The Avengers (1961) s04e11 Episode Script

Man-Eater of Surrey Green

Alan? Darling? Look, it's taken.
Do you see? I think you're right.
Reared from seed.
Amnesis gloris, the first in captivity.
- It will blossom too, I promise you.
- You're a very clever girl.
Yes, of course I am.
I caught you, didn't I? Hey! You'll get me the sack.
Come on.
Don't forget my good-morning kiss.
See you later.
[High-pitched buzzing] [Emma] I didn't know you had green fingers.
[Steed] Economics, law of supply and demand.
Cut out the middle man, private enterprise.
- I'm growing my own buttonholes.
- Oh? Why? One's got to start somewhere.
Morning Sunrise, a fully-fledged bloom of delicate russet tints and a haunting bouquet, for you, Mrs Peel.
I sense a bribe.
I want you to get the first fruits of my labours.
What nasty situation have you got in store for me this time, hm? You have your own built-in early-warning system, you know.
A certain look in the eye, roses - Roses.
- Roses? Roses.
Ah! - The missing horticulturalists.
- Bull's eye.
Professors Taylor and Knight and Dr Connolly, all disappeared without a trace, right? The score now stands at four.
Another one joined the merry band yesterday.
Walked out of a greenhouse, trampled across prize plants and hasn't been seen since.
An old acquaintance of yours, Laura Burford.
Laura? I'm afraid so.
You introduced me to her once.
Fair, glamorous creature.
- An expert in plant diseases.
- Mm-hm.
One of the best.
What do you think has happened to her? It's too soon to know but the whole thing's very baffling.
Four experts, all brilliant in their own field of horticulture, just disappeared.
- Have you anything to go on? - Not much.
What there is is tenuous.
They all disappeared in this area, Surrey.
Who told you about Laura? - Carter.
- Who? I thought you knew.
She got engaged a couple of weeks ago to a chap called Alan Carter.
He's a botanist too.
- I can't believe she could go like this.
- Like what, Mr Carter? - Exactly what did happen yesterday? - Nothing.
One moment she was here, happy and excited, and the next Did you see or hear anything? No, but then I might not.
It's a bad habit, I'm afraid, but sometimes when I'm concentrating I turn the volume down.
But it was the way that she went.
Do you see? Trampled the flower beds, smashed frames of glass, destroyed months of research, almost as though almost as though it didn't matter any longer.
I've got to go.
There's a meeting of the Horticultural Circle.
I'd cancel it but the president's ill and I've got to stand in for him.
Sir Lyle Peterson? It's the first meeting he's missed for ten years.
Everything seems to be going wrong lately.
- I would be grateful if you'd - If I find anything, I'll be in touch.
Do stay in here until the rain stops.
I hadn't the heart to ask him.
- Laura and another man? - It's possible.
Anything's possible.
For instance, it might just be coincidence Sir Lyle Peterson, an eminent horticulturalist, missing first meeting in ten years and his home is situated in Surrey Green.
My name is Steed.
I have an appointment with Sir Lyle Peterson.
Yes, sir.
Come in.
- Sir Lyle will see you shortly, sir.
- Thank you.
Would you wait here? Come autumn I hope to see more of you.
That's all for the moment, gentlemen.
Further reports later.
Ah, Miss Burford.
I didn't have a chance before.
Welcome to our group.
If you want anything don't hesitate to come to me.
[Indistinct] - Mr Steed? - Sir Lyle.
- Tree Preservation Society, isn't it? - That's right.
We can talk in my office.
Do you, er drink brandy, Mr Steed? If you mean, am I accustomed to drinking brandy, the answer is yes.
If you mean, would I like one now, the answer is also yes.
- Good.
- Ha! Man differs little from plant life.
Liquid nutriment is vitally essential.
I do so agree.
- Difficult to survive without it.
- And relatively unnecessary.
[Sir Lyle chuckles] Thank you.
Your, er call interested me.
Trees are our national heritage.
Indiscriminate felling and mutilation is as criminal as an act of violence.
- We think alike, Mr Steed.
- I'm so glad.
We are pressing the government to increase compulsory planting in cities and towns.
Your name on our list of memberships would ensure success.
- You shall have it.
- Thank you.
- And this is delicious.
- I'm so glad.
You know, Mr Steed, people often regard plants like these wax figures: passive, inanimate.
- What pretty hair.
- Yes.
Real too.
Yet, see how these plants climb.
For all we know, they feel, perhaps even think.
I want to show you something.
My favourite plant, the Venus Flytrap.
Devours insects.
It's quite a gourmet, aren't you, my pet? Very partial to bluebottles but can't abide the domestic house fly.
However, I have a treat for you today, especially imported.
