A husband-and-wife detective team are employed to protect a business tycoon from an assassin’s bullet in the Thriller episode, K Is For Killing.
TITLE: Thriller – K Is For Killing
BROADCAST: 2 March 1974
STARRING: Gayle Hunnicutt, Stephen Rea, Christopher Cazenove, Peter Dyneley, Jean Kent, Derek Francis
WRITER: Brian Clemens & Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: Peter Moffatt
An attempt is made on the life of wealthy David Garrick (Dyneley). His son, going by the prosaic moniker of Sunny (Cazenove), enlists the husband-and-wife team of Suzy & Arden Buckley (Hunnicutt and Rea respectively) to investigate.
Garrick Senior is clearly not a man without enemies. The Buckleys consider the estranged Mrs. Garrick (Kent) as a possible suspect, but the real would-be assassin may be someone with a clearer vested interest in the tycoon’s demise.
There’s really not much more to this instalment of Thriller, a disappointing outing which disrupts the flow of an otherwise superb second series. It feels more like an exercise in trying out the leads in their roles, a very elaborate screen test which wastes the time of both performers and viewers.
Like series one’s An Echo Of Theresa, which introduced Dinsdale Landen as investigator Matthew Earp, K Is For Killing acts as a pilot of sorts, this time for the Buckley detective duo. Earp would at least make enough of an impression to get a second chance, but the same could not be said of the Buckleys.
The combination of Clemens and Nation as writers is an intriguing one, but the script can’t make up its mind whether it wants to tell a credible mystery story or just send itself up mercilessly. Ultimately, it falls between two stalls, a misjudged mix of oil and water.
Regretfully, the same can be said of Hunnicutt and Rea: Both usually dependable performers, there just isn’t that chemistry between them, the kind that could convince the viewer that they are husband and wife. Their attempts to wring some comedy out of the whole shebang are laboured at best, and it might have been better to cast them as irritable siblings, since that’s how they mostly come across.
The only performer to emerge with any real credit is Jean Kent, as the cast-aside Mrs. Garrick, given to mood swings between childlike fragility and violent episodes. It’s a great pity the performance couldn’t have been deployed in a better episode.
The case at hand feels like it would be better handled by Department S (1969-70). Indeed, with its somewhat obvious denouement, it may well have fared better if Nation had submitted it in his clutch of episodes for that show.
K Is For Killing is not without interest as a curio, but is not likely to feature in most viewers’ second run through the series. Still, considering Thriller’s extraordinarily high standard, it could perhaps be forgiven the odd misstep.
TRIVIA NOTES: Retitled as Color Him Dead for the US TV Movie version. At least the cheap-as-chips alternative title sequence couldn’t make things any worse.
Peter Dyneley’s best-known role would be off-screen, providing the voice of Jeff Tracy for Thunderbirds (1965-66).
Gayle Hunnicutt had just completed work on The Legend Of Hell House (1973), when she appeared in K Is For Killing. She would work for Brian Clemens again in her final TV role to date, an episode of CI5: The New Professionals in 1999.
Stephen Rea would later make several memorable horror film appearances, including The Company Of Wolves (1984), Interview With The Vampire (1994) and Werewolf: The Beast Among Us (2012).
This synopsis contains basic errors in the mistaken identities of key members of the cast and their characters, making the plot impossible to follow…
The murder attempt is in fact against wealthy Garrick senior (Peter Dynely) and not Shelby Grafton (Francis), who appears in the preceding opening scene and turns out to be the middleman of the apparent assassination affair. Therefore the estranged wife and initial suspect is Mrs Garrick and not Buckley, nor indeed Grafton…
Leaving that aside the insights and overview of this episode and it’s place in the series are fascinating !
My apologies for the confusion, Chris. I could blame a looming deadline or something along those lines, but in all honesty this was unforgiveably sloppy of me. I’ve no idea what I was thinking, and I have now amended the piece accordingly. Many thanks for bringing this to my attention.
A bizarre episode given the quality of other Thriller episodes. I hadn’t seen it until I bought the box set, but found it a strange mix. I would need to watch it again to find out exactly why I disliked it so much, but since I’ve given up masochism that is highly unlikely.