Box of Tricks
As others point out, the "trick" is obvious and the story just falls flat, because there is no way that the magician could be involved and not be arrested after the second murder.
The Avenged?: A NATO committee, apparently held in the General's own home. Were they short of sets this week?
Diabolical Masterminds?: A quack "healer" who relies on his dupes having an IQ less than their shoe size. And what a bright idea, transmitting the recorded secrets (from underground?) mere yards away from the murder scene, whilst playing them on a loudspeaker. Possibly the least lethal "killer" ever; after the first ten minutes his "traps" are miserably bad, and when he has a chance to shoot Steed, he just backs out of the room and closes the door. Eh?
The Avengers?: Venus in overdrive. In the final scene she seems to be gabbling in a race against the clock, lecturing Steed on how he could have improved his counter-intelligence work. Steed tries to shut her up by asking her to dance (it doesn't work).
Umbrella, Charm and a Bowler Hat?: Steed's uncharacteristic cover role, an overenthusiastic masseur, doesn't allow much time for the "real" Steed to shine — but he's amusing as a hypochondriac millionaire. Venus' shrill songs and jerky dancing ensure it is not only Dr Gallam who has an urge to do away with her. At least they're short songs.
Bizarre?: Cosmic rays and crystals — interesting to see "New Age" ideas so early; perhaps the 60s are starting to swing?
Loses a bowler for Venus and the parade of anonymous/interchangeable blondes, plot "twist" visible a mile off, inept antagonists, desperate sets, and just general ugh-ness. Okay, half a bowler for Steed's millionaire act.
Box of Tricks
Plot: Good. Taping secrets reminded me of "What the Butler Saw." The magic show never tied in well with the main plot.
Humour: Good. My favourite line from the episode comes from the scene where Steed is chatting up a girl trying to find out about the murder. "What about this cabinet, eh, is that the same one they used when..." "When that silly little girl got herself killed? Yes, it is the same. If that is all you are interested in, why don't you go and have a look at the cabinet for yourself? It's backstage." "Is it really? Thank you, I will."
Acting: Good. Patrick did a good job as the hypochondriac millionaire.
Music: OK. I liked Venus' first song. It reminded me of that song they sang on the The Lawrence Welk Show at the end. Although I never liked The Lawrence Welk Show in particular, I always liked that song.
Tag: Poor. Pointless and annoying.
Miscellaneous: I didn't like Venus' haircut, but she did seem a little smarter in this episode. The intro to this episode was very different. It flowed from the intro to Act 1 almost seamlessly where as usually we are treated to the fade to black. I enjoyed the opening footage of London. Venus looked like a genius next to the gullible Kathleen Sutherland. This is the best of the Venus Smith episodes I have seen so far.
Overall Rating: 5/10
Box of Tricks
That magician's cabinet seems to be the box of tricks and the nightclub owner looks bound to play some part in anything underhand. It might have been good to link the long sequence of scenes of city nightlife to the action indoors by zooming in on the club exterior. It still feels like they're somewhere near Piccadilly Circus.
Given that the club gets closed after the magician's first assistant is killed in the show the big weakness in the plot is how little the police are involved after the second death. Other things such as why a transmitter wouldn't be located in a private apartment can maybe be explained.
The spying plot is good and leaves me wondering what the motivation of Gallam and the magician was. Perhaps it seemed safe enough operating from that basement initially. When things start to get out of hand does Gallam resort to murder because he's acting out of some idealistic beliefs with the magician just in it for the money? Quite a nasty way they try to get rid of Steed, too. The General's daughter acts in good faith but is really quite gullible in believing in the healing boxes. It's clear she isn't involved, just foolish; and, as things turn out, stops short of getting very emotionally involved with him too. I thought Steed might be counting bullets before she intervened.
Venus's songs are enjoyable; it was a good idea to have a singer in the show for a while. She's very agreeable and helpful to Steed in his assignment even looking to him to give her the nod to take over in the show. Of course she would be inquisitive of the box he gets delivered to her address. I like his reaction on hearing that she's opened it. He's really done all the intelligence work this time however so her enthusiasm at the very end is quite adorable in telling him all they've achieved. She gets everything right but still needs some reassurance. He doesn't even mind getting a kick on the dance floor from another blonde acquaintance because of her. Venus obviously believes they make a great team and for the few episodes she was Steed's Avengers girl—they did.
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