Man in the Mirror
This episode really could have been so much better. The plot is Avengers to a tee, but why is it so dull? Interestingly the co-writer, Geoffery Orme, wrote one Doctor Who script which was terrible. Hmmm.
The opening tag is so dull and pointless; wouldn't it have been more interesting to have Trevelyan committing suicide? Venus doesn't even get a good set of songs (I'm a Jazz fan); still, at least it's not a Steedless episode—that would be awful.
Kim Mills is setting himself up as the worst director ever; it is slow, unengaging and, erm, boring. There is one consolation, however, in the form of Micheal Gover as One-Six and Sheba. Sheba is a much underrated character and is by far the best actress in the episode (next to Macnee and Gover).
Venus is really badly acted in this episode ("School for Traitors" and "A Chorus of Frogs" being her best), Mrs. Trevelyan looks twice Trevelyen's age, and the less said about the prostitute in one scene the better.
For a self-proclaimed Tara fan, Venus ought to apply to me but she hasn't got an once of her character or her more visual assets.
I try to be original in my reviews, but alas this is pure dross.
I'm giving it half a bowler (only because I can't give it zilch).
Man in the Mirror
I was so worried that this episode was going to be bad, but—surprise—it was quite good. First of all, the singing helped the story move along (at least for this jazz-lover), Venus is not as bad as everyone thinks, and the love sub-plot is good, making it a well rounded episode. Showcasing Venus with Steed is a nice break from the Cathy Gale stories. I liked more it more than others in the latter part of the season.
Man in the Mirror
Slow moving and very dated, "The Man In The Mirror" is a long way away from the Emma Peel adventures we all adore. However, there moments during the show's running time that (in hindsight) suggest where the series was going.
An early scene is of interest: a woman stands outside a strip club; enter Steed, who talks briefly to her before entering... soon after we discover that it is not just a club but more (bizarrely) a cover for the government operation that Steed works for. This is very similar to all those hidden offices that Mother used in the Tara King season.
The retractions of "live" TV at the time forced the makers to use limited sets; this in fact produces an almost surreal edge to the show, very similar to the haunting images of "Too Many Christmas Trees" and "The House That Jack Built"... in many ways the show was off-the-wall even in these early days.
Performances are adequate—of note, Ray Barrett, a regular face on British TV during the sixties, though probably best remembered today for the 1966 Hammer Film The Reptile.
Steed is not yet the gentleman, and comes across a charming, womanising type who will stop at nothing to get his man—a loose cannon in fact, certainly not one to play by the rules.
Old, grainy and of interest more for its historical importance than because of its content. View it once with interest... but would you view it again—I doubt it.
Man in the Mirror
On a curious note, the penultimate Venus Smith episode was produced at a time when Londoners were affected by an intense cold wave (mentioned even by Patrick Macnee in his book The Avengers and Me) which in fact the performers themselves referred to every time they had the chance. In view of this, one could reasonably argue that the episode lacked the warmth necessary to make it flow dynamically. However, and even though these remarks are true, one has to admit that a few scenes generate a spark capable of lighting a fire under any viewer! Or what else could we say, for instance, about the juicy exchange of not at all gentle words between Steed and his superior, One-Six?
Newcomer One-Six, who obviously would meet Steed for the first time (he also made a second appearance in the last Venus episode, "A Chorus of Frogs"), not only hides his HQ in a night club, but also shows his displeasure upon discovering that Steed came late to his meeting... One-Six: "For your information, I expect everybody on my team to attend these briefings on time. If you can't do that, I don't see how you expect to keep ahead of the opposition." Steed: "For your information, I've been working here for some time. So far I've managed to keep ahead of the opposition."
Afterwards, John "Quick-Tempered" Steed is assigned to dig up the Trevelyan case by doing some office work, for which he shows no eagerness: "Office work isn't quite my line." But the case proves a tad more complicated than expected and Steed asks his boss for 48 hours to find the lost fellow... One-Six: "For a man who says he's such a long way ahead, 24 hours should be enough." Steed: "Touché!" I really can't think of another videotaped episode displaying such a pungent dialogue between Steed and one of his superiors. If this isn't enough to speed up the sluggish pace of "Man In The Mirror," then... well, we could talk about Venus.
Once again Venus reveals her manifest innocence and naiveté typical of a girl who simply takes a walk with Steed's dog, Sheba, and gets scared by the face masks in the House of Horrors at the fair. Nevertheless, she assumes an unusual determination when she begs Betty to bring both her broach and Steed's camera back. Venus' insistence finishes with her being tied to the bars of a bed, but... don't worry—Steed, his tied hands, will also occupy a place in that bed.
There are no songs at the night club this time, but when listening to Julie Stevens one wonders what the producers sought by having her sing. Even though the jazz of the Kenny Powell Trio sounds acceptable, Miss Stevens' inability to sing in tune was always apparent, prompting the viewers to try two quick options—either turn the volume down on their TV set, or make good use of the fast forward feature of their VCRs or DVD players.
As for the rest of the episode, there isn't much to add. The settings are limited to the meager resources available at that time and, in truth, the "amusement park" looks like one of the kermises held at my elementary school back in the 60s. The script presents several enigmas that I was unable to work out: who is the man killed in the introduction scene (actually, this is not the "man in the mirror," and the public may well have a false clue with this sequence)? How does the triangular love affair between Brown, Betty and Strong really work? What happens finally to the Trevelyans?—Further, if the disloyal couple eventually managed to escape, then what is the story aiming for?
Man in the Mirror
The Avenged?: An anonymous man in the intro. Brown the funfair owner is shot, but optimistic that he'll get better. The stabbing of villain Strong is fairly... er, strong, though—quite disturbingly realistic. The biggest crime is against our ears, with Venus' singing taking syncopation into seldom-heard realms of bizarre tempo and mistiming.
Diabolical Masterminds?: I don't understand why viewers are confused about the intro sequence corpse and Trevelyan's faked suicide. It's made clear that another body is required, to be identified as Trevelyan. Presumably this is the poor chap whose body is shown being bundled away at the start. The body on the railway line, thought to be Trevelyan, wears Trevelyan's clothes—from which the villains foolishly forgot to remove the funfair ticket.
The Avengers?: Steed's exchanges with One-Six are the high point: "It'll do you good to get in some paperwork, Steed. There are no lone wolves on my team." Steed (to himself, smirking) "Just old foxes." One-Six briefs a whole cadre of agents in what outwardly seems to be a Soho strip joint, complete with "tart with a heart" scaring customers away at the door. Is there no end to Venus Smith's stupidity? She blunders through this like someone trying to earn a Darwin award. She was sensible enough to get Steed's film developed, but only so she could waste another on photos of his dog!
Umbrella, Charm and a Bowler Hat?: The sixties are starting to swing—apart from Venus' dire gear, sharp suits and some echorette guitar enliven the fairground. Venus (and the TV viewer, but not a slightly disappointed-looking Steed) are treated to a what the butler saw-style can-can sequence—how very racy.
Bizarre?: Venus lives in Manchester apparently. So, how come she's always helping Steed in London? they're a long way apart.
Tedious. One bowler.
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