The Young Avenger
Page 4 of 110

Death Dispatch
By Joseph A.P. Lloyd

Direction: Four out of five. In general, it is unpredictable whether or not Jonathan Alwyn will direct an episode well (see "The Secrets Broker" and "School for Traitors" for a qualification of this). However, for the first episode ever with Cathy in it, Alwyn really does seem to have got it right straight away. Unlike Peter Hammond, there are no really strange camera angles, but instead the performances of most of the actors are so polished that they put the filmed episodes of The Saint to shame.

Plot: Four out of five. It does not matter that this episode does not contain anything more than the standard Saint/Danger Man material of the time. The way in which The Avengers is transported away from sets in London and actually made to represent itself in the Caribbean and South America is to be applauded, and the whole thing seems feasible without being boring. There are even eccentrics involved at this stage, and one of them seems able to swing through windows in order to commit murders.

Music: Three out of five. Better than the average score for this season, but still not a great deal to commend, there are two very interesting pieces of music in this episode. The first is with the almost newsreel type stock footage at the beginning of the episode, and really does seem very like the kind of thing that Cleo Laine might have sung along to when her husband (Dankworth) was composing it. The second is the Spanish guitar in the Santiago tavern. A commendable song, and as far as we know, certainly well handled.

Wittiness: Four and a half out of five. There really is not much to say about this category other than encouraging people to watch this episode and also to condone the fact that Leonard Fincham did not write more episodes for the series. I will mention the scene with Gerald Harper as being quite possibly one of the finest comic moments of the season, however. For the best line, see The Avengers Forever.

Action: One out of five. There is certainly the potential here for a scuffle to break out at any moment, although this does not actually happen. The murder of the courier in the hotel room is very violent (despite the knife clattering to the floor afterwards), and it does take Steed's best display of wits to get the better of Monroe and Rosas at the end, so one point here.

Cars/Sets/Locations: Three and a half out of five. What a shame that we did not see more of these foreign locations in the series! Here the number of different settings, and a general Latin flavour to the whole thing certainly improves the general meat of the storyline, and this is backed up by some really rather good sets. The Jamaica hotel room is particularly noteworthy for being almost exactly the same as Sean Connery's in Dr No. Somehow the stock footage, including that beach ball, does not seem as bad as it sounds from a description.

Introduction/Tag: Four out of five. Despite that large amount of establishing footage, it does seem as if we are firmly in James Bond territory with this episode. The contrast between this and something like "Immortal Clay" is so vast, because from the start, there seem to be higher stakes than a normal episode. The murder itself is really quite sinister. Shame about the lack of black actors. The tag also features a time between Gerald Harper and Patrick Macnee, which is bound to be good for a laugh.

Overall Impression: What a wonderful episode! All the elements which made the Cathy Gale character are yet to come together, but still this really is one of the best episodes of the season. The characterisation is very well developed, the script sparkles in every dialogue scene, and the playful relationship between Steed and Cathy might even be far more fun to watch than the later episodes. Even the direction is superb. This could have turned out to be a terrible episode, and on paper it does not look promising. Somehow, however, this is carried off with that style which is unique to the series, and there is a lot more to this episode than a simple sub-Bondian plot. It begs to be watched!

Rating: Eight and a half out of ten.

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