Saturday, July 14, 2012

Naive Avengersthon - 138. Bizarre

Not really the big finish I was looking for - from the title I was hoping for a real Fall Out style psychedelic freakout. There is however one similarity to that final episode of The Prisoner...

The teaser shows us a girl wandering barefoot across a snowy field before collapsing. We later learn that she was thrown out of a train - I must say she doesn't show any signs of rough handling. Shown a photo of recently deceased Jonathan Jupp (John 'Number Two in A Change of Mind' Sharp making his third appearance), she remembers his shocking emergence from a coffin in the guard's van to attack her.

Investigating duties are split three ways, with one Captain Cordell taking on some of the work while Steed drives comedy funeral director Bagpipes Happychap (! - Roy Kinnear in his fourth appearance) to distraction by repeatedly forcing him to have coffins dug up, starting with Jupp's, which proves to be empty. The physical similarity of Sharp and Kinnear is quite a good red herring at this point.

Cordell and Steed discover that the missing corpses are actually alive and well, and being attended to by ladies in a sort of Star Trek-style underground paradise. Menacingly camp travel agent Shaw (George Innes, who has the unusual distinction of having appeared in The Bill, Hill Street Blues and Cagney & Lacey) is running the getaway scheme, and fake fakir Fulton 'Dr Quinn' Mackay (third appearance; here bearing a disturbing resemblance to Kenneth Williams' Khasi of Khalabar) provides the simulated death-like state necessary for the deception.

Unfortunately, Cordell and Steed have to take the trip underground themselves in order learn this; Cordell doesn't make it out alive, but with Tara's help Steed does, and a big fight later they're able to handcuff and lead out of the grave in a long line all the villains and fugitives, to the final dismay of Mr Happychap.

One thing that is truly bizarre about this episode is the closing gag, which sees Steed and Tara accidentally blasted into space in the former's kit-built rocket. 'Mother' is taken aback by this turn of events, but thoughtfully addresses the camera to assure us that they'll be back.

Also seen: Michael Balfour, who's the very English-looking cowboy killed by the Kid in Living In Harmony.

Previously seen: Sally Nesbitt from The Joker.

Naive Avengersthon - 137. Take-over

Now this is a good one, a real thriller with lots of tension. The teaser shows us Fenton Greville (Tom 'Vorshak' Adams) and his henchman killing a man apparently by remote control. ( suggests that the victim is played by Michael Craze).

Steed's set for a country weekend with his friend Bill Bassett (Michael 'Lord Melbury' Gwynn) and his wife, and invites Tara to join them if she has time: but before he arrives, the Bassetts have unexpected guests in the shape of Greville and his associates, including the lovely Circe. Crazy name, crazy girl as we soon find out. The Bassetts and their butler (John 'Sid' Comer) are subjected to surgery at Circe's hands which leaves them susceptible to Greville's remote killing device.

Steed innocently arrives in this awkward situation, and although his friends have been ordered on pain of death not to tell him what's going on, he soon susses out that something's wrong. This is one of Steed's best episodes - he's outnumbered by three dangerous men and one insane woman, and constantly has to improvise plans, especially when they try to kill him during a shooting expedition. He escapes but is injured: luckily Tara duly turns up at this point to give him a breathing space, and with one final ingenious move by Steed the villains are overpowered, and prevented from carrying out the long-range assassination for which, we're told, the Bassett's house made an ideal base.

Greville is one of the best villains in the show so far. He's cultured, well-mannered and utterly sadistic, clearly getting a big kick out of dominating Bassett. He also can't bear to lose, which causes him to make some foolish decisions in his battle of wits with Steed. The way in which he and his friends bluff their way into the house and take it over is just great.

His associates aren't bad either, particularly Garfield 'Haskins' Morgan. The bit where he insults the Bassetts for having stale coffee underlines his unpleasantness better than any amount of violence would. Circe is quite frightening - there have been a number of mad young women in the show, but none of the others had scalpels and anaesthetic.

I got really involved in this - at the point where Tara and Mrs Bassett first get the drop on Greville, I found myself yelling 'Go on, shoot him!'

Probably the best episode of anything Terry Nation ever wrote.

Naive Avengersthon - 136. Requiem

Now this is more like it. Steed leaves for a secret location to protect vital witness Miranda (Angela 'Carry On' Douglas) - and Tara is captured by the villains (including Denis Shaw, who's the shopkeeper in The Prisoner) and plunged into another drugged nightmare. When she escapes, she's caught in an explosion at Steed's flat and comes to to see 'Mother''s body being carried away on a stretcher.

