Dixon of Dock Green Episode Review: Molenzicht

Continuing our series reviewing the surviving episodes of Dixon of Dock Green as they air on Talking Pictures TV, this week we look at the 1972 episode entitled Molenzicht.

Originally broadcast on New Year’s Day 1972, Molenzicht was not included on any DVD releases. It is a rare treat then to see it broadcast.

The Story…

The episode opens with the characteristic monologue from George Dixon (Jack Warner). He introduces us to the idea that seemingly isolated incidents often have far-reaching consequences and connections. An injured man is pulled from the river, narrowly saved from drowning. As he is taken away by the ambulance crew, he murmurs one word to the Police Sergeant in attendance: Molenzicht.

Following the titles, we find DS Crawford (Peter Byrne) and DC Lauderdale (Geoffrey Adams) in an airport. A man is waiting for them: he introduces himself as a Dutch Policeman, Henk Pietersen (Maxim Hamel). Andy and Laudie have come to the Netherlands to look into this one word uttered by the drowning man. Henk tells them that Molenzicht is a cafe. When they go there, the English son-in-law of the proprietor, Richard Bennett, denies any knowledge of the man in the photograph. Meanwhile, Laudie is liaising between the local head of Police and Dock Green.

Word comes from England that the drowning man has died, so now Andy and Laudie are looking for his murderer. Determined that Bennett has something to do with the death, Andy and Henk find out that he has been smuggling stolen jewels. It turns out that he is not as sinister as he first seemed. He has only been working for the gang of jewel thieves to make enough money to make a fresh start with his wife away from her domineering father.

Back in Dock Green, Dixon is on the trail of a contact Bennet claims to have had on board the ship he travelled on. The shipping clerk tells him that there were no passengers with the name given by Bennett, but he may have been a member of the crew.

Andy explains to Bennett that he would be better off volunteering to return to England, rather than waiting to be extradited. Bennett reluctantly agrees to cooperate with them to clear his name of the murder. On board the ship, the Seven Seas, they find out that a below-deck crew member matches the name and description of the man they were looking for: Freeman.

By a small subterfuge, Freeman comes to the cabin where Andy and Laudie are holding Bennett. During an exchange between them, he is overheard confessing to the murder. A previously concealed Andy appears, followed by Laudie. Freeman pulls a knife and is efficiently disarmed during a tense scene by Andy and Laudie.

Dixon comes up for his closing monologue. He informs us the outcome of the case, and bids us his friendly farewell.

A few notes…

A note here on the newer title sequence which I haven’t touched on in previous weeks’ reviews. The camera zooms in for a close shot on the Metropolitan Police cap badge while the theme music and titles run. In this era of the show, it feels quite American. This is an interesting development, for a programme which is considered to be so British. And to extend this viewpoint to the execution of the episode, there are some elements which do perhaps mirror some of the Police procedural and crime shows that made their way here from the US at the time. We now do not see any of the home life of the Police characters. Very seldom do we even set foot inside the station.

The pacing is much more similar to American cop shows. However, the team behind Dixon managed to achieve this without giving way to overblown music cues and overly dramatic pauses. These things make US cop shows of the era pop, but somewhat overwhelmingly at times. It is extraordinary how well-balanced Dixon remains.

Some of the cheeky, lightly sarcastic humour has worked its way back into the dialogue, which I am very much in favour of. It will never beat the quips of Sergeant Flint (Arthur Rigby), stood at his desk presiding over events at Dock Green Police Station. But there is such a great dynamic between Andy and Laudie. Usually this extends to Sergeant Dixon as well. But we don’t see them interact at all during this episode, as George is back in London doing the leg work there while Andy and Laudie chase things up in Holland.

The Scenery…

It is a real treat to see the team in a different location. It feels exotic, with many windmills and canal scenes. Dixon going on location to a different country is something we have seen before. This feels as impressive, though in a different way, to The Hot Seat in which the Dixon family take what ends up as a busman’s holiday in Paris. This episode was in the middle of a series, which is surprising from a budgeting point of view. We have often seen more expensive episodes as series-closers. However, perhaps this was a kind of seasonal special, since it was first aired on New Year’s Day.

Frank Mills and Other Actors

I must commend the casting team in general on Dixon of Dock Green. They always managed to find the perfect actors for every role. Pulling from a really fertile pond of performers who hopped from show to show in this era. Every actor brings an understated realism to their part. Maurice Roƫves brings a naivete and world-weariness to what could have been a one-dimensional character. And I must give a mention to Frank Mills, who appeared in Dixon no less than 6 times over the years as different characters. Only two of his appearances exist, Molenzicht and an episode aired two weeks ago on Talking Pictures TV, Waste Land. Mills was always sublime in every role, even small ones such as this. Maxim Hamel and Trudy Libosan are also excellent here.

In Conclusion…

Molenzicht is another great episode of Dixon of Dock Green. I cannot overstate how enjoyable I find these glimpses into a programme so well-considered in its own era that it ran for 21 years and over 400 episodes. It remains a constant regret as the credits roll on each episode that more do not survive. Again next week we skip ahead, to 1973, so I eagerly await any little (or large) changes that may have come about in that time.

In case you missed it, you can catch up on Molenzicht on Talking Pictures TV Encore until 27th April 2024. Dixon of Dock Green airs every Saturday evening at 7 pm on Talking Pictures TV.

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