The GLG Reports
Page 2 of 67

The Big Thinker
By Grant L. Goggans

"You talk about it as though it were a person, not a machine!" This quote is the most spectacular piece of ill-advised scripting possible for this episode. In all of the TV appearances of the cliche of giant, room-filling super-computers (which The Avengers does here, in 1962, before most anybody else), the computer is rarely actually used as just a tool, and not personified at all. It's actually a shame that it's not a mad, murderous HAL/BOSS thing in this story, since Plato is the centerpiece of a dull, schizophrenic episode that tries too hard to cover many bases. Is this story about killer computers, as the teaser hints? No, it's about the sabotage of a perfectly benign computer... no, it's actually about some card sharks cheating one of the geniuses at Plato, apparently, but then it switches back and it's really about sabotage after all. Even accepting the no-frills production, this one's awfully hard to follow, and opening the episode with several minutes of totally dull exposition doesn't help. Adding to the problematic direction and camerawork is the dreadful performance by Anthony Booth, some years away from playing Mike in Till Death Us Do Part. Not only is his character a totally unlikable egotist, but Booth spends so much time mumbling and jerking away from the microphones that he's almost incoherent most of the time. Amusingly, there's a great scene towards the end in the Plato control room with a boom mike clearly visible behind Blackman and Booth and you still can't make out what he's saying. The lousy production also makes the villain's death a laugh riot. Already suffering from an attack of the bad scripties, the saboteur decides to destroy Plato before Plato can print out evidence that he's the villain. So, in clear view of most of the cast, he goes on a rampage in a big computer room with a club, before collapsing from a fatal heart attack, such was the strain of knocking apart this cardboard set. Actually, he's meant to have been given a lethal shock by hitting a live terminal, not that you can really tell. Compounding even these problems, for US audiences, was the usual hatchet job done to the story by A&E on its 1991 airing. In one particularly oddball moment, the project director puts Plato under security lockdown and states nobody will be able to enter, not even Mrs. Gale. The very next shot is Cathy wandering around the control room! The best things about this episode are the fight scenes, Cathy's truly stunning wardrobe and the wonderful moment of Steed playing pinball, but they're hardly enough to make up for the parade of bad acting, bad production and an overly complicated and dull script.

All materials copyrighted per their respective copyright holders.
This website Copyright 1996-2017 David K. Smith. All Rights Reserved.
Page last modified: 5 May 2017.

Top of page
Table of Contents