Visitor Reviews
Page 45 of 164

The Little Wonders
by Terri

This loss of innocence tale is one of my favorite episodes from the Cathy Gale era. Elementary school, finger paintings, rocking horses, sleep-overs—the trappings of childhood pervade this story. Steed and Cathy play with a doll and have dinner at a candy shop. Yet their reversion to childhood is short-lived as they infiltrate a large, international crime syndicate run by purported "men-of-the-cloth." The innocent belief that men with religious titles and vestments are inherently trustworthy is shattered by these scoundrels. As the corrupt congregation meets in the classroom, our ascent to knowledge is symbolized by the "nicely developing" female figure Steed is sculpting.

Ironically, the Bishop of Winnipeg himself suffers a rude awakening. He achieved his position "in the traditional manner" and, though sick, he is still feared by his flock. Nevertheless, the Bishop's vision of organized crime as simply purveyors of vice is hopelessly naive. Dark forces take advantage of his innocence and use Bibliotek as a means of transmitting international secrets. The Bishop's realization that he is not the toughest kid on the block hits him very hard and the story ends with him confused and speechless.

The most famous loss of innocence, of course, occurs in the Steed/Gale relationship with their first and only on-screen kiss. Even though the situation is forced, Steed seems to enjoy the kiss much more than the circumstances would warrant—so much so that Cathy opens her eyes in the middle of it to give Steed one of her looks.

In 1963, it was shocking to associate religion with crime and school rooms with guns. Now, the image of a gun resting on a student's desk is no longer a surreal plot device; it is a sad reality. The sight of Sister Johnson mowing down "students" with an automatic weapon is terrifying in a way unforeseeable to television writers of the 1960s. Indeed, the difference in the way we view this episode today as compared to how it must have been viewed when it was made represents the most poignant loss of innocence of all.

The Little Wonders
by Terylene

To be honest, Reverend Steed's "ingenuous" face sells itself when he must creep into this singular "white-collar" criminal organization. After all, we should remember that the end justified the means to Steed. And the fact he plays a bogus mobster in this one isn't harmless, especially upon finding out he doesn't seem to need any further know-how to do his "new" job—even when Steed manages to deceive his "colleagues," but not the fat cats behind the organization.

As in many other Gale shows, the plot of "The Little Wonders" is quite complicated to the extent that some can't follow it when watching it for the first time. Nevertheless, a couple of its highly contrasting details are enough to make for a moment's reflection. The meeting of the "clergymen" takes place in an empty classroom of a certain elementary school. That these perverted characters dress in their habits and use their ecclesiastic ranks may not be a novelty these days, especially after tons of movies depicting the same thing. But the sight of such "priests" putting their guns on a silver plate before "negotiations" begin—in the best style of reunions of gangsters or cowboys—surrounded by writing desks, toys and posters, is a little frightening. The angelical atmosphere of an elementary school is drastically opposed to that of the ominous criminal band, and that subliminal message keeps on until the end of the episode, when the camera focuses on the guns still placed on the writing desks.

That's not all, though. Many viewers could conclude that the doll whose head is destroyed with a hammer, and for whose patch-up a fortune is asked, must carry some sort of vital information. Also, suspicion around Fingers is aroused when we see that, unlike Steed, he was miraculously uninjured after Sister Johnson's coldhearted machine gunning. That's when an important factor hidden behind the criminal maneuvers of Bibliotek is discovered—treason. Fingers, Beardmore and Sister Johnson are revealed as sophisticated villains who take advantage of the Bishop's weakness—and "integrity" for that matter—and make their own businesses at the expense of Bibliotek. A great alliance... pity they run into Mrs Gale and Reverend Steed, aka "Johnny the Horse"...

Once again, performances do more for the episode than the storyline itself. It's a pleasure to see Kenneth J. Warren again (yes, the frenetic Z.Z. von Schnerk of "Epic") in the role of an ambitious thug, who persuaded Steed to dispose of the Bishop. Another of the "clergymen" is a black actor, to whom no more than two or three lines were given. The cruelty of that sequence wherein a merciless Sister Johnson gunned down the "ministers" possibly make this female the most evil psychopathic woman ever to appear in The Avengers. Moreover, in view of such a wicked role, one might say Sister Johnson quite deserved Mrs Gale's bullet...

Even so, "The Little Wonders" still has something up the sleeve. And that is the celebrated kiss Steed gave Cathy in front of the criminals to suggest they were man and wife. Okay, the circumstances may have been forced, but the feeling I got out of this kiss is that Mr Macnee does not look uncomfortable at all giving it, and Miss Blackman does not seem unwilling to receive it...

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This website Copyright 1996-2017 David K. Smith. All Rights Reserved.
Page last modified: 5 May 2017.

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