The Young Avenger
Page 22 of 110

The Wringer
By Joseph A.P. Lloyd

Direction: Four out of five. This episode needs five-star direction for it to succeed. Don Leaver delivers a creditable performance, but this is not as good a job as Peter Hammond could have done on it. This does not suggest that Hammond would have improved it, but to say that some of his episodes have far better direction even than this one, which is one of Don Leaver's very best in his long directing career. The scenes at the unit are some of the most disturbing ever seen in the series.

Plot: Five out of five. Martin Woodhouse, whilst being one of the most intelligent people ever to work on the series, also produced some of its very strangest scripts. Here, the strange aspect is taken to the limit, and it makes for one of the very best episodes of the season. However realistic the actual torture might be, it seems real enough here, and this alone, which is the pretext for the episode, manages to carry it through the whole 50 minutes. A truly excellent idea, it might well be the best of the series.

Music: Four out of five. Music is notable for its absence throughout the episode, and it is welcome that in this, possibly the most serious of stories ever attempted by the production team, it features only very seldom. At the end, there is the familiar fight scene music as Steed and Cathy escape through the tunnel, but throughout the rest of the episode, it has not appeared at all, which gives a very haunting atmosphere, and one which is only alleviated by the swishy sound effects.

Wittiness: Two out of five. It is a shame that Hal and Steed are not allowed to have any more dialogue than the brief amount which is afforded to them at the Fire Post. The best line in this episode comes in practically the second scene, however, when Charles asks Steed why he is late. It is not very far to the office, only a mile and a half. Charles: "You should try walking." Steed: "I did."

Action: Three out of five. There is a very confused excuse for a fight at the end of this episode, and it culminates in an incredible escape involving a door which refuses to open, possibly one of the quirks of being able to film in such way. Apart from that, the psychological torment which Steed suffers in this episode is rather disturbing because the lack of fights is only balanced by this.

Cars/Sets/Locations: Two out of five. There is a bit of a problem with the locations in this episode. Despite the best efforts of the production crew, the sets do end up looking as if they have been taken from Playschool. However, the actual interrogation set is a work of genius. The strangely eerie seashore screen, which traditionally has exerted a calming influence on patients seems here only to worsen Steed's mood. It is a real shame that other parts of the set, most notably that door, and that air duct are not up to scratch. The fire tower also looks as if it will not stand up to very much.

Introduction/Tag: Four out of five. It is very easy to forget the introductory sequence to this episode, which possibly might be its merit. Spies go to the interrogation facility in order to forget things, and from the expression on Hal Anderson's face, it looks like he has even probably forgotten who he is. The tag is not worthy of note, however, which prevents this from getting five in this category.

Overall Impression: There are strong performances from Gerald Sim, Paul Whitsun- Jones and Peter Sallis in this episode. However, once again Terence Lodge provides just the right mixture of strangeness and sophistication for his role, as he did equally well in "Man With Two Shadows." Apparently Don Leaver used to frequent jazz clubs at the time when they were making this episode, and "The Wringer" was a product of these visits. It is easy to see that the influences exerted on the directors from outside the series stayed with them whilst they were on the job, and I think that Mike Myers must have watched this episode at some point to get his Austin Powers character. Possibly one of the most harrowing episodes ever produced.

Rating: Nine out of ten.

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Page last modified: 5 May 2017.

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