She's taken to hospital by Dr Wells (the Bill Clinton-like John 'Agrippa/Dr Spencer Quist' Paul) and Major Firth (John Cairney). Firth is frantic to discover Steed's location because, he tells Tara, a miniature bomb has been placed in Steed's gold pencil, which could detonate at any moment.

Tara recalls that Steed once spoke to her about the secret location, and the poor girl has to do all she can to remember the location. Firth and Wells take her to 'Mother''s funeral and Steed's bombed-out flat in an effort to help her recall.

But she gradually realises that things aren't all that they seem, and that Firth may want to know Steed's whereabouts for quite a different reason. The cracks in the facade are subtly conveyed, particularly by Cairney and Paul, who are very plausible but somehow don't seem quite right. And there's one scene where Shaw and his confederate pass through the shot - our attention isn't drawn to them but their presence there shows us that something is up.

There's also some excellent false tension in Steed and Miranda's scenes. She's comically beating him at a variety of strategy games while we, if we've fallen for the deception, are tensely waiting for the booby-trapped pencil to explode.

Tara escapes and saves the day, helped by 'Mother' cleverly setting up a false secret location for the villains to find from Tara's memory clues.

A great episode - it's not only exciting, we really feel for poor Tara who's quite devastated by the funeral and her apparent injuries. And the deception is excellently done.

Previously and also seen: John 'Ralph in The Visitation' Baker from You Have Just Been Murdered.

Previously seen: Harvey Ashby in his third appearance.

Naive Avengersthon - 135. Homicide And Old Lace

'So it's come to this, an Avengers clip show.' What a shame that Malcolm Hulke and Terrance Dicks should return to write such a half-arsed episode.

There's some initial excitement when two old ladies appear to be preparing to assassinate 'Mother' - and Rhonda gets to do a two-handed lightning pistol draw - but we're not here for action, these are his aunts and this is a framing device for a story about how Steed and Tara took on Intercrime, who appear to have expanded considerably since the story of the same name.

What enjoyment there is is in the tricks with form, and self-references to running out of plot and 'the big fight'. There's a good freeze frame and resume at one point when the aunts interrupt the story.

The reuse of clips from other stories isn't very satisfying, that always just feels like they can't be bothered.

Note how the fake phone call from the Prime Minister's office turns up again in Hulke's Green Death.

Donald 'Beyus' Pickering from The Winged Avenger as Cartwright. His face would fit more in one of the older BW stories, he seems out of place in this.

Tara wears a fantastic pair of boots in this story, they're probably the best ones seen in the show.

Rhonda nearly gets to speak in the closing gag, but sadly we're disappointed.

I suppose I liked the idea that the government has fake versions of all Britain's art treasures in storage, so that if the originals are removed for safety in wartime, public morale will be kept up. But I feel like this episode is a fake version of an Avengers story. Not one I shall remember with pleasure. It's no Girl Who Was Death.

Previously and also seen: Bryan 'Alf Roberts' Mosley from The Gravediggers.

Also seen: Edward 'War Chief' Brayshaw, Kristopher 'Fu Peng' Kum, Stephen 'Petrov in The War Games' Hubay, Gertan 'Ola/King Pengvin/Washy time!' Klauber, Kevork 'Rudkin in Wheel In Space' Malikyan.

Previously seen: Mary Merrall from The Girl From Auntie, Gerald Harper in his third appearance, Ann[e] Rutter from Super Secret Cypher Snatch.

Naive Avengersthon - 134. Thingumajig

Lurking death in the tunnels - this must be a Terry Nation script. Quite a suspenseful one too, with archaeologists being zapped to death in a cave system under a church, and mysterious tracks being left behind. Steed and companion of the week Inge (Dora Reisser, who I kept hoping was Caroline John doing an accent) excellently find a crashed van in a quarry; inside is an open crate marked Extreme Danger with two now empty compartments.

So far so good, and we're pretty uneasy about what the threat (both threats) might actually be. But when we do see them, they're just small oblong black boxes, whirring painfully as they lurch across the floor. This is such a let-down that we can't really care much about Iain 'Garron' Cuthbertson's plot to distribute thousands of the boxes and drain the whole country's electricity supply.

