Traitor in Zebra
This episode suffers from that age old problem of Cathy Gale episode: The quality of the print is very poor (although it may just be my copy); the scene at the start with Cathy and Steed chatting about Sub-lieutenant Crane is almost unintelligible.
This episode could easily fit into the first Emma Peel season, or it could have been a New Avengers episode; it would have been great in season 4. The opening scene is like a scene from a police drama which has been up and running for half an hour, but it captures the atmosphere perfectly and sets the mood for the rest of the episode. Noel Coleman gives a fine performance as Nash, he always is good as these high ranking officers (see Doctor Who, "The War Games" for proof) and it is great he's not the villain.
A friend of mine criticized this episode for being obvious, but this isn't a work-it-out-yourself plot, it's a watch-Steed-and-Cathy-work-it-out episode. Macnee really introduces the Steed which we all love in this episode; he's charming, dedicated and drives a posh car—perfect.
However, it really bugs me that only two of these Welsh people have Welsh accents, and not very good ones. William Gaunt gives a good shot as Graham, the friend of the accused, and it really is shame to see his character killed.
The method by which the information is stolen is quite clever and is a pointer to the surrealism to come. The villain, however, could only fit in this season as he's all nasty and viscous. The strangulation at the end of Act One made me twitch.
Overall: Three and a half bowlers.
Traitor in Zebra
The Avenged?: A scapegoat for leaked missile-tracking secrets. Refreshingly set on a Royal Navy shore station in Wales, this story has some cutting-edge science in laser-ranging (LADAR) and microwave jamming. At one point, Steed nearly walks into a trap that will cook him! The Avengers almost invented the microwave oven before its time.
Diabolical Masterminds?: A trio of spies, some passable performances. Steed says "you're always safe with a pipe smoker." It turns out, of course, that you aren't. Steed mercilessly traps the man in a room with his own bomb, insisting he defuse it — for a tense few moments it seems he genuinely doesn't know how to. Good acting in the desperate screaming department!
The Avengers?: Cathy and Steed get on like a house on fire. Their scenes together give one a warm glow. Steed drives his first vintage car on-screen, a magnificent 1930s Lagonda (whilst posing as a Navy psychiatrist, so it is apparently part of his disguise).
Umbrella, Charm and a Bowler Hat?: A Royal Navy commander's rig for Steed. It rather suits him, even if Cathy has to remind him to remove his hat "between decks." Well, he was an army man.
Bizarre?: All that rigmarole with codes sent by dartboard, dog's collars, etc., does not disguise the route the spies use; in fact, it draws attention to them. And the properties of a ruby used for lasers are described in just 5 digits — really?!
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