Homicide and Old Lace
People do not like this. When watching Homicide, you can see why. But, it is a very good episode. Although it would be preferable to have the normal episode, (they did two-parters with "Hot Snow" and "K is for Kill"), the way the editors reworked this was quite intriguing.
The suspense is very good in the teaser. The two old ladies wanting to kill Mother leaves us with quite an interesting thought. Although the birthday idea is not the best, the story gives us an interesting view on other peoples' perspectives. (Think about it—when have you ever seen a movie with the heroes going back to see the bystanders?)
The episode leaves a lot to be desired, however. One of the worst additions was "Never, Never Say Die." Although the others weren't as bad, the Stone fight was unfortunate. Unnecessary.
The entire thing is unnecessary. It is very good, however, and it shines as a very good rework and a clever plot. (It would be interesting to have some action at the party, though!)
Homicide and Old Lace
This is supposed to be the worst episode in the Avengers canon. And why not? It took me a few days to even get up the courage to pull the Canal VHS out of my closet and even look at this one again.
Actually I found it wasn't as horrifically inane as I remembered from previous viewings—it's just plain terrible, a disappointment from the overall quality of the series. The chief "fun" comes at seeing the way the Clemens-Fennell production team makes the Bryce team's episode look even worse than if it had been shown without the "gag" aspects—playing action scenes totally for laughs, for instance, with the use of a over-melodramatic soundtrack. It must have seemed too good to resist for Brian Clemens to lampoon this leftover and unused episode. It also must have afforded "The Avengers" two principal actors some time off while Patrick Newell carried the load for a few days.
The "best" bits of the show involve portions of the framing device: Mother's two aunties—who have read and seen far too many spy stories already—it in their cozy and overstuffed parlor by a roaring fire and listen to their visiting nephew (Mother) tell a "real" spy story. When his story—a goofy tale of stealing Britain's art treasures during a fake national emergency sends them to a nondescript warehouse for safe keeping—becomes too implausible for the ladies, Aunt Georgina or the other one points out the defects of logic in the story. "I've seen Tara. She is a brunette. Why is Tara now a blonde?" or "Why does Steed make that phone call to help Intercrime?" or disparaging comments like "Miss Agatha Christie or Mr. Stanley Gardner wouldn't leave such holes in their plots,", et al. There's a bit of that old Ealing Studio classic, The Ladykillers (1955) and, of course, the classic play Arsenic and Old Lace in this story of dotty old ladies and foul deeds, but, alas, just a tiny bit.
Newell's narration is fun up to a point: The Avengers almost always had an element of satire in its depiction of standard suspense/espionage elements. But it never had to stoop so low as to crib together sundry old episodes together to make its point that this was tongue in cheek fun. Newel's deliberately overdramatic intonations and his pompous style lend some entertaining elements to the proceedings. For that, the show deserves it's half-bowler rating.
As for Patrick Macnee's brief appearance at the tag scene, and the joke about Rhonda speaking, one can only be glad that the end is in sight.
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