series that even in a bog standard episode like this there's still bags of charm throughout. Here Jeff encounters a group of racketeers who beat him, try to set him up and drive him in cars at gunpoint. Run by Mr. Meaker from Rentaghost, they never quite convince as genuine hardmen and you'd probably be best to put this one down as The Long Mediocre Friday.

Of course, it doesn't help matters that the twist of the plot is obvious right from the first minute. Then again, the title of the episode isn't exactly there to illicit enigmatic intrigue - apparently working titles included "the woman did it in the end" and "it's the dozy mare in the really obvious wig, Jeff, are you blind or what?" This is a sour point of the episode, actually, in that it makes Jeff look screamingly thick.

One of the cheaper-looking episodes, the mixture of stock footage (particularly at the racetrack) and filmed backdrops do not always work well. Yet there's plenty of appealing warm touches, such as Marty ducking down in case the gangsters see him. Possibly the best bit of the episode is the appallingly contrived way Marty gets to save Jeff, by going to a seance. What should be corny and fail to ring true actually becomes an episode highlight as a queue of ghosts - spirits! - wait in line in a scene that is equally eerie, quirky and witty. All in all, not essential, but definitely still much to like.