This is another favorite episode of the Tara King series. Mind you, I did like the Diana Rigg series, too. "Fog" is good in many ways. The Avengers used the Jack The Ripper murders for this episode and to good effect. The humor is as always very good between Steed, Mother and Tara. The story takes the viewer through a good suspense episode and Steed is trying to safe the world from a member of the Gaslight Ghoul club.
The atmosphere of this episode is excellent in that it keeps the fog as a background while Steed and Tara are investigating through narrow streets and old buildings and the like. The villain's face is not seen until Steed discovers which person is responsible for the Gaslight murders, and the villain is basing the murders on the the Gaslight Ghoul right up until the end. The action sequences are also very good between the villain and Steed. The sword fight is very well executed here.
I think that Tara and Steed were not used to the full in
this episode and this was a pity. Tara did make a few entries but they were weak in this
episode. The humor between Mother and our two heroes was the best and Mother was as always
turning up in the oddest of places. The car in which Mother was sitting was very different
and all I can say about it is that it looked like something out of Star Wars,
which shows that for its day The Avengers was ahead of its time in terms of
action, characters, and plots. But this episode was the best in terms of humor.
I can't watch this episode without thinking of a truly classic Doctor Who story called "The Talons of Weng-Chiang" because part of the premise is the same: a Jack-the-Ripper-style murderer and (seemingly, in this case) Victorian London. I watched this episode thinking, "am I watching the right channel?" But it soon became obvious it was The Avengers.
The Victorian atmosphere is set quite well and it's a missed opportunity to have a John Steed past life style story. Mother is given a good role while he rabbits on about a gaslight ghoul murder. I haven't spotted David Swift, though.
There is a good scene in which a foreign delegate goes to Steed's flat: Tara answers and he says, "Goodbye" and she shuts the door on him. Even my sister laughed at that. Pasty Byrne gives an audition for her Doctor Who role in "Talons" and is excellent here despite selling lucky white feathers.
Frequent complaints about this episode suggest the villain has no motivation. Yes, he does: he wants England to be a major power.
Most people regard this episode to be one of the worst Tara King episode ever made and, indeed, the worst Avengers episode ever made. But I sort of like it... the way it plays up to the stereotypical view of Jack the ripper... the wonderful suspense of the murders and principally Victorian London.
It is always funny to hear foreigners complain about "ze English vezzer" even if we think it is quite good at the time! The remark made by one of the foreign dignitaries at the start made me laugh-"Has a steam pipe broken?" The set is quite strange—how can you make London look so sinister and evil, even if it is the 60s? But can we honestly say things have changed... maybe.
The Gaslight Ghoul Club is a great laugh, seeing Steed looking so confused as he wanders into room upon room full of Gaslight Ghoul impersonators, and probably thinking "this is going to be a harder case to solve than I first thought..."
The fight scene at the end is brilliant, as it is a nice change to see Steed fight with a sword rather than with his usual bowler and brolly. I think the tag is rather weak—leaving the front door open could not possibly let in that much fog.
This is one of those episodes that people either love or hate.
I'm in the "love" camp. One of the great things about The Avengers is that it is so varied. "Fog" is like some bizarre dream. The type of streets featured disappeared during the Second World War, but that doesn't matter to me as I love them and they are part of the charm of this episode. I love episodes with a strong atmosphere and they don't come much stronger than "Fog." Of course there is no real plot but I find it just so much fun to view.
The script by Jeremy Burnham is full of little touches that just bring it alive for me. Like the incident when Tara open Steed's front door to be confronted with "Goodbye" from the foreign delegate and then she replies "Goodbye" and goes to shut the door. The ideas are so bold and lively, like the incidental characters—the "Lucky White Feather" Lady and the Blind Man. No other series would have gotten away with this, but The Avengers dares to and does.
John Hough's direction is, as always, brilliant. He really should have been used more often. He succeeds in bringing out the hokey qualities perfectly. The balance between serious and ridiculous is just right. There are so many memorable images—the Blind Man turning up at so many moments, the Ghoul's boots on the cobbles, the knife sharpener. Then there's the shot of Sir Geoffrey Armstrong lunging at Steed viewed from above.
The set design is marvellous if totally unrealistic. The club headquarters is, in my opinion, one of the best sets that Robert Jones ever designed for the show. Laurie Johnson's music really matches the tone of the episode. The performances are all just right within the confines of the episode. You can tell that Linda Thorson is really enjoying herself, even if the episode doesn't present Tara in a very dominating light. There are no fights to speak of, but the final confrontation with Steed deflecting the flying swords is highly amusing—especially as they all narrowly miss hitting Tara.
Absolutely brilliant Avengers Madness. Four out of five bowlers (loses a point for the awful tag scene).
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