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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When Dr John Wadkin attacks his wife one would have thought it was a
job for the police rather than Steed and Mrs Peel; but he was one of a
number of scientists who had gone missing over the last year or two.
They can't get much out of him although it would appear he was held
captive in China and he repeats the number 621; before they can learn
more Wadkin is kidnapped. Steed goes to the Chessman Hotel in London
with another scientist and he too disappears; what is more he was in
room 621! It turns out the other missing scientists stayed there as
well. Steed explains his presence to the hotel management by claiming
to be famous food writer Mr Gourmet and he gets Mrs Peel in by
arranging for her to become a receptionist. It isn't long before she
learns the secret of Room 621; it is just a pity she ends up locked in
what appears to be a Chinese prison cell. Steed will have to uncover
the secret of the Chessman Hotel if he is to save her.
This episode started well; the missing scientists provided a nice mystery and the way they were caught and later held captive was rather good. On the other hand the villain was a bit too eccentric; especially how he had others sample fine food for him because his doctor had put him on an extremely strict diet and how he'd put so many chess boards all over the hotel. His motivation wasn't the best either but at least it wasn't too wacky. There were fun moments of course; I particularly liked Mrs Peel's reaction to the suggestion she should go undercover as a receptionist. Overall I found this to be a weaker episode but still not without its charms.
"Room Without a View" begins with the sudden reappearance of physicist Dr. John Wadkin (Peter Madden, "One for the Mortuary," "Pandora"), surprising his wife Anna (an unbilled Jeanne Roland, from Hammer's "The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb") in her own home, but barely a shadow of his former self. He's just one of seven scientists that have gone missing over the previous two years, with the one common thread linking them all being that each checked in and out of the Chessman Hotel, and were never seen again. Peter Jeffrey, later seen in both "The Joker" and "Game," plays Varnals, who deduces by Wadkin's negative reaction to his wife's Chinese heritage that he was held captive in a Manchurian prison camp. Paul Whitsun-Jones, previously seen in "Man with Two Shadows" and "The Wringer" (and later appearing in "Fog"), plays the dieting hotel owner, Max Chessman, whose thin blood requires him to live in higher temperatures, and Vernon Dobtcheff, later seen in "The Living Dead" and "Thingumajig," plays a Russian spy. Acting honors go to two veteran villains from episodes past, Philip Latham (from "The White Dwarf") as the sinister hotel manager, led to believe that Steed is an accomplished gourmet, and Peter Arne (from "Death on the Slipway," "Warlock," and "The Golden Eggs"), whose suspicions about a certain hotel room are well founded. A captive Mrs. Peel is interrogated by a Manchurian guard (an unbilled Anthony Chinn) who laments that no woman has ever been held prisoner, outlining the contours of her body with lascivious intent. The best moment comes when Steed assures Varnals that he's already checked Emma for "deadly weapons!"
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