The Removal Men
This episode is notable for Steed shooting dead (apparently) not one but two men. It is done well, and Steed has little choice but to defend himself in this way, but it but does not feel like The Avengers.
The Avenged?: With Steed's contacts, one would have expected that the local authorities could have faked up a press release confirming movie star Nicole was actually dead. That would have saved the problems with suspicions being raised about her car being found but no body turning up. Still, Bug showed initiative and his resentment of Steed is also authentic, even if his Australian accent is the phoniest of phonies.
Diabolical Masterminds?: International mobsters, this time led by Jack Dragna, played by Reed de Rouen (who, as an actor, makes a great writer). The opening scenes of an unidentifiable burglar rifling through his safe are done well: to my surprise, it is revealed to be Steed, who is discovered by Dragna's wife. Unlike reports at The Nitpicker's Guide, she is not seen in the shower (this was the opening to "The Decapod") but she does first appear naked, behind conveniently-placed saloon doors! Steed decides to lock her in the bathroom (luckily, it had a keyhole lock on the outside, otherwise he would have looked a bit silly).
The Avengers?: One-Ten is great as a beach bum! He's complaining vociferously about his drinks again (fizzy whisky this time). Venus Smith sings (well, kind of) and gyrates a bit. Then the band plays by itself (interminably). Later, Venus plays piano and sings. Did the villains really deserve all this punishment? The look of anguish on Edwin Richfield's face as the Dave Lee Trio hog the limelight is priceless (though as jazz goes, it is pretty good). Dave the pianist calls Venus "Julie." At least Venus' hair in the title sequence doesn't look like a shower cap any longer (as in the titles for "The Decapod"). However, the "Mod" look in "School for Traitors" suits her better.
Umbrella, Charm and a Bowler Hat?: Steed is a treat throughout, saving the episode. He stops just short of smarm, and shows Dragna's wife interest whilst keeping a polite — and safe! — distance. The only time his artfulness slips is in the offhand way he involves Venus. She would have been safer if he had pretended not to know her, assuming they truly meet here by coincidence. He would have been safer, too — she gossips recklessly and damages Steed's operation. All he needs her for is to find out how much money the nightclub earns, hardly vital stuff. One-Ten goes off with a movie starlet, rushing her away when she spots Steed, the sly old dog ("a hundred-and-ten, still batting!").
Bizarre?: A nice moving location shot which feels very Avenger-ish, the camera dizzily revolving as Steed and Nicole run down the spiral stairwell at the "movie studio." Otherwise a rather run-of-the-mill story with far too much stopping of the plot for musical interludes. More could have been made of Venus suspecting Steed of actually killing Nicole, since this is only their second story together and she's seen his ruthlessness. Steed ordered to apply One-Ten's suntan lotion is amusing.
One bowler, simply for Patrick Macnee holding it all together. In contrast to the lacklustre performances from the guests, he's convincing from start to end, showing tension under his smiling cover role, and desperation in the gritty climactic fight. The man's a star!
The Removal Men
Plot: Good. I've always like the episodes of any series where the good guy infiltrates the bad guys' side.
Humour: Good. One-Ten inquires as to how his tan looks on his front, to which Steed replies "medium rare."
Direction: Good. Some very nice shots when Steed and Nicole descend the staircase.
Acting: Very Good. Great to see Edwin Richfield again.
Music: Good. Nice piece plays when Dragna contacts Binaggio. The Venus Smith songs were still annoying.
Tag: Good. One-Ten is about three times as old as Nicole—disgusting!
Miscellaneous: Steed was a little nicer to Venus on this occasion. This could have been a great episode, but several things drag it down. What in the world was the scene about with the Dave Lee Trio playing for about three minutes? Once again I do not see the point of having Venus Smith in this episode. She didn't help Steed and some other character could just as easily have seen him escaping with Nicole.
Overall Rating: 5/10
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