My Wildest Dream
Philip Levene's last script for The Avengers is a good one if not in the style one expects. It's much darker than his other episodes. Although the humour is still present, it isn't as prominent. I like the amusing if rather disturbing idea of an aggresso therapist, drugging patients into acting out the fantasy murder of someone that they loath until they are so overcome by the drugs that they actually carry out the murder for real. It's good the way that the real murders are blended with the fantasy murders so that you aren't sure of what you're actually watching.
Whilst Levene was leaving, Robert Fuest and Howard Blake were debuting as director and composer, respectively. Fuest does a marvellous job with the stabbings (it's understandable why the episode was held back for a later transmission time). If it's one thing I love about this episode it's its style. Robert Jones designs some fantastic sets like the Observation Room, Peregrine's Apartment and Slater's Office. They all help to make the episode that bit more interesting. The settings in themselves are nothing special but some thought has obviously gone into making them so. The cinematography is very good with excellent use of shadows. Howard Blake's score is very contemporary which really keeps the pace moving.
This episode features one of my favourite fight scenes from the whole series with Tara and Dyson in Slator's office. It's brilliantly shot, lit and choreographed. Tara can certainly pack a punch when the occasion calls for it. I don't think we ever saw Mrs. Peel involved in such a violent skirmish. I think that it is this episode that really shows Linda Thorson coming into her own. Her performance is such an improvement from "Invasion of the Earthmen." And she handles the humour really well.
If I had to put my finger on just one thing that goes against this episode, I would have to say it was the pacing, which can be dubious at times. But if like me you enjoy good visuals, then you should enjoy this episode.
My Wildest Dream
"Wow!" That's the one thing which crossed my mind while watching this episode. Partially because of the psychedelic direction (which wasn't helped by the beers I'd had beforehand, or the fact it was 1:00am), but because of the exhilarating pace of this fantastic episode. Okay, so the plot is fairly simple and does get a bit rushed towards the end, but everything about this episode is great.
If Alfred Hitchcock was to direct an episode, I imagine it would be something like this. We have some great directional pieces and some brutal murders, and Hitch would have had a field day with this.
From the very opening the tension mounts, with the great set of shots leading up the dream murder of Perrigrin. I particularly like the tracking shot from the fan across the room, and the subjective shot of being stabbed. The sudden traverse to reality is rather brisk and confusing, and could have come out of the prisoner.
Peter Vaughn is great as the crazy Dr Jaeger, and the idea of his agro-therapy clinic makes sense (well, to me). I love the way he coldly instructs his patients to kill their respective enemies. Also worthy of mention is Philip Madoc, who plays his part with real conviction, and we can almost feel his confusion as he tries to come to terms with reality. Unfortunately we don't get more of him—a pity. Also criminally brief is John Savident's appearance as Winthropp; we could have gotten a real eccentric performance, but what we get is limited.
For once we have a "real" person's perspective on Tara. The wonderfully lovesick Chilcott is bought to life by Edward Fox, who later went on to become the jackal. Maybe it's just me, but I can sympathise with his frustration over the girl of his dreams not being interested. But Chilcott is a bit of a drip, and just where is he looking when admiring Tara's scarf?
Again, the plot brings up some tensions when we begin to get the dream killings and realty mixed up, making the simple story quite difficult to follow. But Fuest makes his mark with THAT fight in the optics factory, with the camera flying all over the place, giving the feeling the fight is more viscous then it actually is, and then the masterpiece of the changing camera angle from Tara's point of view to her attacker's, as the tripod is used as a defense. Then—wham!—we have a short but sweet car chase.
There are many gems in this episode, especially when Dr Jaeger and Steed meet. I just love the bit where Steed tries to find out why he thinks he's a horse. Pure bliss. Susan Travers is good Dr Jaeger's assistant, bringing some believability with her switch from good to bad. I felt the conclusion is a bit rushed, and the fight is a short, scrappy affair, not worthy of Venus, let alone Tara. And why does Tara water her plants with a teapot?
Four and a half Bowlers.
materials copyrighted per their respective copyright holders.