Tara has some rubbish comedy scenes with Willoughby Goddard (all the way from The Frighteners), and has to deal with the second box which Steed has, perhaps rather irresponsibly, sent to her house. Some tension does creep into this scene, but I'm still wondering what they were thinking with the box design.

A disappointing episode. The buildup is good, but it writes cheques the reveal can't cash.

Previously and also seen: Edward 'Prof Kettlewell' Burnham returning from The Fear Merchants. Vernon 'Chief Scientist' Dobtcheff in his third appearance. John 'Doc Morrissey' Horsley as the doctor, returning from Mr Teddy Bear where he also played a doctor.

Previously seen: Jeremy 'sitcoms' Lloyd returning From Venus With Love, Hugh Manning in his third appearance, Russell Waters from Castle DeAth, John Moore from The Hidden Tiger and Harry Shacklock in his third appearance.

Naive Avengersthon - 133. Pandora

A really creepy, Sapphire-and-Steel-esque episode. Tara's turn to have her head messed about with, as she apparently wakes up in 1915 to find Rupert (Julian Glover in his fourth appearance) insisting that her name is Pandora, and that she has to marry 'Gregory'.

Rupert is superbly unpleasant. There's a very effective scene where he keeps telling his accomplice 'You're raising your voice'. It doesn't look like a threat when written out, but the way he says it, it gives the impression of massive suppressed violence. As does the way he slices a block of cheese during another scene.

Notice the Mrs Gale and Mrs Peel files in the cabinet. Also the authentic George V stamp and wavy line cancels on the envelope Tara finds on the doormat.

Tara's red car gets burnt out, but we see it again in at least one later episode.

The 'Pandora' seen in the teaser is supposed to be a stuffed dummy, but I took it to be a woman with a bandaged face, so I kept expecting her to turn up in the attic or a locked room, and was disappointed when she didn't.

The reveal at the end is fantastic, one of the best in the show so far. And of course the viewer feels satisfied that Rupert has brought about his own downfall.

Previously and also seen: John Laurie in his fourth appearance, Reginald 'Smithers in Planet of Giants' Barratt, Geoffrey 'radio comedy' Whitehead returning from Trojan Horse.

Previously seen: Peter Madden from Room Without A View.

Naive Avengersthon - 132. Who Was That Man I Saw You With?

There's a clever pair of parallel 'suspicion' plots in this one - Tara is tasked with breaching the defences of the War Room as a test of security, and at the same time the elegant Dangerfield (Alan 'Temmosus' Wheatley) is setting up a web of circumstantial evidence to make her look like a traitor.

The second plot, however, requires 'Mother' and Steed to be uncharacteristically obtuse. Tara has to demonstrate the framing technique on Steed himself before he'll believe her.

Steed's exclamation of 'What a lovely suit!' before he starts beating up Dangerfield in the finale is predictable, but very enjoyable nonetheless.

Previously and also seen: Aimee 'Dona Arana' Delamain from November Five. Ralph 'Balaton in The Pirate Planet' Michael

Also seen: William 'Mailer' Marlowe.

Previously seen: Alan Browning returning from Intercrime, Alan Macnaught[ao]n from Town Of No Return, Richard Owens from The £50,000 Breakfast.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Naive Avengersthon - 131. Fog

Very underwhelming this. The central idea is OK - that one member of a club of pseudo-Ripper obsessives is murdering foreign dignitaries who threaten his interests - but there are two major annoying things about this episode.

Firstly, although the historical murderer that the club admire flourished in 1888, and had the Ripper's M.O., he's actually called the Gaslight Ghoul, possibly because the real Ripper targeted prostitutes and that idea (a) isn't US-friendly and (b) doesn't suit the type of killing that's being done in the main action.

Secondly, although the story obviously takes place in London in 1968, its heart is in Victorian London and so all the visual trappings are from that era. I suppose that might be considered clever by a more sophisticated viewer, but I thought it was contrived. For example, a lot of the action centres around a firm that runs hansom cabs (presumably for novelty purposes), Tara is in a Victorianesque costume and all the 'exterior' shots are shrouded in Victorian fog. Steed actually explains this, when he's welcoming the comedy foreigners, as a typical feature of London; when he and the viewer know quite well that pea-soupers had been rendered a thing of the past by the Clean Air Act in 1956.

