The Young Avenger
Build a Better Mousetrap
Direction: Five out of five. Some say that the night cycling shots in this episode are terrible. This is not true. They are really rather effective, and there are not actually that many of them anyway. The best scenes which actually exist on the motorcycles are in the pre-title sequence, and these were filmed in the daytime. It is strange to see these as depictions of the pursuits of idle youth. There really is not the same call for bikers at that age now. Other than that, the acting is superb, and the cinematography in the barn in particular is excellent. Another good Peter Hammond episode.
Plot: Four out of five. An absolutely absurd idea, very much in the vein of "The Bird Who Knew Too Much," which might put some people off instantly, but since I do happen to like that one, it just confirms to me that Brian Clemens really could come up with decent episodes if he could be bothered to do so. Although seeming as if it deals with contemporary issues such as teenage rebellion (this time focussed around motorcycle gangs) and nuclear research, this is not the main thrust of the episode at all. It is very much a character based plot, and is all the better for it.
Music: Three out of five. For once when Cathy's motorcycle breaks down in the middle of nowhere, the music which accompanies it really is rather appropriate. It sounds as if she wants to kick the bike because it has broken down, and the dissonant percussion and brass (creating a musical sting) does seem to suit this type of frustration very well. Unfortunately, the rest of the score is very much the same as always.
Wittiness: Four out of five. This rating mainly comes from the scene where Steed and the innkeeper discuss hunting, and it is rather an effective contrast to the more serious side of the attempted romance between the innkeeper and Jessy. Steed's speech to the two sisters about the National Distrust is possibly one of the best pieces of comic writing ever to appear in the series, although the pretext for his visit is obviously far to thin to stand up to anything.
Action: Three out of five. This episode had much more potential for fights in it than actually exist, although the scuffle at the end of the second act really does make up for this apparent lack of action. It is possible that there were so many dance scenes and scenes with motorbikes in this episode that it was not thought necessary to put action scenes into it, which for some is a real shame.
Cars/Sets/Locations: Four out of five. Not so much cars this week as motorbikes, and I can imagine that some of the machinery on display here would be a delight for enthusiasts. Cathy has a Triumph motorcycle (987 CAA), but for the rest you would have to ask someone else, I am afraid. The interiors are particularly fine this week, especially the pub and the mill itself. The impression of vastness gained from the mill set is particularly impressive. Also, the amount of location filming in this episode is way above average.
Introduction/Tag: Four out of five. The idea that a spell will be cast upon the bikers if they refuse to keep away from the field is a real laugh, which induces just as many winces in the audience as it does amongst the bikers themselves. The tag, however, does not really exist. If you do want to count the thing at the end (with the punch-line "build a better mousetrap"), then by all means do, but it just seems like an event in order to get the episode to fit the title which Clemens came up with.
Overall Impression: There are many issues here. Witchcraft, nuclear power, teenage rebellion, cross country biking, environmentalism and loss of loved ones all rear their heads in what might actually seem to be a complete mixed back which would never work. However, it does work, and it works just about as well as any episode ever could. The performances of Athene Seyler and Nora Nicholson are just one element of it, but an important one nevertheless, but they tend to distract from other bits of this one. Perhaps there are just too many good ideas in this one, because many things which would make good elements of the story on their own have to be played down in the wake of sheer madness. But, nevertheless an Emma Peel episode before its time and worth every minute.
Rating: Eight and a half out of ten.
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