Visitor Reviews
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Don't Look Behind You
by Darren A. Burch, England

The Joker has long been a favourite of mine but to compare a film production with this live videotaped production is unfair, so I tried to approach it on its own terms and look for what they tried to achieve. In my own opinion, both episodes fit really well in their respective seasons due to approaches taken. Whilst The Joker takes a more humorous slant, Don't Look Behind You is more serious and (I hesitate to say it) realistic.

Cathy takes the whole episode very seriously and emotionally, particularly when face to face with Martin Goodman. I don't think that her tears really work but I can see Honor Blackman's reasoning behind it. It's quite surprising as for the rest of the episode she comes across as very tough. At the end, we have another one of those moments when Cathy feels used by Steed but also betrayed this time. In their first scene together, Cathy just seems irriated by Steed. She obviously has the weekend on her mind and he comes around all happy and jolly messing around with the armour. For the short time that he features, Brian Clemens gives Steed some great lines.

It has a great film sequence next as Steed demonstrates his new car. You can tell that Patrick and Honor had fun shooting it. I like the touches of the men outside the pub who wave and cheer as they pass and Steed stopping to pick some flowers for Cathy.

If there's just one thing that this triumphs over The Joker, it's in the character interaction. Steed reacting to the odd Ola is marvellous. Janine Gray gives a livelier performance as Ola than her successor, which makes the early scenes amusing to watch. She can also seem quite dangerous; the look she gives when Steed leaves is creepy. Kenneth Colley is a fine actor and is incredibly convincing as the Young Man, and you can tell he enjoys teasing Mrs Gale. I prefer the pretence of the film director as it brings out some great dialogue. In The Joker, Clemens doesn't really know what to do with the Young Man but here it's more focused.

Due to the restraints that the production imposes, the silent moments are difficult to achieve. The name-calling scene lacks the impact that film allowed in The Joker. The later moments are quite creepy, though, due to the low lighting and dark sets. The last act doesn't come across very well; it just seems to meander along waiting for a climax. But what a climax. When Martin Goodman finally appears, it's somewhat surreal. Our first full view of him is in a mirror. As he stands there peeling an apple, he just oozes madness. He acts as if they' re having a casual conversation and he hasn't just seconds before been trying to scare her. As he tries to strangle Cathy we have a wonder montage of bizarre images: him sitting in his cell stewing over her photo.

As always, Peter Hammond's direction is flawless. Due to the quick pace of the scenes he can usually only use one camera per room, as the other three are needed elsewhere. Despite this he still brings great atmosphere to the proceedings. His shots of the rocking horse, clocks ticking and the creepy mask on display in the dinning room spring to mind. I like it as Steed is leaving and Ola plays with his hat and umbrella. He gets them back from her, they look at one another, and he goes. Once outside he suddenly looses his cheery demeanour and looks very concerned. She then hugs the front door and turns with a look that says, "now the fun really begins." You can just feel the mood change as, up until then, it had all been quite light-hearted (madman cutting up photo of Cathy aside). Apart from Honor choosing to rebel against his "play it tough" instructions, Hammond gets some marvellous performances out of everyone. As good as Sidney Hayers' direction was (his best), I can't help but wonder how much better The Joker would have been if Peter Hammond had been given another go.

Another part worthy of mention is Terry Green's atmospheric design for the house, with its huge hallway and gargoyle statues beside the front door. I would have loved to have seen the original broadcast of this, devoid of all the transfers that it has endured. As the sets and lighting are quite dark, the images can seem very blurred; the items on the dinning table are impossible to make out.

It may lack the polish of the filmed Joker, but it isn't without its good points.

