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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Sapphire & Steel: Dr. McDee Must Die (Part 4) Sapphire & Steel
Assignment Five
"Dr. McDee Must Die" Part 4
TV episode
Writer: Don Houghton
Directed by: Shaun O'Riordan
Original air date: August 19, 1981


Two murders have been committed at the Mullrine party. Did anyone there have a proper motive?


Read the episode summary at the Sci Fi Freak Site or Watch it at Shout Factory


Notes from the Sapphire & Steel chronology


This storyline takes place largely on the evening of Saturday, June 21, 1980, then into the morning of Sunday, June 22. This corresponds to the actual dates and days of 1980.


Characters appearing or mentioned in this episode




Lord Mullrine

Emma Mullrine

Annabelle Harborough

Felicity McDee


Howard McDee ("dies" in this episode)

Felix Harborough

Tony Purnell (deceased)

Anne Shaw

Veronica Blamey (mentioned only, deceased)

Dr. George McDee

Malcolm McDee (mentioned only)

Chief Officer Higgins (mentioned only)


Didja Notice?


Steel and Sapphire exchange remarks after Purnell is found dead in the dining room: 

Steel: "Purnell was in love with Ann Shaw, Mullrine's secretary."

Sapphire: "Not in love...he was using her."
Steel: "There's a difference?"
Sapphire: "On this planet, yes."

Have Sapphire and Steel been on other planets with life?


At 5:43 on the DVD, the corpse of Tony Purnell blinks as he lays atop the dining room table!


At 8:32 on the DVD, Emma and Felicity are singing "Ten Green Bottles", a popular children's repetitive song in the UK. The more well-known version in the U.S. is "99 Bottles of Beer".


Sapphire reads the carving knife from the Mullrine kitchen as having been made in Sheffield in 1924.


At 10:10 on the DVD, notice that Steel holds the McDee revolver below the level of the tabletop where we (and Sapphire) can't see it and makes a couple of awkward arm movements. We see minutes later that he has removed the bullets from the gun, explaining his unusual actions here.


When the possessed Sapphire pulls the trigger of the revolver on Steel, notice that the cylinder does not move! The cylinder should have advanced one chamber, even with no bullets loaded in it.


When Steel drops the bullets from his hand onto the tabletop, notice there are only five, not six, from the revolver's chamber. This is because, of course, one bullet had already been fired at Tony Purnell.


At 13:41 on the DVD, Felicity is seen perusing a well-worn issue of Britannia, a women's magazine. It is, in fact, the debut issue of September 1928 (which featured an essay by Benito Mussolini!). A later issue was seen in "Dr. McDee Must Die" Part 1.


When Howard gives his grandmama (Felicity) a drink she says "thank you" while referring to him as Malcolm. Malcolm was indicated to be the name of Howard's father (George's son) in "Dr. McDee Must Die" Part 2. The "time drift" that has occurred in the mansion seems to have infected Felicity to the point where she thinks Howard is Malcolm.


At 15:34 on the DVD, it's implied that Sapphire and Steel have begun kissing each other while continuing their telepathic conversation about the strange events in the mansion. The camera pans up over their heads at this point so we don't see the actual kiss, if they did indeed kiss.


As the party sits down to dinner, Emma remarks, "We must eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow--Oh, what am I saying?" She was starting to use the standard, "Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die," but stops herself from finishing it, considering two murders have already occurred this night. The phrase is a combination of two Bible quotes, "Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry," (Ecclesiastes 8:15) and "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die," (1 Corinthians 15:32b).


At 20:34 on the DVD, Lord Mullrine tells an anecdote at his wife's expense, mentioning a song called "The Road to Mandalay". He is referring to "On the Road to Mandalay", a 1907 song by Oley Speaks that uses text from the 1890 poem "Mandalay" by Rudyard Kipling.  


    At 21:18 on the DVD, the Univac computer screen in Miss Shaw's office displays portions of a Gazette news article from 1930. The visible portions read:
  "Gazette Exclusive also quoted Reuters 23/6/30. File by RL/26/6/30."

"The residence occupied by well known business man Arthur Mullrine and formerly known as Apsley House was last night the scene of a two alarm fire that seriously destroyed part of the West Wing. It also..."

"Chief Officer Higgins who supervised the fire fight activities told our reporter that it was one of the worst fires he had attended in the district in recent years."

"The deceased, whose body was found in the ashes, was believed to be the celebrated physicist George McDee, who readers will recall caused such a stir last month with his paper to the Kopoloski Society on coherent..."

"Interviewed by our reporter, a desolate Arthur Mullrine praised the local brigade for their prompt response. But in spite of their gallant efforts, the laboratory where Doctor McDee was known to work late into the..."
   Gazette probably refers to the London Gazette, an official journal of the British government since 1665. Reuters is an international news agency headquartered in London.
   The news article refers to George McDee as a celebrated physicist, but the episodes of this story present him working on a biological/genetic experiment. A researcher into many fields, I guess!

   It seems odd that the news report refers to Lord Mullrine's residence as being formerly known as Apsley House, as that is the name of the London townhouse of the Dukes of Wellington, now officially known as the Wellington Museum since 1947. Perhaps in the Sapphire & Steel universe, Apsley House came under the ownership somehow of Lord Mullrine or one of his ancestors and has remained in his family up to 1980!

   The Kopoloski Society appears to be a fictitious group.


Steel is flummoxed when he fails the ritual of passing the port clockwise around the table and Sapphire has to explain it to him. In the UK, it is tradition to pass the port to the port (to the left).


Memorable Dialog


in love.mp3

this gets crazier by the minute.mp3

don't be rude.mp3

too fond of shooting things.mp3

he's a bit dead.mp3


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