While I agree with David that this is a superb Steed/Gale episode, that bloody clicking noise that went on while they were in the main section of the complex about put me up the wall. The arrest and working over of Steed was rather creepy; you just know this stuff happens all the time to the baddies, but not to Steed. While I have only seen six other episodes of the Gale/Steed partnership, I do give this a 9 out of 10 for action, suspense, and wit.
Oh boy... you have to be kidding. Another recommendation from TAF which took me into a land of old hat. Predictable storyline, gaping plot holes, filmed without imagination or humour.
The trouble with this one starts in the first minute. How come the young lady escapologist doesn't know about the security cameras? And what a way for her to recognise that an alarm has gone off — the CCTV camera wiggles! Technology gone mad, eh?
Sercond minute: why doesn't Mrs Gale think it's odd that she's been told to take Steed to a top secret establishment, and that she's not to tell Steed himself until he gets the call?
How likely does she think it is that an ordinary member of the public would be let into the highest security building in the country? Let alone be told about something that only thirty others even know exists? Does the explanation given by DISCO (oh, the sixties acronyms...) sound a bit odd — "Oh, well, it can't be helped." Eh?
As for them working out how the escapologist got in — well, I wonder? Could it have been the air vents? And, "I checked, apparently there is an air vent for use in an emergency situation when the government is removed here, it goes right up to an open vent on the Embankment." Be afraid, Mr Blair, be very afraid...
What kind of explanation is that? During a national emergency they'll be letting the fresh air in from the nuked streets of central London (right next to the Houses of Parliament too, how convenient)? And how come they created all those very thorough, very rigorously shown security checks, and no-one had thought of the classic — must have come in through the air vent! Damn, didn't think anyone would try that!
The final insult to the security of the land is that the traitor being smoked out gets his secretary to make the vital calls as "personal calls" right under the nose of the good old British squaddie, a man trained to spot a security breach from... some distance very near him.
That it is so unlikely takes the edge right off the James Bond cold war paranoia, the unlikely nature of it being not so much accidental as criminally thick. If it were unreal in an Avengers way, it would work. If it were sharply thought-through like a 007, it would work. This feeble mishmash is let down even further by so many fluffed and gabbled lines like there were too many of them. Check Pat Haines corpsing when she forgets hers... It has the unmistakable look of something that's badly under-rehearsed. The final line (how I guffawed) and Honor Blackman's look of relief born of despair say much more than I can here.
So this is the best Mrs Gale story? "The Wringer" covers similar government technology territory much more successfully. As does "The Charmers," with the cold war. "Warlock" and "Second Sight" are visual miracles considering the limitations. "Brief for Murder" is a good quirky thriller, as is "Build a Better Mousetrap" And "Don't Look Behind You" is a real work of art, the one story you could show to someone who didn't give two hoots about The Avengers, and show them how it's done.
Is the US taste for The Avengers a kind of 007 by proxy pleasure? It's something quite different over here.
I agree with David much more than with Andrew's preceding review. Anyone who cares that much about plausibility and logic shouldn't be watching either The Avengers or James Bond. I've said it before, but I'll say it again, anyone who thinks any Avengers episode is logically watertight or plausible hasn't thought about it enough.
What's worse is that Andrew claims the episode is without humour when it's obvious to me that it's a satire about our government's hubris and incompetence. It's mocking the real-life hope that the government could survive in underground bunkers while a nuclear war reduced the rest of the population to cinders. It mocks the technology used to protect secrets and suggests that the human element is the important thing (a similar message to "The House That Jack Built"). The themes of treachery and incompetent security in the heart of the secret state were very topical when "The Nutshell" was made, just months after the exposure of Kim Philby as a Soviet agent.
Most of the Cathy Gale episodes I've seen have been disappointments to me. They take too long to set up the situation, have too much explanation for the audience, too little action, too little humour and, to quote an IMDB reviewer, "incredibly crappy production values" which I find it hard to see past, try as I might. "The Nutshell" has noticeably better production values than other Cathy Gale episodes, a twisty plot that zips along, political sophistication and, not to be forgotten, the incredible sexiness of Elin the enemy agent. It may not be the best Cathy Gale episode of all, but it's one of them. As a political commentary, it beats anything from the Emma Peel era hands down.
Definitely worth four bowlers.
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