The Young Avenger
Have Guns - Will Haggle
Direction: Two out of five. As one can see from the production histories above, there is enough of a problem with the fact that this was essentially done over more than five months, with a big break in the middle, without having to try and identify the work of the different directors. What I will say is that Ray Austin's work is the finest of the three, culminating in some very nice shots of the exterior of Tara's flat when Steed arrives there. Booth did interiors of Tara's flat and Nsonga's place, and he shows more imagination in this than the stuff that was obviously filmed by Robert Asher in October 1967. A terrible mixed bag, really.
Plot: Two out of five. Donald James did write some very fine scripts in his time, but not for this programme. The Avengers was the most bizarre of the so-called Cult British TV shows of the 1960s, and James did write some very strange scripts for The Saint and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). However, despite the strangeness of the actual rifle theft, the story quickly turns into something incredibly standard, which then comes to a screeching halt for ten minutes at the end. Oh dear.
Original Music: None. They could not be bothered with the script, the continuity, or employing a decent director for the whole thing, so they have thus created another episode with totally recycled music. Good to see music from "The Superlative Seven" and "The Town of No Return" being used, but after a while this becomes the only interesting thing about this episode.
With Music From: "What the Butler Saw," "The Living Dead," "The Hidden Tiger," "Dead Man's Treasure," "Escape in Time," "The Fear Merchants," "The Town of No Return," "The Superlative Seven," "The Forget-Me-Knot."
Wittiness: One and a half out of five. James comes up with only two good lines in the entire script. Even the Steed/Tara interplay is utterly witless. Here are those lines. "I didn't know that you were still in touch with the president." "Never missed a Christmas card yet!" "Loyalty, amongst other things, was something they impressed upon me at Eton."
Action: Four out of five. They could not improve this episode in any other way, so they decided to pack it full of fights. There is an amazing scene where Tara leaves the Ballistics Centre, and shows that she is an amazing driver by outwitting the villains, and getting away from them. Then she has another fight in the warehouse. Steed has a great tussle with Conrad right at the end, but the strangeness of Crayford being hit by the masked villains beats all of these.
Cars/Sets/Locations: Three and a half out of five. Despite what it says in The Avengers Dossier about Conrad driving a Rolls-Royce in the sequence where the villains chase Tara in her Elan, it is just a Jaguar Mk2. But the main reason for the relatively high score is the Rolls-Royce Phantom V which is Adriana's car. It looks great parked next to Steed's Bentley. This was the last episode to be shot in which they used the Bentley, by the way. The sets are all right, if nothing better than average, but then there is the Invasion of the Earthmen outdoor set, plus a random hut, which really spoils a fairly elegant looking episode right at the end.
Introduction/Tag: Three out of five. The introduction, with the trampoline, the clown masks, and the security man who just wants to be hit by the robbers, is incredibly good, and just like the old Rigg stories in an inexplicable sort of way. Shame that was the end of the brilliance. The tag is a little dull, and a bit primitive, as if they could not be bothered any more, which is understandable.
Overall Impression: What an utter, complete and pointless waste of time this episode was! The plot is really far too simple, they should have elaborated on what the rifles were to be stolen for, and then it might have been good. This was not to be, however. Bryce, who did such a good job on the Cathy Gale episodes, clearly could not manage this any more, and when Clemens and Fennell took over, they had to trim a 90 minute episode to 60 minutes. The way that this episode just stops 40 minutes in leads me to suspect that the original would have had the slowest pacing ever experienced on the series. The direction is good in some places, and so are the cars, but the rest is not really worthy of Linda Thorson.
Rating: Four and a half out of ten.
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