This episode features Ministry agents John Steed ( Patrick MacNee ) and Mrs. Emma Peel ( Diana Rigg ) embarking on a motor rally in order to retrieve a top-top secret paper from you-know-where that a courier hid in a treasure chest, which happens to be the prize for winning the rally. However, this top-hush document is not so secret after all, and information of its whereabouts has leaked out....not only to the enemy agents who murdered the courier, but to a third agent as well. Hence, Steed and Mrs. Peel must not only match driving skills with their competitors, but also contend with a deadly killer on the rally.
"Steed Rallies Around,
Emma Drives for Herself "Treasure rallies have been around since the late 1940s, but few movies or television shows feature this fun sport ( with the exception of Walt Disney's Diamond on Wheels ), so "Dead Man's Treasure" is an especial treat to a rally enthusiast like myself. Unlike regular rallies that have teams ( made up of a driver and navigator ) who try to reach certain checkpoints within a precise time slot, treasure rallies instead have these drivers put their puzzle-solving skills to use and solve riddles to find the location of their next checkpoint. The first team to solve their way to discovering the final destination is the winner. If you ever participated in a treasure rally you would know that it is a thrilling jaunt that takes you to locations you never knew existed in your hometown.
In Steed and Emma's case, the clues take them to some familiar and typically quaint English locations that were used in other Avengers episodes, such as the village of Aldbury ( a.k.a. Little Storping in the Swuff from "Murdersville" ) and Benstead's house ( Shenley Hall in Hertfordshire ) which also was Jordan's house in "The Bird Who Knew Too Much".
"Swingingdale.....get a move on!"
All of The Avengers episodes have such intriguing beginnings but "Dead Man's Treasure" ranks among the best with the courier, having just been shot, racing towards Steed's flat to stagger in and utter the words "red....treasure chest" just before expiring. The series had a no-blood rule ( something that should be implemented in many of today's television shows ), but for this episode they broke the rule for drama's sake. Steed and Emma manage to deduce that the "red treasure chest" the courier had mentioned must in some way be connected to the invitation to the rally, and so they attend it. Once at the rally they do not expect to have new partners assigned to them. Poor Steed is stuck with Miss Penny ( Valerie Van Ost ) who enjoys rattling on about her numerous ex-husbands, while Emma is partnered with Mike ( Norman Bowler ) an affable young man at first, who later takes dangerous measures to ensure he wins the prize. Neil McCarthy and Edwin Richfield also star as two particularly amusing villains who are bent on sabotaging their competition.It is the location settings in this episode, the spunky Mancini-esque background music, and the light-hearted way that Emma and Steed handle the race that makes this such a fun way to spend an hour, but "Dead Man's Treasure" also features some witty lines that are up to the usual Avengers-class standard. For example, when a heavy parcel arrives for Steed in the mail, Emma inquires "Lead weights for your diving boots?", to which Steed replies, "Rock cakes from my Auntie Penelope". Steed takes a glance at Miss Penny's legs while racing towards a checkpoint and, distracted, he unintentionally makes a sudden turn, quickly saying "Short skirt.....er, short cut!". High octane stuff!