Now, see how you like these, hm? Yes.
Now, then you have that.
[Gasps] Now, now! Don't snap.
That's right.
One for you, my pretty.
That's right.
And you, how about these? How's that? Is it nice, hm? And you.
All right, all right.
Here it comes.
Is that good? Is that good? - That's it.
- What an interesting gadget.
Er, yes, it's, um experimental.
It controls soil temperature and water supplies.
There's no substitute for first-class equipment or brains.
You're certainly well stocked with both.
Oh, by the way, wasn't that Laura Burford I heard, and surely Dr Connolly, just leaving? Oh, dear, oh, dear, oh, dear.
The cat's out of the bag, I see.
Well, the fact is that I am engaged in some research with great commercial possibilities.
A new flowering shrub, so naturally I gathered the greatest team of experts I could find.
Perhaps I have been a trifle overcautious.
You're certainly very observant.
Well, the press has been full of them.
- You say you know Miss Burford? - I've met her.
- Then let's have her in.
- Mm.
- Lennox, send in Miss Burford.
- 'Right away, sir.
' - Oh, another? - Thank you, no.
I'd rather not sully such a perfect vintage with repetition.
[Steed] Fascinating.
Ah, Miss Burford, come in.
Come in.
I have an old friend of yours here.
You remember? John Steed, I met you with Mrs Peel.
- Oh yes, of course.
How are you? - More to the point, how are you? - I'm sorry? - I ran into your fiancé the other day.
Frantic about you, he is.
Yes, I can imagine, but it isn't often one gets an opportunity like this.
It was such an exciting project so when Sir Lyle called me I just dropped everything.
- What exactly are you doing? - What? - The project? - As I told you, we're experimenting with a new flowering shrub.
- Yes, a new flowering shrub.
- Oh? Well, I must be getting back.
[Door closes after her] So must I.
I have some fledgling forests in Cambridgeshire I must attend to.
I'll send you those membership forms.
Please do.
[High-pitched buzzing] Lennox.
Imagine sitting on that.
If my car had a roof, I'd have gone through it.
You'd have gone farther than that.
These barbs are deadly.
- I wonder what we did to upset Sir Lyle.
- Oh, I don't know.
- Finding Laura and the others - Oops, you dropped it.
[Emma] Where's it gone? [Steed] Underneath there.
I must say, that oil derrick puzzles me.
Well, whatever they're drilling for, it's not oil.
There is no oil in Surrey.
- You called the equipment company? - Yeah.
Peterson placed two orders a month ago, one for the estate - And the other one? - Ah, got it.
They're calling me back.
It was supposed to go to some farm.
- At the last minute Peterson cancelled.
- Did they say why? - No.
- [Phone rings] Do you mind? Yes, this is Mrs Peel speaking.
Would you repeat that? Yes, I've got that.
Moat Farm, Denby.
[Emma] Well - This isn't my idea of striking it rich.
- [Laughs] No wonder Peterson cancelled his order.
Oops, mind the puddle.
Well, after you.
- No, after you.
- So kind.
It's a pleasure, Mrs Peel.
- I prefer the west wing.
- Oh, this is not bad.
- What for? - A pied-à-terre.
Steed! - Looks as though there's been a fire.
- Mm, and there's something under there.
[Sirens wail] Steed, Mrs Peel.
Well, we have a clear identification.
- And? - A spaceship, launched a year ago.
- And what happened to it? - A technical failure just after launching.
Poor chap died up there alone, 5,000 miles up in the cosmos.
We tried to hush the whole thing up, of course.
Since then the ship and the body have been circling in orbit.
- What caused re-entry? - Ah, that's the question.
- Collision.
- Collision? With what? That we are about to find out.
[Steed] What on earth's that? [Wing Commander] Looks like some sort of mad octopus.
Well, what was it doing up in the cosmos? The dent it made in the spacecraft! Impact must have been enormous.
Probably weighs half a hundredweight.
Animal, vegetable or mineral? - It's vegetable.
- Vegetable? These aren't tentacles, they're pappus.
- Oh, pappae! - It's definitely vegetable.
30 years of botany and I've never seen anything like this before.
- But it is of vegetable origin? - Oh, of that there's no doubt.
Come, I'll show you.
Now then, look.
This is the seed case containing the embryo and reserves of food.
Rather damaged in collision, I'm afraid.
And these are undoubtedly pappus.
Very observant of you, my dear.
Can you hazard a guess? Which family of plant life does it belong to? Well, it's unusual.
Very unusual.
It's not tropical.
Of that I am certain.
Of course, I should want a complete analysis.
Er, just a guess, Miss Sheldon.
Well, don't hold me to it but I think it's a compositae.
