The GLG Reports
Page 47 of 67

False Witness
By Grant L. Goggans

"Special delivery, Lane. Sir Joseph Tarleton. Two pints, please." Well, any episode that features Tara taking a milk bath can't be all bad. Probably Jeremy Burnham's best script for the series, this does have some extremely good flourishes, not the least of which is Charles Crichton's fantastic direction, with a lot of location work around London. They even seem to visit The Prisoner's underground car park! It also features one of the great Avengers scenes, in which Steed drives Melville to a secluded spot in the forest and gives the traitor apparent one of the most vicious punches ever thrown on television. Since we've seen so little of Steed's interdepartmental workings until now, it comes as a real revelation, and Patrick Macnee, who honestly did not get the chance to act angry in the series that often, does a great job with it. On the other, larger, hand, though, this episode suffers from the great Tara season malady of "obvious mystery syndrome." This is yet another episode that tries to conceal the common thread that ties the lying witnesses together, but that thread is woefully obvious. Even Penman's dog gets involved. Then it degenerates into unfunny comedy as Tara can't stop herself lying ("This is very unimportant!") and other characters start losing their truth facilities thanks to the drug. There's also inconsistencies in how the drug works, as Sir Joseph wraps up a laundry list of lies with a truthful answer. By the time Sykes locks Tara in a butter churn to turn her into a pat of butter (not far removed from Mr. Freeze's frosty freezie machine), the fabulous surface trappings have lost all their charm, and Batman never sank as low as the eye-rolling result of Tara's trap. In short, it's a good thing the director and the actors did such a splendid job this week, or this really would have been a waste of time.

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