Noon-Doomsday isn’t exactly bad, but it’s incredibly slack, ripping off High Noon so redundantly that Brian Clemens had every right to tear Terry Nation a new one (he promptly went away and ripped off The Maltese Falcon instead, to miraculously better results). The effect is not dissimilar to watching a New Avengers episode where, for long sections, nothing much happens while simultaneously taking itself all-too seriously.
Hyde: Do you intend to dine with him the moment he’s up and about?
Hyde: Then I predict a remarkable recovery.
In this High Noon, Steed’s laid up with a broken leg in a safe house in the middle of the country as two hit men nearby wait for an escaped rotter out for revenge – the Head of Murder International, whom Steed grabbed seven years before – to join them. None of the other residents are willing to help him, naturally, although it’s the visiting Tara who’s running about asking. Indeed, this is very much her episode, bashing Steed on the head when he tells her to remove herself and taking on the villains (Steed recovers to in time to harpoon the escape rotter Gerard Kafka – Peter Bromilow – with a projectile hidden in one of his crutches).
There are a few enjoyable incidentals along the way, not least Mother ploughing through Steed’s drinks cabinet (“I wonder if he buys it all on expenses?”) – he also receives a murderous look from Rhonda when he comments “What I like about you is your complete noiselessness. A rare quality in a woman” – and Doctor Hyde (John Glyn-Jones, 4.25: A Sense of History, who despite the name isn’t a bad guy) turning a blind eye to the bubbly Tara has smuggled in (“Oh, by the way, Steed. Save me a drop of that champagne”).
Hyde is rather unceremoniously killed and dumped down a well, after Head of Security Giles Cornwall (Lawrence James) is the first to buy it. Quite why Tara goes down to check on the body, goodness only knows. It’s no surprise inside man Doctor Carson (David Glover, 4.5: The See-Through Man) is no good, simply from the way he’s introduced.
Sir Rodney: Miss King. It may be difficult for you to understand, but my political platform has always been one of non-violent appeasement. My image is one of a dove.
We also meet Sir Rodney Woodham-Baines (Griffith Jones), a diplomat injured when someone threw a bomb at the peace talks (he fancies Tara but is having none of her pleas), and eye-patched Jules Perrier (Peter Halliday, Packer in The Invasion and Pletrac in Carnival of Monsters, as well as showing up in The Silurians, Ambassadors of Death, City of Death and Remembrance of the Daleks), who opts out of aiding Steed, even though he respects him, on the basis that “My death will in no way benefit my country. Therefore, there is no justification in putting my life at risk”.
Then there’s Lyall (Lyndon Brook, 5.8: The Hidden Tiger), a scaredy cat who bolts at the first sound of gunfire. Only Sunley (Anthony Ainley, the ’80s Master, of course), plastered in plaster offers to help, in whatever limited way he can.
The most interesting characterisation – not that it amounts to very much – is given to hit man Farrington (Ray Brooks, narrator of Mr Ben), as he speculates over what to buy his nine-year old niece for her birthday. He specialises in knife throwing, as it seems does Tara, who manages to throw his straight back, highly unconvincingly, into his chest as he stands atop the safe house roof. TP McKenna (3.22: Trojan Horse, 4.5: Death at Bargain Prices as his accomplice Grant) is entirely wasted, however, as a slightly nervy killer whom Tara manages to shoot with his own gun.
More slightly queasy Steed-Tara material in the coda, as she tells him, while they get ready to go out, that they won’t dance; instead, they can “just gaze in each other’s eyes”. Yeesh. This regular seduction technique manages to be both too overt and entirely banal. Nevertheless, the present of a plaster cast containing a TARDIS-worth of items (bubbly of course, a brooch, cigars, a sun hat, a parasol and a luminous sundial) amuses. Clemens’ rewrites to Nation include a reference to Department S, the new series Dennis Spooner was helming for ITC, but he wasn’t entirely able to salvage a ho-hum affair.