Visitor Reviews
Page 30 of 164

Brief for Murder
by Pablo Alonso

This was first episode of the Cathy Gale era written by Brian Clemens, and it shows. It would have been more suitable for a remake on the Emma Peel era than "Death of a Great Dane." The plot, where Steed infiltrates into the Lakin brothers, is classic fourth season; indeed, it has some connections with two Emma Peel episodes, "The Murder Market" (Steed pretends he killed his partner), and "The Fear Merchants" (he asks for expert help to get rid of a woman).

John Laurie and Harold Scott make two lawyers who take all their experience the wrong way; they are unscrupulous (well, they are lawyers, aren't they?—just a joke) although deeply in love with their profession. Laurie's performance reminds a bit of his character of Sir James on the aforementioned "Death of a Great Dane," especially at the end where you see a poor old man whose dirty game has come to the end. Besides, with the Lakin Bros. being excessively happy on the trial scenes, the only disappointment for me is the end, which is not executed with the clarity of the rest of the episode. But it doesn't matter. This is a great Cathy Gale episode.

Brief for Murder
by Darren A. Burch

I had a feeling that I was going to love this. And, joy of all joy, I did—it's absolutely brilliant. I don't hesitate to say that it is Brian Clemens' best script for The Avengers. Unlike some of his later work, it doesn't have that slot-filler feel to it. It's very intelligently written, and you can tell that he put some real effort into getting it right. The law details were probably due to script editor Richard Bates' influence. The way that Clemens writes the relationship between Steed and Cathy is brilliant. There is a real spark in their conversation. The whole build-up of Steed shooting Cathy is excellent, really confusing the audience until that marvelous revelation of Mrs. Gale sitting up in the visitors gallery complete with black wig and sunglasses.

The way that the script is brought to screen is masterly, but then I would say that, as it's directed by Peter Hammond. There are just countless moments when you know that this is Hammond's show. When Steed first pays a visit to the Lakin brothers, we have that wonder moment of choreography as the businessmen walk back and forth until we see Steed. It works so well with the music. I love all those wonderful low angles in the Yoga establishment. Those scenes just scream sixties and have a wonderful surreal quality to them. The give-away that this is Hammond's hour comes from his famed mirror shots. The exterior filming as Cathy is shot by Steed and falls into the river is very effective. And another thing, the stock music chosen is much better than normal. Some pieces almost sound like Laurie Johnson. There is an atmosphere that is so Avenger-esque, as we would come to know it, but hadn't really been seen before. "Build a Better Mousetrap" is often hailed as the first time we see Brian Clemens' Avengers but I disagree and say that it is definitely here that it rears its beautiful head.

There are some brilliant eccentrics on display. Miss Prim is brilliantly played as an "off the planet" individual. John Laurie's work has always entertained me and his performance here is no exception. I love the way that he plays the more sinister of the brothers, and we have no doubt that he is the real mastermind behind the operation. Harold Scott is suitably batty as Miles. Helen Lindsay as Barbara Kingston gives a very intelligent performance. It's interesting to see Fred Ferris pop up again as a policeman (a role he last took in "Bullseye"); I wonder if he is the same inspector.

I love the set design. The courtroom is obviously the Old Bailey on a budget but it serves its purpose. The Yoga establishment, the Lakin Brothers office and surrounding streets really stand out—the Yoga establishment for its big mirrors and bizarre wall painting, and the offices for their old London charm. There is something almost Dickensian about them.

If there's one thing that nags me about this episode, it's the timing of the final scenes. The Lakins return from the office too quickly for my liking, but this is a minor quibble. I don't hesitate to give this five out of five.

Brief for Murder
by James Harvey

Plot: Because I'm really used to reviewing Emma Peel episodes, it makes it quite tricky to sum up a Cathy Gale. Even so, I do still like the early episodes and this one is one of my definite favourites. The plot is very like one of an early sixties BBC drama. The atmosphere expressed in this story makes it easy and enjoyable to watch. I particularly like the twist in the tale as Cathy turns up in the courtroom when she's just been murdered by Steed! Cathy and Steed are great in this one and the two crooked lawyers (Harold Scott and John Laurie) really give the episode a comic feel to it.

My Ratings: This episode comes first in my Cathy Gale top ten, and I'd give it an 8/10 score (4 bowlers). So, if you're thinking of watching this episode for the first time I hope my review has been helpful.

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Page last modified: 5 May 2017.

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