The Young Avenger
Direction: Five out of five. Charles Crichton only ever did five Avengers episodes, and of those only one is not absolutely outstanding. By 1968, when he did his last two, he had really gone back to producing episodes which had a film-like quality to them, because of the amazing cinematography blended with some of the strangest and most effective camera angles ever seen. Only Robert Fuest could do film better in this season.
Plot: Four out of five. I can even see this episode with Diana Rigg in it, which is a compliment both to Clemens, for coming up with such an original idea for it, and Harris who hardly ever wrote for the series, but produced some incredible work when he did. With Christopher Lee backing up the image of the old-fashioned villain with his immense presence and threatening voice, one is never sure who is bluffing whom, which is utterly brilliant. Well done to come up with such an idea so late in the series.
Original Music: Four out of five. I could imagine that this episode would still have been excellent if the music had been recycled, as it was in so many other episodes, but Johnson does give us a rather good score and theme for this episode, something which most of the Emma Peel episodes had. The sparing use of one or two of the old themes is also very effective here. A great job.
Wittiness: Two out of five. The direction is certainly up to the standard of "Death at Bargain Prices," but it is unfortunate that the writing half did not perform as well as in the first time that this combination worked together. That said, this episode does have a wonderful balance between silly, eccentric humour, as seen in the killings of the informers, and the seriousness of the interrogations themselves. There is one good line. "Hello, Mother? I'm at Minnow's place and I don't like it. No, Mother, it's got nothing to do with the colour of the walls."
Action: Three out of five. A slightly disappointing score, given the potential of having all those military men waiting around in the interrogation centre, and then putting them against Steed. However, Tara does get a chance to have a tussle with the informers' assassin, and then at the end with at least some of the people in the centre.
Cars/Sets/Locations: Three and a half out of five. For some reason, the quarry that appears in "The Fear Merchants" and also again in "Thingumajig" is here, where Izzy Pound is practising his Incredible Marching Sound. In some ways, this rather defeats the whole point of having so many locations, and also the deaths (or attempted assassinations) of the other informers all happen in the same park. Roy Caspar does have an Austin 3-Litre, so at least there is something good on the car front. The sets are above average too, with a special mention being that telephone box.
Introduction/Tag: Four out of five. The visit to the dentist's is something that everyone fears, and this is played on to good effect here, when Caspar is taken inside to have something done, and he ends up under the hot lights of the interrogators. It is a little clichéd, but then it is supposed to to have the full effect. It is a shame that the tag does not live up to its initial promise.
Overall Impression: Just out of the bottom of the top twenty-five list, but undoubtedly number 7 on the Tara King list, this episode seems to have what so many others at this late stage lack, a decent plot. The viewer is first made suspicious by the fact that Christopher Lee is the villain, and then it seems that he is not, whilst all the time the informers are being shot. The direction, music and guest star performances are so good that it makes one wonder why the others could not all have been like this.
Rating: Eight out of ten.
materials copyrighted per their respective copyright holders.