Sapphire & Steel #30: Doctor McDee Must Die Part 6

"I never cared for history, George."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Aug.26 1981.

IN THIS ONE... George McDee comes close to being murdered several times, but Emma wants to save his life this time. See title.

REVIEW: The only murder mystery that ever mattered was George McDee's, and not so the malefactors can be punished, but rather so Sapphire and Steel can make sure it happens. That's pretty dark. And it seems Dr. McDee's a particularly murderable chap. Everyone has a motive for killing him (not just our heroes), whether it's the jealousy of a woman spurned (and he has two in his life) or the greed of a businessman. For a moment, I even thought it might be the butler after all (or rather, the butler's father), acting out of loyalty to his employer. Even McDee's viral cultures are trying to kill him - he's already been infected and HE'S patient zero already. After surviving two murder attempts (gun and knife) and one accidental death (when Emma tries to shoot her rival, Mrs. McDee), the latter due to the Enemy's intervention, he simply cannot avoid his ultimate fate as a plague victim. So the honor we peeped in him previously comes to the fore again and he willingly sacrifices himself to save history. It's a neat time travel story, where a woman's deep regret is used to make her agree to a deal with the Devil (or whatever the Enemy is, the elementals call it Time). Emma's second chance was a lie, in the mold of the Faust story.

Part of the appeal is seeing seniors acting like frivolous young things, all impulse and no wisdom, though neither Emma nor Felicity were ever sympathetic characters. In fact, though we might have lost ourselves to a red herring or two, Emma was always the obvious choice for the Enemy's chief pawn. More of a whydunit than a whodunit, you might say. Speaking of red herrings, it's good to see the Enemy did base some of the "murders" on events from that night - the knife, the gun, the cultures - but it's rather too bad they couldn't all be (the poison and the electrified door have no analog that I could see). But then, this was never a very tight script.

A good ending with a murder that can but simply mustn't be prevented, subverting TV's standard tropes.

- It starts off slow, with unsympathetic characters and a lot of misleads, but evolves into an unusual mystery with occasional (and very welcome) moments of humor.


Anonymous said...

Humor - yeah, the other moment I was thinking of is while Sapphire is playing bridge and Steel is urgently trying to contact her telepathically but can't. Have they lost their powers somehow? It seems very ominous, because we're on our fifth S&S story and everything is ominous - but no, she's ignoring him because she's trying to win the game!

Siskoid said...

Yes, it made me think Sapphire had been absorbed into the Enemy's scenario as well.


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