Who Was That Man I Saw You With?
From the opening of this episode I instantly knew I was going to like it. The first shot of Zaroff stumbling along a street and then attacking the man who has gone to help bought to mind a film noir idea only in colour, and therefore Neo-Noir. But that feeling doesn't last long. The tense music from the outset to me suggests we are in for something special. The approach early on is much more like normal spy fiction, a feeling which lasts throughout the rest of the episode.
Starting with Tara blacked up and infiltrating the complex is rather good and effective; I was convinced this was a Soviet security establishment and that the twist was going to be that those in the opening scene were Russian traitors.
The Field Marshall early warning defense computer is something which predicted an actual attempt, the infamous Star Wars missile defense plan, and what brings this episode to reverence today is the Son of Star Wars Defense programme. This theme is also used in science fiction programmes such as Doctor Who ("The Armageddon Factor") and Blake's 7 ("Star One"). The building has a very hi-tech look to it as well.
The idea of a framing is good, especially set on the job Tara is supposed to do. A notable scene is when Tara receives instructions to get to a phone box to receive some top secret photos, whereupon she is framed for murder. This is classic spy fiction, which has adapted well into The Avengers format and is executed much better then in "The Nutshell" and "Hostage."
Dangerfield is every bit the Emma Peel villain: suave and sophisticated he echoes a Bond villain with foreign henchman to do his work for him. Alan Wheatley excels as Dangerfield and, although mostly confined to the background, he is extremely memorable. The fact he is is manipulating events from behind the scenes is great.
Another element which is good and could have been expanded upon is Steed and Mother's sudden distrust of Tara, which is a great plot device and makes sense as well. Fights-wise this is notable for Tara bashing up the guard in her flat and, later, a fight Dangerfield's boxing ring. William Marlowe is great as Fairfax, giving edge to a somewhat clichéd character—surely the secret service would just pop into another agent's flat in the middle of a case.
An aspect which could have been drawn on is that this could have been repositioned as the last episode of the series, the twist being Tara was a traitor, and that may even have given this season the praise it deserves.
A gem. Five Bowlers.
Who Was That Man I Saw You With?
4 Bowlers on 4. This is simply the best of all Tara King episodes.
First, it begins with a strange atmosphere in a very good set: a deserted street, with Zaroff being shot, and after that he gets up and shoots the man who comes to helping him. It's very effective and very mysterious... After the wonderful opening we see Tara in training, attempting to infiltrate the Field Marshall, and fails. Note that we didn't see her in training for a long time, since "The Forget-Me-Knot." It was very interesting to see her in training again. By the way, the Field Marshall is a beautiful set... What a very good beginning for an episode. Next scene, it begins with Tara coming back to her flat and Steed waiting for her: he asks, "three guesses," and Tara says, "Steed, Steed, Steed," and he replies, "right, right, right." What a marvelous moment between Tara and Steed—we didn't have the chance to see many moments like this one during the season. To finish, the little plan from Tara to demonstrate Steed how it's easy to frame somebody up is a very good scene. And the final fight is just hilarious, one of the best.
Now let's talk a little bit about the actors, who are just extraordinary, the finest performances since "Game." Alan MacNaughtan is just one of the best masterminds of all seasons. His character is very eccentric and very diabolical. "Most people's feet are so ugly—mine are so elegant."—a very good line from Mr. MacNaughtan. He has all the qualities of the masterminds of the Emma Peel era. Alan Browning gives a very good performance, too; you know Zaroff is a character that we just love to hate. And Patrick and Linda are exceptional together in the episode.
Also, there are some beautifully shot streets of London, and a little shot in the country where the telephone both is. To complete this "prefect episode" we have the chance for a great score from Howard Blake, especially when Steed gets to the telephone booth during Tara's plan to demonstrate framing Steed. The direction from Jeremy Burnham and the plot by Don Chaffey definitely make this episode a special one. It's just the tag that's a little disappointing; it's so ordinary after one of the most spectacular Avengers stories. But even with the disappointing tag, it's a brilliant episode and it's surely a must-see for every Avengers fan, in my humble opinion of course.
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