Really? You know it better as a parachute seed, dispersed on the wind, like the common or garden dandelion.
Just as Miss Sheldon said, like hundreds of parachutes.
Dispersed on the wind.
Where does that little beggar come from? Mars.
- Mars? - Hm, or even the moon.
Recent photographs show whole areas of vegetation.
Does it also show some outsized dandelions? - Mr Steed? - Yes, Commander? A message has just come through from the Air Ministry, Radar Control.
They've checked and found that a meteorite was reported on the 4th of last month.
Fits in with all this.
And you think the meteorite was the spaceship re-entering? I'm sure of it.
- Well, I just thought you'd like to know.
- Thank you, Commander.
4th of last month? That's odd.
That's the day Knight, Connolly and Taylor disappeared.
Is there any connection? Whatever it is, Peterson's got it behind barbed wire.
Well, we could always cut our way through.
You chat to the locals, see what they know about him.
And you? Mr Carter? - Mr Carter? - Oh, sorry.
Terrible weather, we're having.
- I ran into your fiancée.
- Laura? Is she all right? - She's quite all right.
- But where is she? She's with Sir Lyle Peterson.
If this is some kind of joke, it's in the worst possible taste.
Oh, that's where she is.
She's working for him.
Working for him? But she loathes him.
Peterson's one of her pet hates.
Every theory he's ever had is diametrically opposed to Laura's.
She'd sooner fly to the moon.
All the same, that's where she is, with Knight, Taylor and Connolly.
- What are they doing there? - Same as her.
They're developing a flowering shrub, according to Sir Lyle.
But you can't lift or graft shrubs at this time of the year.
That's what I heard.
All the same, I should get Laura to explain it to you.
- Call her.
- She walked out on me without a word.
Surrey Green, 11 41.
Same again, John.
I'm looking for Joe Mercer, farm suppliers.
Is he here? Yes, Miss.
[Shouts] Joe, there's someone for you.
- Looking for me, lady? - Yes, my name is Mrs Peel.
I have just bought a smallholding near here.
I gather you [Louder] I gather you supply a friend of mine, Sir Lyle Peterson.
He's my best customer.
John, and a pint for the lady.
I supply him with everything: wire fencing, insecticides and this stuff.
- What's the polythene for? - Conserves heat and moisture.
Helps seedlings to germinate.
Mind you, this is all I've got left.
The same with the fertiliser.
He's had every ounce.
- Oh, thank you.
- Cheers.
- What's he growing up there? - I wouldn't know.
But I must have supplied him with 20 tons in the past month.
The last lorry-load's just gone up.
[High-pitched buzzing] Commander Davies.
Commander Davies, come here.
Come here.
Now then, take a look at that.
Go on.
No, no, focus it, focus it.
Now then, what do you see? It looks like a sponge.
A sponge? Oh, this is unbelievable.
History in the making.
What you see there are cells, brain cells.
This seed had an embryonic brain.
Oh, what a disaster that it was damaged.
Imagine! A plant that could think.
Think! [Ringing tone] There, you see? I've tried more than a dozen times.
- There's no one there.
- Maybe the phone's out of order.
No, I had it checked.
- Are you sure Peterson is there? - He was when I left.
I've been thinking about what you said, about Peterson and Laura.
It doesn't make sense.
Why should she work for him? She's got a good job - and full research facilities.
- Money.
Brains are marketable and Peterson wants the best.
But that's just my point.
Laura's clever.
She was a pupil of mine.
That's how we met.
- But she has a lot to learn.
- That wouldn't be sour grapes? If Peterson had approached me, I'd have said no.
I'm surprised he didn't.
But if I were looking for the most able botanist, I wouldn't have picked Connolly but Dr Sheldon.
And why all this secrecy? - Why didn't she discuss it with me? - Well, ask her.
- I would if I could reach her.
- I'll do my best.
[Phone rings] Excuse me.
Yes, Steed speaking, hello.
I'm not going to wait any longer.
I'm going over to Peterson's.
I'll break in if I have to.
Oh, Dr Sheldon.
Carter? Carter! Er, yes.
You what? Laura! Laura! Laura! Laura! And now, as our project is nearing completion, I should like your reports in order of priority.
Germination, Professor Taylor? Satisfactory.
Expected at 1800.
Under-soil heating, Professor Knight? The specified temperature is being maintained.
Irrigation, Dr Connolly? All channels tested and working normally.
Excellent, excellent.
And finally, pest control? All preparations on schedule, Sir Lyle.
These cells, they're identical to the human brain cells.
Yes, but the shape In my opinion, this is the seed of a climbing plant, a beanstalk.
