Temporal investigators Sapphire and Steel encounter an evil
shape-shifting entity that has broken through Time using photographs...
contrast to the lighting-effect "villains" of Assignments
I to III, the Shape (played by both Philip Bird
and Bob Hornery) makes a big impression here as the time detectives'
first tangible adversary. Frequently appearing as a man without
a face, he is truly the stuff of childhood nightmares.
on from two six-parters and an eight-parter, Assignment
IV, comprising just four episodes, is noticeably swifter
in pace. Episodes Two to Four really race along.
assignment also addresses the question of why Sapphire (Joanna
Lumley) and Steel (David McCallum) always seem to arrive after
a Time-break has occurred - never before, when they might
have been able to prevent the damage instead of merely repairing
it. Perhaps some fans wrote to creator P J Hammond posing
that very question!
in vision, due to low light levels in the studio, is particularly
bad during this serial. However, looking back at my old VHS
copy, I see that this is how the original programme looked.
A dinner party to celebrate a business's golden anniversary
goes disastrously wrong when Time begins to roll back the
years for real...
presence of guest writers - former Doctor Who scribes
Don Houghton and Anthony Read - in place of the usual P J
Hammond, is noticeable during Assignment V. A pastiche
of Agatha Christie-style murder mysteries in general, and
Ten Little Indians in particular, this whimsical tale
involves the time detectives to a lesser extent than it does
the large cast of eccentric guest characters.
not a bad thing, though, since this adventure is packed with
intriguing plot developments. The lack of story padding is
evidenced by the relatively short length of the recaps at
the beginning of each episode (in other serials, these can
last for up to three minutes).
A particularly memorable character in this story is the bluff
Felix (Jeffry Wickham), who is briefly "recruited" by Sapphire
and Steel, and nicknamed Brass.
Steel and Silver tackle their most perplexing case yet, when
they arrive at a petrol station that seems to be frozen in
by Sapphire & Steel standards, Assignment VI
is seriously weird stuff! The first three episodes don't make
a great deal of sense, but then they aren't supposed to, and
they still make compulsively unnerving viewing.
Collings, who made an impact in Assignment III as the
charming rogue Silver, puts in a very welcome return appearance
here. Meanwhile, Christopher Fairbank is truly chilling as
Johnny Jack ("with his children on his back"), a sinister
travelling performer who has rag dolls attached to his coat.
when I was a boy of 11, when this story was transmitted, I
didn't realise that Episode Four was the final one of the
serial, never mind the conclusion to the entire series. So
try and imagine my surprise as you reach the end of this fateful
extra features are nothing much to write home about. There
are transcripts of the original - and sometimes amusingly
inaccurate - ITC press releases. There are also screen biographies
for several of the guest cast. And there are a couple of picture
galleries, although these don't include any shots from Assignments
IV or V.
But who cares when you have such excellent adventures as these
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