One thing I did like though was the presence of Patsy 'All my puff' Smart as the housekeeper. That seemed appropriate to the setting.

Previously and also seen: Paul 'The Marshal' Whitsun-Jones, who I completely missed, in his fourth appearance.

Previously seen: Nigel Green and John Garrie from The Winged Avenger, Arnold Diamond from Who's Who?, Frank Sieman from Six Hands Across A Table, Norman Chappell (fourth appearance), William Lyon Brown from Death's Door.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Naive Avengersthon - 130. Stay Tuned

A very unsettling episode. The opening has an interesting similarity to Arrival with Steed just about to go on holiday when he's knocked out. We're then immediately shown him about to go on holiday once more; I thought I had a dodgy DVD at this point because all his actions are repeated. And that isn't the last time it happens either.

Not only has he lost his memory but he begins to behave strangely, trying to kill himself and Tara at one point. I don't think it helps that he chooses to consult a highly sinister-looking psychiatrist about his amnesia. The one thing he can remember is the image of a Chinese weightlifter, and he thinks he's achieved a breakthrough when - shadowed by a man who we can see but he can't - he locates a house with a doorknocker in just such a shape. What a moment when the door is opened by Kreer, played by Roger Delgado. Oh Steed, things could have been so much worse.

Delgado is, intriguingly, playing an evil hypnotist here. You could read this ep as a missing Master adventure. Unfortunately he's killed off before we can see much of him. What a waste. Luckily, as well as the invisible man his other confederate is Kate 'Rani' O'Mara.

They're conditioning Steed to assassinate 'Mother'; he is, however, able to break free of their conditioning before punching the invisible man and going off for a proper holiday. Hurray!

Great stuff this, both the psychological unpleasantness and the fascination of the repeated holiday departure scenes.

Also seen: Duncan 'Galloway' Lamont, Denise Buckley from Dance of the Dead.

Previously seen: Iris Russell and Howard Marion-Crawford, both making their third appearance.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Naive Avengersthon - 129. Take Me To Your Leader

A really good episode this with a fascinating central concept, a case that's programmed with verbal instructions to enable it to be passed along a sequence of enemy couriers. On this particular run, Steed and Tara's mission is to insert themselves into the chain and eliminate each successive courier, in order to find who's at the end of thes list.

Excellently, each courier also has a key with which to make the case issue its instructions: so our heroes can't eliminate them and seize the case back until that's happened. For each exchange they have to improvise tactics, and quickly.

One of the exchanges takes place at a ballet class for girls, forcing Steed to try and bribe the young contact with lollipops (she holds out for £25 instead). Penelope Keith very funny as the long-suffering teacher. I wonder if it's her or a stuntwoman in the balletic fight that ensues with Tara?

The plot forks into two in the closing act, with the introduction of a deadly decoy case. Tara's escape from the crypt is quite ingenious. Then there's just time to double-bluff the viewer about who the man at the end of the chain really is.

My only regret with this story is that there did seem to be a couple of cheats, in which the case's program seemed to be responding to events rather than strictly issuing the next instruction. It's supposed to have a tape player in it, not a radio receiver. I'd love to have the job of programming such a case and ensuring that the speeches fitted the planned locations of the couriers.

This is one of my favourites so far. It's ingeniously put together and it rattles along excitingly. I particularly liked the way that the scene in the teaser makes perfect sense in retrospect, when Steed and Tara reach the same stage in the chain that we saw there.

Previously and also seen: Michael 'Mace' Robbins from Mr Teddy Bear, Michael 'General Williams' Hawkins from The Golden Fleece.

Also seen: Patrick 'Hobson/Gamling' Barr, Henry 'Anton in Enemy of the World' Stamper

Previously seen: Raymond Adamson making his third appearance, John Ronane returning from Murdersville.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Naive Avengersthon - 128. Love All

This episode features Martha, probably the most unalluring femme fatale ever seen on screen. She's like Maureen Lipman playing George Orwell's charlady. But we soon find that there's a solid reason for her hypnotic appeal to civil servants who know government secrets.

The plot requires Steed and 'Mother' to be very obtuse in realising what's going on, so that Tara can confound them with her intuition. Once Steed's on the trail, there's an over-long scene at Casanova Ink, romantic publishers; Patsy 'Carry On' Rowland's explanation about how the books are generated by a computer programmed by their in-house genius Bromfield (Terence 'Lord Ravensworth' Alexander in his third appearance) is amusing enough, but the story's marking time here.