Now then, where are we? Yes, the average bean is about half an inch long and grows to, say, four or five feet high.
Proportionately this would grow to, well, say, 200 times higher than the Empire State Building.
Charming prospect.
And think of the tendrils.
- I'd rather not.
- Reaching out for miles.
If it were allowed to seed, it would cover the earth in, well, a matter of weeks.
Well, there'd be no shortage of beans.
Ah, but this isn't the common or garden vegetable.
If it has brains, it has reflexes.
These tendrils would move, feed, protected Oh, I beg your pardon.
Now then, what puzzles me is its digestive system.
To germinate this would require tons of fertiliser, enormous heat and endless supplies of water.
Miss Sheldon, this has just arrived.
Aha! Now I shall be able to tell you something.
A report from the laboratory.
I sent some specimens up for analysis.
[Gasps] Hydrochrome oxidase.
A chemical enzyme present in the tissue.
- But enzymes are perfectly harmless.
- Yes, but essential for growth.
[Chuckles] We may think ourselves lucky that this was damaged.
- Why? - On Earth there's only one source of hydrochrome oxidase: man.
- Man? - Yes.
This was a man-eating plant.
If it had germinated it would have required us just as much as we require green vegetables.
Ah, it's lucky there's only one of them.
[High-pitched buzzing] Increase temperature five degrees.
Please indicate rate of growth.
[Knight] 300 and rising steadily.
- Where's Miss Sheldon? - Collecting the herbicide.
Well, she'd better be quick or we'll all be on the menu.
- That's only one of our problems.
- Oh? The missing horticulturalists must have been under some sort of spell.
- How's that? - Well, take Peterson.
He orders supplies, a special drill for planting at the right depth, Well, how did he know? He must have been directed.
No, those missing scientists were hand-picked by the plant.
Why not pick Alan or Miss Sheldon? They were more qualified.
Why not indeed? Now, put that on.
- Well, don't you recognise a deaf aid? - Pardon? - A deaf aid.
- Who needs a deaf aid? For breaking into the estate.
Put it on.
- But if Alan and Miss Sheldon - were immune - what do they have in common? - Ah.
Now, how does it work? Well, it's probably a transistorised circuit.
Acts as a barrier.
- [Louder] A barrier.
- Ooh.
- Yeah, well, don't lose it, will you? - Why not? The plant's only man-eating.
Temperature to maximum.
This herbicide, are you sure it will work? Oh, yes.
Nothing more effective than proprionic acid.
A teaspoonful of this would kill a large oak tree.
Let's hope the plant's no bigger by the time we arrive.
[High-pitched buzzing] Excellent.
Excellent! My friends, you've done well.
And I promise you, your services will not go unrewarded.
Your experience will prove invaluable.
And have no fear, no fear.
Protection will be afforded to you all.
when we have complete control.
[Lorry engine running] [Horn blares] Where's the driver? I'll give you three guesses.
Come on, we'll park here.
[Engine stops] Well, where is everybody? The battery must have Miss Sheldon! Oh oh oh oh! [Gasping] Oh, dear, oh, dear, oh, dear! How very extraordinary.
Well! [Scream] [Screaming] Look! Oh! Yucca gloriosa.
You should see it in the summer.
[Clatter] It's the roof! The foliage! The rate of growth is fantastic.
You can actually see it moving.
It's growing darker every second.
Peterson's office.
The controls are in there.
Oh! There's the panel.
Don't touch that.
Get away from it.
Do you hear me? Get away from it! It's taken them all, every one.
You try but you can't resist it.
- I'll get you a drink.
- Thank you.
It's covered the whole building.
In a few hours it'll seed.
Keep it in.
It will act as a barrier against the pull of the flower.
- Now, is there anything we can do? - Nothing.
- How does this work? - It's too late for that.
It's like some prehistoric monster.
The only chance is a powerful herbicide.
- We've got some.
- Miss Sheldon! - Where's the herbicide? - You had it last.
[Gasping and groaning] I'm all right.
Thank you so much.
[Screaming] Look after her.
Mrs Peel, don't you recognise me? Apparently not.
Ow! - It's all around us! - The herbicide.
Get it.
- What? - The herbicide.
Oh oh, yes.
Oh, for heaven's sake, hurry! Come on.
Do you think it'll work? Hm, Steed.
What happened to Oh, that.
I'm a herbicidal maniac.
Didn't you know? Lunch first, I think, then meander away across the Surrey downs through woodland glades just in time for tea and clotted cream with an old friend of mine.
He runs a nursery, grows all sorts of things.
Roses, daffodils, giant climbers.
- What? - They grow as tall as this.
- What are its eating habits? - Ha, ha! Strictly vegetarian.
Ho, ho! Boing!