Episode Twenty-Four: Vendetta For a Dead Man

Original Air-Date:
Duration: 50'52m
Screenplay by: Donald James
Directed By: Cyril Frankel
Availability: Try store

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

Guest-Starring: George Sewell (Jansen), Barrie Ingham (Emil Cavallo-Smith), Ann Castle (Mrs. Cavallo-Smith), Timothy West (Sam Grimes) Richard Owens (Police Sgt. Bodyguard), William Dysart (Police Inspector), Henry Davies (Police Sgt. in car), Ron Pember (Fairground Concessionaire), Colin Rix (Police Driver) and Sue Vaughan (Blonde girl in car)

Technical Personnel: Ronald Liles (Production Supervisor), Frank Watts (Director of Photography), Charles Bishop (Art Director), Cyril Frankel (Creative Consultant), Edwin Astley (Musical Director), Philip Aizlewood (Post Production), John Ireland (Editor), Malcolm Christopher (Production Manager), Jack Lowin (2nd Unit Director), Gerald Moss (2nd Unit Cameraman), Denis Porter/Bill Rowe (Sound Recordists), Alan Killick (Music Editor), John Owen (Casting), Sue Long (Set Dresser), Bill Greene (Construction Manager), Val Stewart (Camera Operator), Ken Baker (Assistant Director), Sally Ball (Continuity), Peter Dunlop (Production Buyer), Elizabeth Romanoff (Make-Up), Jeannette Freeman (Hairdresser), Laura Nightingale (Costume 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: Jeff starts the episode in the arms of a girl. Unfortunately for Jeff she's got a "possessive Uncle."
Jeff Scraps: Jeff is twice tossed around his flat by Jansen and later knocked cold by him. However, a final meeting sees Jeff wrestle a knife from him, as well as KOing a milkman and getting the better of Sam Grimes in a competitive fight.

Marty: Marty can break mirrors with his powers.

Jeannie: Jeannie once took a temporary Christmas job in an Oxford Street store where she met Emil, long before she knew Marty. Also a possible contradiction of Jeannie's family background occurs when Marty corrects Jeff saying she has an Aunt in Sussex... Marty tells him "Essex". As Money To Burn told us that Jeannie did have an Aunt in Sussex, the best conclusion we can come to is that Marty preferred Jeannie to say with another Aunt instead.

Story: Just under a year earlier an Eric Jansen was sentenced to eight years imprisonment for attempted murder. He escapes from the psychiatric wing of H.M. Prison Castleton intent on getting revenge on the man that put him there... Marty Hopkirk. When he confronts Jeff and discovers that Marty has since died he decides to take his revenge out on his widow, Jeannie.
When Jeff goes to Jeannie's flat to make sure she's okay he finds her talking about getting remarried, much to Marty's dismay. The following day Jeannie and her potential new husband, Emil Cavallo-Smith, go to the funfair and slip Jeannie's police guard. Unfortunately for Jeannie she is confronted by Jansen in the hall of mirrors and only manages to escape thanks to Marty smashing mirrors. Jansen flees in the confusion and seeks out an old friend, Sam Grimes, to enlist his help.
Grimes tracks down Jeannie's boyfriend, where he discovers that Emil is an adulterer who is already married. Jeff confronts Grimes in his office after having witnessed him at the scene, and, after a long fight, gets out of Grimes that Jansen is aiming to get to Jeannie through Emil.
Jeff visits Emil's wife to find out where he could be located, and is given the address of a cold storage factory. There Emil has been forced - via a meathook held to his throat - to call Jeannie and get her to go there. When Jeff arrives he is knocked unconscious by Jansen who kidnaps Jeannie in her own car. Jeff finds Emil locked in the freezer but he won't talk as he doesn't want it to ruin his reputation. At Marty's suggestion Jeff places him back into the freezer so that Marty can interrogate him when he temporarily dies. As he does so, he is told that Jansen was taking Jeannie to a beach clifftop.
Jeff confronts Jansen, finding him offering Jeannie the chance to die or jump... the offer that Marty had given Jansen a year earlier (except instead of death, Jansen had the option of jail). Jeff takes Jansen's knife off him and asks him to go back to prison. Jansen says he'd rather die this time, but as Jeff pleads with him not to jump Jansen losing his footing and falls to his death.

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

Trivia: Vendetta For A Dead Man contains the longest pre-credits teaser of the series, running to a mammoth 5'12m.

28'12m in contains arguably the least convincing stunt double in the entire series... a not inconsiderable feat. And, while the picture quality on BluRay is a massive step up, such matters become only more obvious in HD...

"Well one good thing came out of it."
"You were up with the milk this morning."

When Charlie Higson first started talking about updating the series for a new generation he remarked on how the original didn't fulfil its potential by using so many generic plots. To be honest, I disagree: having one of the leads as a ghost is already the quirk for the show, by placing him in fantastical, surrealistic plots you're giving the audience no sense of reality to hang onto.

That said, the plot for Vendetta For a Dead Man (nice title, mind) is more than a little bog standard. An old nemesis of Marty's comes to track him down, and then goes after his widow to settle the score. With George Sewell and Timothy West in the line-up then this is possibly the episode with the most high-profile guest cast in modern terms, but the plot is slim at best.

It's not without some appeal, and certainly I was entertained all the way through. But the painfully thin plot, OTT music, contrived exposition and sadistic motivations - Jeff nearly kills a man just so Marty can interrogate him as a ghost - don't amount to a great deal. The abrupt, codaless ending increases the feeling that this was an instalment about not very much at all.