Once it gets going again, Steed soon discovers the hypnosis mechanism and deploys it against the Casanova plotters. Interesting that they don't chicken out of having Bromfield affected by it too, but as this is the 60s it merely causes him to think that Steed is a terribly decent chap. This bit is rather sweet actually.

Not a bad episode, the comedy is acceptable and we do feel rather sorry for Martha's victims. But ultimately not a very exciting episode either.

Also seen: Frank 'Ortron' Gatliff, Peter 'Cyril' Stephens, David 'Ralpachan' Baron and Larry Taylor, who's the Mexican lynchmob leader in Living In Harmony and also, so they say, the Burpa in the 'name of a good dentist' gag in Khyber.

Previously seen: Brian Oulton returning from The Charmers.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Naive Avengersthon - 127. The Morning After

Steed and Tara are knocked out by nerve gas capsules while attempting to capture Jimmy Merlin (Peter 'Leader Clent' Barkworth in his third appearance). Merlin succumbs to the gas too, and next day all three find themselves in an apparently deserted world. A strong Triffids vibe here, and an even stronger Invasion of the Dinosaurs one when Steed and Merlin face summary execution as looters.

Several escapes and recaptures from and by Brian 'Yrcanos' Blessed (returning from The Superlative Seven) later, we find exactly what Brigadier Joss Ackland's motive is for ensuring that he has the town all to himself for a day. Luckily Merlin shows some honour among thieves and saves the day.

An intriguing episode, but - as in some of the other ones with very interesting conceits - once the real threat is revealed, it's disposed of very quickly. Very little Tara in this, she spends most of the time asleep.

Reminded me a bit of The Hour That Never Was, in the way that the silent scenes take up such a long time, making the action seem all the more brutal once it starts.

Also seen: Donald 'Vural in The Sontaran Experiment, yunnerstan' Douglas.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Naive Avengersthon - 126. The Interrogators

A very good episode, where we spend less time on the hunt for the villains and much more on being intrigued as to what they're up to. The interrogations interspersed with tea breaks and friendly chat are completely intriguing.

My only complaint is that I'd liked to have known who Colonel Mannering (Christopher Lee returning from Never, Never Say Die) is and how he came to know about 'Mother' and contrive his ingenious plan to use Mother's organisation's own secrecy against it.

Previously and also seen: Neil 'Thawn' McCarthy (third appearance). Philip 'Ganatus' Bond, Glynn 'Dave in Minder' Edwards, Neil 'Sam Seeley' Wilson (third appearance). The non-speaking Chinese bloke is supposedly Vincent Wong (Ho in Talons).

Previously seen: David Sumner from Death on the Rocks, Cardew Robinson from The £50,000 Breakfast.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Naive Avengersthon - 125. The Rotters

I like the super-fast dry rot gimmick in this, but it's not much of a story. The rot gun is simply used to corner and kill off previous associates of its inventor, who fortuitously all place themselves in positions where the destruction of wooden objects terminally affects their safety.

However there's a great sinister duo (Jerome 'Dr Stevens' Willis in his third appearance, Gerald Sim in his fourth) with their faux 60s working man outfits and laconic posh chat.

Back on the negative side, there's a stupid fight between Tara and unpleasant henchman Sandford. She runs girlishly off into the woods rather than driving away in her car, and he clumsily attacks her with a woodsman's axe, which predictably gets stuck in a tree and rendered useless.

And there's a very silly conclusion where Charles 'Songsten' Morgan reveals his ridiculous plan to hold the world to ransom with fake pillarboxes which spray an even more effective wood-rotting fungus.

Previously and also seen: John 'Rev Ernest Matthews' Nettleton returning from The See-Through Man. Harold 'Gilbert M' Innocent from The Medicine Men.

Also seen: Amy 'his sister Dolly' Dalby.

Previously seen: Toni Gilpin from Death on the Rocks, John Stone (third appearance), Noel Davis from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Station, John Murray Scott from November Five. And Garry Marsh who may or may not be the Brigadier from Look (etc).

Friday, July 06, 2012

Naive Avengersthon - 124. Killer

Agents are being lured to a factory, then efficiently killed and dumped. It's completely obvious what's going on and exactly who 'Remak' is, the fun is in the way the exact details are explained. And the principal villains are great: William Franklyn from Silent Dust in a vicious check jacket, and Grant Taylor as a hefty businessman. There's a wonderful scene in the pub that they use in the operation where they calmly take tea as their latest victim is taken away. 'Sandwich?' asks Taylor politely.

