The Young Avenger
Page 23 of 110

Mandrake
By Joseph A.P. Lloyd

Direction: Four out of five. Bill Bain, who recorded this episode not long after "Dressed to Kill," shows once again that he is worthy of his place on the top ten directors list. Scenes such as the fight, Steed's appearance at the houseboat and his subsequent breaking into the doctor's surgery, accompanied by a good score, really do feel very well done.

Plot: Four and a half out of five. The second time I watched this, the plot seemed even better than before, and the slow pacing that I had thought was there before did not seem so obvious. For once, the putting of arsenic into the poison, and then having it present in the natural soil of Cornwall, is about as good as any plot gets in this series. It is both fantastic and believable at the same time, which is why it succeeds to such an extent.

Music: Four out of five. Dankworth has not composed any new music for this episode, but rather than a "let's see where we can fit this theme in competition," which all the other episodes seem to be in this season, he really chooses it carefully, so it complements the action exactly.

Wittiness: Four out of five. Marshall shows his talent, which was about to culminate in about a year with "Dial a Deadly Number." The scenes between Annette Andre and Patrick Macnee are wonderful (I will always remember her in The Saint episode "To Kill a Saint"), but the best line is when Cathy is in her flat, showing photographs to Steed. "Don't do that, you make me feel like a projectionist." "Oh, I don't know. Montgomery always used to."

Action: Five out of five. There might be only one in this episode, apart from a brief scuffle between Steed and a victim's father in his houseboat, but what a fight! No matter that it inevitably went a bit wrong: just the fact that Cathy Gale could beat a huge wrestler like Jackie Pallo shows how women were becoming accepted as the decade went along.

Cars/Sets/Locations: Two out of five. Most of the points here go to the doctor's surgery set, which seems better set up than most of the other episode's sets, this does have very poor studio filming. The graveyard set would probably have fallen down if Cathy had thrown Sexton into any other place apart from the open grave, for example.

Introduction: Two and a half out of five. This is the weak point of the episode, for we see Steed before the title screen, and then he appears in the next scene as well. It is a bit inexplicable, and I must say, not what I would associate with the series. The Undertakers has a much better introduction.

Overall Impression: I was very hard on this episode the first time I saw it, mainly because I did not listen carefully enough to the sparkling script, which definitely sets Marshall up for "Dial a Deadly Number," the series' best ever script. Philip Locke and John Le Mesurier are totally wonderful as the pair of villains, and they add a touch of eccentricity too. The vicar is splendid too. The pacing is not as suspect as I had first thought, certainly no worse than "The Golden Eggs." The fight in the middle must not be missed!

Rating: Seven and a half out of ten.

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