The GLG Reports
Page 43 of 67

By Grant L. Goggans

"Excellent! He's really entering into the spirit of the thing!" There's a school of thought that "Game" is one of the very best Avengers, and that it's one of the most unique and original ideas of the show. Actually, while it's a pretty good entry for this season, it's nowhere near the program's peak, and the story is amazingly unoriginal. Richard Harris, who had done season five's Batman parody "The Winged Avenger," is really just rewriting the Batman story that introduced David Wayne's Mad Hatter, "The Thirteenth Hat"/"Batman Stands Pat." In that story, Mad Hatter was getting revenge on the 12 people who convicted him, and here Bristow, the former Sgt. Edmund (and not Edwards as some sources call him), is going after the six who court-martialed him. The Mad Hatter uses lethal hats specific to his targets' professions, Bristow, who is referred to as "The Games King," uses lethal games specific to his targets' professions, and so on. Compounding these and other structural similarities, Steed and Tara even do this outrageous choreographed, overly gymnastic fight routine, even standing back to back and punching at the same instant. Their foes in the fight are six never-speaking henchmen dressed in "dice" jumpsuits, one with one dot on his chest, another with two dots, and so on. It's as much a Batman spoof as "The Winged Avenger," but oddly nobody ever calls it. Still, it's mostly entertaining and the lethal games are very fun. This was the second episode directed by Robert Fuest ("My Wildest Dream," transmitted much later in the season, was his first), and his flair is certainly evident. When the first body is discovered on a swing set, Fuest places the camera in the swing next to the body, and ensures both swings are moving at different speeds for a macabre little effect. There's an amazing moment after Brigadier Wishforth-Brown is killed by toy soldiers at his game, and as he drops out of sight, we hear "Taps" and the camera focuses on a bugler soldier in the extreme foreground of the board. Fuest's only fumble is an inept moment of comedy when the manager of a jigsaw store completes a puzzle in seconds, through the use of sped-up film. Most of the games are really clever, with the exception of the "wordsmith" game, in which an eminent scholar can't unscramble a very simple word... or maybe I just do the Jumble puzzle in the paper too much. Bristow's a memorable villain, and would have been a good choice for a recurring foe, if The Avengers was the sort of show to do that sort of thing.

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