A Chorus of Frogs
This is minor league stuff for both Steed and the series. It does have its moments: there's a murder by harpoon, the ship sets are another step up from the good ones in 'Mission to Montreal' early in the season, and there's a hotheaded gun-brandishing woman who gets some great dialogue with Steed. Sadly, it also has Venus singing a lullaby and reverting to a childish petulance with Steed. For once, Steed hasn't set her up; but one can forgive her for thinking he has. Thank goodness it's her last episode.
The Avenged?: Two members of an elite diving/salvage/smuggling group called "The Frogs". Their confusion over their national identities (or lack of them), and their childhood friendships, hint at some restless characters with lots of possibilities, but there isn't much time to explore them. Ariston's desire to look beyond the vendetta into the reasons for the deaths is refreshingly intelligent.
Diabolical Masterminds?: Anna Lee, who works for an unnamed Government that doesn't like British investigations. She's sarcastic and a little sadistic, but not given anything very interesting to do.
The Avengers?: One-Six is back as Steed's boss, sadly in little more than a cameo. None of the delightful sparring with Steed from his earlier appearance. He's flown out to Greece to interrupt Steed's vacation. What kind of expense accounts do Steed's bosses have, jetting all over the world simply to give him a few orders? Haven't they heard of telegrams? Venus is shown learning Cantonese from a book and a record, a scene probably inserted to dispel the idea that she is an idiot (a hopeless task). The more vibrant female character of Helena makes Venus look even more of a drip than usual. When Venus is told by steed to stay in her cabin, she pouts. When Helena is told the same, she mutters, "I make no promises," then eventually gets her gun out and soon locks the door on Steed and Mason!
Umbrella, Charm and a Bowler Hat?: Steed's holiday-wear (striped shirt) looks simply shocking. When he invites himself to stay in her cabin, Venus says she hasn't rinsed his socks because the stewards would gossip.
Bizarre?: Mason's stateroom looks like a palatial set that has had a few portholes added. Luckily this suits the character perfectly. I kept thinking that Anna Lee was referring to a company owned by Mason when she talked about "Pelago" providing the facilities, yet she appears to think this is Mason's name. Perhaps because the ship is called the Archipelago. Either it is her government's codename for Mason, or she believes Mason's name is Archie Pelago!
By the final "storming of the barricades" gunfight I was expecting another twist or layer of plot to tie it all together. But really all there is to know is revealed quite early on—it seems Stephanopoulus volunteered for the experiment that killed him, and Anna was responsible for harpooning Jackson to protect her country's investment in developing mini-subs.
Starts well, then treads water. A middling two bowlers.
A Chorus of Frogs
Plot: OK. Cold War plot involving submarines and mercenaries. Rather tedious.
Humour: Good. In this episode Steed is asked, "Are you English" — Ha! As English as they come. My favourite lines: "Stowaway, eh? I hope you haven't been too uncomfortable, Mr. Steed." "It's the most comfortable ship I've ever stowed away on."
Acting: Good. Nice performances by Eric Pohlmann and John Carson.
Music: OK. When Venus said she was going to sing I cringed (not because it is bad, which it isn't, just pointless), I then breathed a sigh of relief when the scene changed, but alas I still had to hear her sing twice!
Tag: Poor. "Press the required button." Maybe it's me, but I don't get the joke.
Miscellaneous: Steed was wearing a very mod looking ensemble at the beginning. The fight scenes were quite lacklustre in this episode. Steed didn't appear to be worried at all. He just strolled about and took people's guns from them.
Overall Rating: 5/10
A Chorus of Frogs
One of the two best episodes with Julie Stevens as Venus Smith (the other being "School for Traitors"), this has excellent supporting players including Colette Wilde as Helena, who seems to be pointing a gun at someone half the time, the always reliable John Carson as Ariston, and, in particular, an Asian actress by the name of Yvonne Shima as Anna. She is one of the best female villains ever IMHO, who delivers this ultimatum to Dr. Pitt-Norton: "You can do one of two things, work with us, in which case I think you will find life rewarding (smiles), or you can refuse, in which case I will arrange for you to be shot (frowns); if you don't believe me, that's your affair. Well?" Fierce stuff!
Julie Stevens is her usual overly cheerful self, tolerable but she has little to do with the plot, as usual. Steed tells her, "It's stopped raining" after the gunfight finale, during which she crawls underneath a desk or something. Every time she starts singing, I fast forward. It's a good thing Honor Blackman came along, or the series might have folded if Stevens were allowed to stay. I personally love these early, pre-Emma Peel episodes. The actors are really tested as to their abilities, and perform remarkably. I love the emphasis on dialogue and the abundance of medium and close-up shots. It creates an atmosphere of intimacy not found in subsequent seasons. And Honor Blackman is truly extraordinary. I'm hooked!
materials copyrighted per their respective copyright holders.