Don't Look Behind You
by Nick Griffiths

I disagree with David's point of view of "Don't Look Behind You" as this is my favourite Cathy Gale episode. It is one which really suffers from a full colour re-make, which is okay, but this is the masterpiece. For a start I always found that the Girl in this is truly creepy as she isn't employment by the villain and is a genuine nutcase. I think she really was seeing a sick friend (who'd be more sick after talking to her). Steed comes across well as the swine who manipulated Venus and has put Cathy out as bait. The real let-down is the young man; he isn't weird enough! Martin Goodman is a truly scary man, unlike Max in the remake. Maurice Good gives him an edge because he acts and talks about his crimes like "Jack-the-lad" talking about his latest conquest. He enjoys reminiscing about his crimes and that strange montage of shots at the end really symbolises his madness. (A friend of mine, who is a strange guy anyway, interpreted this as an attempted rape of Cathy, but that's just rubbish.) Overall, five bowlers from me.

Don't Look Behind You
by Alanna

The Avengers Dossier called this a "showcase" episode for Cathy, and it's easy to see why. It's the first I've seen (only my seventh that I've ever seen with Cathy) that truly features nearly every aspect.

I was constantly comparing this one with "The Joker" and came to the conclusion that it was comparing apples and oranges. "The Joker" could naturally achieve more, not being live, but "Don't Look..." is truly an example of making the most of what you have.

Ola Monsey-Chamberlain was far, far better in this one — simply nuts, not in league with the villain, which is something I found rather unbelievable in "The Joker" — and the delivery of the "bar sinister" line sounded almost like Diana Rigg. I'm in between on the "strange young man" — Emma delivered the "...break your arm" line better, in my opinion, but Cathy's version has plenty of fire.

I'm drawn on the villains. Although this one doesn't seem quite as crazy as "The Joker"'s mastermind, he evokes some real emotion from Cathy.

Which brings me to the starkest contrasts between the episodes: Emma's and Cathy's selective reactions. Although I don't quite agree with the Avengers Dossier that "Emma is not so much frightened by the strange goings-on as annoyed by them," she certainly isn't as scared as Cathy. "The Joker" is probably the creepier of the two, possibly because it wasn't live, but "Don't..." lives up in other areas — this one really shows another side of Cathy, with a line "You bought and sold people's lives!" where she's on the verge of tears, and her reaction to seeing Steed.

That last part in "Don't..." changed it from a pretty-good-but-not-as-good-as-"The Joker" episode into a very good one — I like real emotion in my characters!

And for the "Don't look..." vs. "Joker" (Which one is better?) question, I have only one answer: watch both!

Don't Look Behind You
by John Gizzi

When I had cleaners in my home, I went to my office after purchasing "Don't Look Behind You," which until now I had only known about through The Avengers Forever website.

Some comments...

1) Martin Goodman is much more frightening than Max. His whole story and the lighting make him more realistic. And Cathy is genuinely stunned to see him—Emma takes it in stride. One gets the impression she had feelings for him.

2) Ola is also weirder here than in "The Joker." But where we know she is Max's accomplice in the latter, it isn't clear here. The way she looks when Steed leaves and Cathy is alone with her, the obvious lies about when Sir Cavalier is coming back (and then Steed reveals Sir Cavalier is out of the country), and the way the Strange Young Man knows her, all make me think she's part of Martin's plot to drive Cathy nuts. What do you think?

3) The Strange Young Man is weirder and more realistic than the one in the remake. The fact that he knows the wires are cut and that he's killed by Martin convince me he isn't just a weird stranger but part of the plot as well. Also, he says more suggestive things to Cathy than his counterpart in "Joker" (remarking on her legs, calling her "Doll")—just more like a real weirdo.

Overall, one of Cathy's best. And the lighting and camera work were superb.

Don't Look Behind You
by Jez Thorpe

Due to the technical limitations of the Cathy Gale period, there is a definite "theatre" feel to all these episodes, and for this reason, "Don't Look Behind You" works incredibly well.

The live nature of the recording definitely adds to the adrenaline of the performances. I agree with Darren Burch when he says that it's unfair to compare the videotaped version with that of the filmed, but I would forgive any fluffed line or out-of-focus cameras in this version to appreciate the darkness of the script and how the characters are played. Artistically, Honor Blackman was so right to go with Cathy almost crying when she realises who is behind it all, but maybe she could have gone with it just a little further.

All in all, a fantastic hour of atmosphere with superlative performances.

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Page last modified: 5 May 2017.

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