Harry 'McDermott in Terror of the Autons' Towb does the agent-luring for them; very appropriately because not only is the factory a plastics factory, but there's a coach-load of plastic dummies involved in the story too. (Though I couldn't work out exactly what the purpose of this was).

There are also various similarities in the Remak scenes to the City sequence in Death to the Daleks - particularly in the way that some of the agents survive the first attack only to perish in the second, and only our hero is clever enough to get all the way through.

One thing is still puzzling me though, why did Grant Taylor spend all that cash on an elaborate killing mechanism? They could just have lured people to the factory and shot them, then dumped the corpses in the same way, and it would have been a lot cheaper. Wouldn't make such a good story of course.

Very little Tara in this, and agent Lady Diana Forbes-Blakeney takes over as companion of the week. I was hoping she was Caroline Blakiston again, but it wasn't her.

Previously and also seen: John 'Edward Waterfield' Bailey in his third appearance, James 'Security Chief' Bree from Immortal Clay, Anthony 'Baron von Gruner' Valentine from The Bird Who Knew Too Much.

Also seen: Michael 'Moberley in Seeds of Doom' McStay.

Previously seen: Jonathan Elsom from The See-Through Man.

Naive Avengersthon - 123. Wish You Were Here

In Prisoner territory here with a hotel who offer a special service: the indefinite detention of inconvenient people. They'd have gotten away with it too if they hadn't branched out into murdering them too. It's largely played for laughs - the means of detention are inventive but polite and non-fatal, and the permanent guests have the best food and wine. But it still recalls the superficially civilised atmosphere of the Village and the suggestion of a corresponding threat somewhere below the surface.

Helping convey this threat is Derek 'Greg Sutton' Newark in his third appearance. This is an actor who can give a distinct air of menace just by eating breakfast.

Steed's scenes are largely confined to a brainstorming session with 'Mother' where, surrounded by cardboard cutouts of various agents, they're trying to work out which one is a traitor. 'Mother''s nephew Basil - can't work out who this is but he seems familiar - is despatched to assist Tara at the hotel. I love the disdain Patrick Newell puts into his 'dear boy' line here.

Basil isn't a lot of help, but fortunately Tara is more than capable of devising a plan. Wonderful scene where she and her confederates barricade themselves in the hotel kitchen, then calmly proceed to cook and serve themselves a gourmet meal while the staff attempt to break down the door. A bit like the 'dinner party under fire' scene in Khyber.

Previously and also seen: David 'Solicitor Grey' Garth in his third appearance. Dudley 'Maurice Caven' Foster in his third appearance

Also seen: Louise 'Gia Kelly' Pajo - I see she ended up in Pris btw. John Cazabon, who I think is the man with the umbrella who Number Six disconcerts in an unconvincing studio 'exterior' scene in Once Upon A Time

Previously seen: Liam Redmond returning from Small Game For Big Hunters, Robert Urquhart from Castle DeAth, Gary Watson in his fourth appearance, Richard Caldicot from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Station.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Naive Avengersthon - 122. They Keep Killing Steed

Arcos (Ray McAnally returning from The Positive-Negative Man) has a plan to blow up a peace conference. And his operative will have a perfect disguise in the form of Steed's face. The whole face-changing thing is excellent - the bulbous transformation masks are very sinister and we're satisfyingly shown on two occasions what happens when the process goes wrong.

Steed's improvised counter-plan is very clever, an example of 'If the system is big enough to break you, try helping it on its way.'

Lots of running about for Tara, but because she doesn't really know what's going on at any stage, she doesn't really drive the plot much. She just gets to visit 'Mother''s riverbottom base, and ponce around with the pretty Baron von Curt, the companion of the week. He may look like Jason Donovan's effeminate brother but he's an effective fencer.

A very good episode with lots of style - a further example in the way that Arcos' secret evil base is entered through the doors of a burnt-out van in a quarry.

Ray McAnally is a real thoughtful villain, his chess-playing scene with the captive Steed is a delight. Norman 'Hieronymous' Jones as his henchman.

Previously and also seen: Bernard Horsfall (third appearance).

