The Young Avenger
Traitor in Zebra
Direction: Two and a half out of five. There is an awful lot of difference between the other two Richmond Harding efforts I have seen ("Immortal Clay" and "The White Dwarf"), and this falls squarely between the two. There are no real outstanding shots, but then again, it is not as boring to watch as "Immortal Clay," it must be better.
Plot: Three and a half out of five. Although it is about as basic as you can get, and not really dressed up at all from its bare elements as so many an Emma Peel episode is, there is a nice simplicity about the whole thing, which is just to discover who the main traitor is, and how they are extracting the secrets. Neither Steed nor Cathy are sidelined, and their work is very different, so extra points here. There is something missing, I feel.
Music: Two out of five. Not one of Dankworth's worst efforts, but nonetheless not his best effort either, it seems to quite rapidly descend into a "let's see how we can fit this particular theme in" contest, which is awful. At least it is not obtrusive like School for Traitors.
Wittiness: One out of five. The only John Gilbert episode I have yet seen, and I am sorry to say that no lines at all stand out to me as they do in most episodes. The general content and some of the scenes raise the score above zero, but it will not go any higher.
Action: Two and a half out of five. One side of me wanted to give the end fight a good score, because of its realistic air, but the other side remembered that this was it for action apart from a strangling in a Morris Minor Traveller earlier in the episode, so the score could not climb any higher. So it ended up with the average score.
Cars/Sets/Locations: Three and a half out of five. Amazingly, there is a rather large amount of location filming in the episode, especially as it was done in late November. Steed, contrary to most people who say that his first vintage car was a Bugatti in Don't Look Behind You, drives a Lagonda from the mid-1930s in this one, CPT 75. The sets are nothing special, on the whole, and the pub does not feel as if it is going to collapse at any minute as the set would in the next episode.
Introduction/Tag: Two out of five. I cannot think of a word to describe it really, because it is not boring, not exciting, totally relevant and totally witless. it is in keeping with the rest of the episode, however, so I suppose it earns those points. Predictable, that is what it is.
Overall Impression: Rankin is certainly an interesting character, and helps to lift the somewhat routine nature of the story somewhat. I can compare this to "The Golden Eggs" in terms of interest in the plot, personally, but without Peter Hammond's direction, it suffers somewhat. That is not to say that the plot is bad, or the direction is bad, it is just that it is a little bit routine, but interesting. Richard Leech gives a four star performance as the traitor Franks, and he even has a go with Cathy! Steed is very good as the psychiatrist, and seems very in control of the situation, even when everyone else is far less confident. The fact that my surname is Welsh also attracts me to the story, so some more points are gathered here. The dislike of the coastal Welsh life by the two young girls is something that many people face!
Rating: Six out of ten.
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