The Young Avenger
Death of a Batman
Direction: Two out of five. There is only one director who is the utter antithesis of Peter Hammond in the second and third series, and that is Kim Mills. Every time Mills tries to be Hammond-esque and introduce some extraordinary camera angles or some fast pacing into the episode, the join is instantly noticeable, whereas with Hammond, there might be some standard shots sometimes, but these blend seamlessly into the inexplicable in a harmonious whole. It is a shame that the direction cannot match the script.
Plot: Four out of five. Although I can sense shades of "Dial a Deadly Number" in the stock market theme of this story, this is a far earlier episode, and thus the interest that Marshall has in the financial field is even better explained. The very idea that something so simple as getting the draughtsman to know which share certificates are being given to whom so that someone can play the market is fantastic and believable at the same time. A good one for anyone who has ever studied economics.
Wittiness: Five out of five. Marshall's script is bettered only by his very own "Dial a Deadly Number" of the next season, and thus is the best scripted episode of the Cathy Gale era. There are plenty of very good lines in the episode, and just a few of my favourites are below here. For evidence of why this episode makes such a high claim for itself, just watch it. "You're an optimist." "That's why I'm a banker." "That's what comes of biting your fingernails."
Music: Two out of five. The old favourite Dankworth themes make a very unwelcome and particularly intrusive return in this episode, particularly when Steed faces Lady Cynthia's bodyguard in her flower shop. I am very glad to say that the episode does not sink to one because he wisely spares us the indignity of having to hear one of those themes in the pre-title scene.
Action: Four out of five. The encounter with the huge bodyguard in Cynthia's flower shop might end with the old cliché of the vase being broken on the opponent's head, and might be plagued by some terrible direction and a lack of a microphone at the crucial stage makes the whole thing seem bad. However, despite Cathy entering a room at some stage, and then having to close the door three times, her fight with Cowper is adequate.
Introduction: Three out of five. I fear that the cliché about Wrightson dying in his bed with his will lying around, as well as his worldly possessions is a bit too much, even for 1963. The emotion seems false, as does the gratuitous stormy weather, but then we pan to the photographs, and it is a genuine surprise to see Steed as the CO. An average start.
Cars/Sets/Locations: One out of five. This time, the sets, designed by the usually reliable Paul Bernard, are so badly constructed that it takes Cathy three attempts to close a door, which then flies open again on her. I think this is an accurate reflection of the other two things in this category as well.
Overall Impression: Despite the utterly appalling sets and the clichéd introduction, it is well worth sitting through this episode in order to arrive at the parts which are simply brilliant. One is Steed convincing Lady Cynthia that they have met at a party before, and another is him reading through magazines with Cathy in order to find her. This is indeed an episode of contrasts, no more so marked than when Marshall provides us with a simply incredible script and it is produced with some of the worst direction I have ever seen from Kim Mills. Still, both Andre Morrell and Philip Madoc are so good that it has to have a good score, and it thus gets one.
Rating: Eight out of ten.
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