Also seen: Reg 'Krail' Whitehead, and, very briefly, Angharad Rees.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Naive Avengersthon - 121. Legacy of Death

Intriguing opening with Farrer (Richard Hurndall) giving last-minute instructions to his butler Zoltan (!) (John 'Sondergaard' Hollis in his fourth appearance) before climbing into his coffin. Not long later, Zoltan arrives at Steed's flat to present him with his legacy of a jade dagger.

Such is the value of the dagger that several competing gangs of grotesques are ready to murder their way to it. Stratford 'Monarch' Johns, returning all the way from The Frighteners, as Sidney Street, is the best of them.

The climactic reveal of Farrer's intentions makes a good scene, though of course we don't really expect anyone to get their hands on the treasure and we aren't surprised. Street displays a sort of nobility at the end, it's rather good.

Also seen: Tutte Lemkow (Cyclops in The Myth Makers). The wonderful Peter 'The Supervisor' Swanwick. Michael 'Collins in Pyramids' Bilton.

Previously seen: Ronald Lacey from The Joker. Kynaston Reeves from What The Butler Saw.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Naive Avengersthon - 120. Noon Doomsday

I watched this one in a rage because I was waiting for a parcel that didn't come, so it's a wonder that I saw anything good in it at all. Steed is recuperating from an injury at the fantastically-secure 'Department S' - unfortunately it becomes a trap for him and Tara when assassin Gerald Kafka (!) comes looking for revenge.

Amusing array of unhelpful responses from the other patients - one (Peter 'Packer' Halliday) would help, but is too selfish; one is crippled by anxiety; another is afflicted by a combination of lust for Tara and cowardice. The only one brave enough to help is immobilised in plaster, but insists Tara wheels him to the window so he can keep lookout. This gallant man is played by one Anthony Ainley...

Tara takes on all three assassins, but isn't quite good enough to beat Kafka. Luckily Steed has a surprise up his sleeve, or pretty close to his sleeve anyway.

Ray 'Robbie Box' Brooks rather good as one of Kafka's assistants. T.P. 'Captain Cook' McKenna (third appearance) as the other.

Previously seen: Lyndon Brook from The Hidden Tiger, John Glyn-Jones from A Sense of History, David Glover from The See-through Man.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Naive Avengersthon - 119. False Witness

Not really keen on this one - the idea of a drug that makes people lie is interesting enough, but the execution is silly. Putting it in milk deliveries seems a hit-and-miss way of doing it, and why does it make the first two victims believe the lies they're telling (convincingly enough for a lie-detector in one case), but leave Tara aware that they're false?

'Mother' has a mobile HQ on a double-decker bus on this one, an image iconic enough for me to have heard of it before I started this 'thon.

Previously and also seen: John 'Chang' Bennett returning from Mission to Montreal, Rio 'Harker' Fanning from Dead Man's Treasure.

Also seen: Simon 'Zadek' Lack, Jimmy 'Idmon' Gardner.

Previously seen: Barry Warren from Too Many Christmas Trees, Tony Steedman from The Little Wonders, William Job from Man-eater of Surrey Green and Arthur Pentelow from Trojan Horse.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Naive Avengersthon - 118. Game

A good episode. Monte Bristow (Peter 'Count Grendel' Jeffrey in his third appearance) has made it big in the games business after his unfortunate wartime court-martial for black-markeetering. And he's out for revenge by making his enemies play for their lives in occupationally-themed games.

Steed is last on the list, and he's lured to the games room by clues in the form of jigsaw pieces. Not so much for Tara to do in this ep other than assemble the jigsaw and protectively build a barricade of furniture to safeguard Steed in his flat.

Bristow is a great villain - I particularly like the way that he's basically cheated in making the games unwinnable, and his consequent chagrin when Steed starts winning. His butler (Garfield 'Haskins' Morgan from The Fear Merchants) politely insists at this point that Steed gets his fair rewards.

Some of the games are very well realised, particularly the stock market and wargame ones chosen for the two investor and soldier victims respectively. Unfortunately I didn't think Steed's game of 'Secret Agent' was one of them, it was more a series of fights. Steed's ingenious gamesmanship in the doors puzzle is great though.

Also seen: Aubrey 'Prof Parry' Richards, again as a professor; Brian 'Adam in The Dinosaur Invasion' Badcoe.

Previously seen: Anthony Newlands from Dial A Deadly Number, Alex Scott from Too Many Christmas Trees.