The Young Avenger
Direction: Five out of five. One of the very best episodes in terms of direction, this one really is a treat to watch in terms of visuals. From the very start in the car park (which seems exactly the same one as was used in The Prisoner, "Who Was That Man I Saw You With?" and "Requiem"), it is clear that the direction is superior even to the majority of episodes this season. This is some achievement with Robert Fuest and Cliff Owen both providing film-quality cinematography in their respective episodes, but since Crichton was more a film director than a television director, it certainly shows.
Plot: Three and a half out of five. If there is a problem with this episode, it is that the milky ending does not at all fit well with the rather more serious tone of the start. It is very hard to see why Burnham chose such a straightforward start, albeit a highly effective one, and then ended it much like an episode of the Emma Peel fifth season. The relation does not stop there, since the whole ending is carried out in a way which suggests far more of Batman than even the fifth season would with "The Winged Avenger." It is still good fun, however.
Original Music: Three out of five. This episode takes the theory that there should be some music repeated from earlier episodes in order that it should actually qualify as a Tara King episode a little bit too far. Here, it actually seems to involve transposing an entire score from a previous episode in the season, albeit a very good one, and merely placing it into the appropriate places in this episode. I fear that this is not a particularly good way to produce interest in the music.
With Music From: "The Curious Case of the Countless Clues" (the entire score!).
Wittiness: Three out of five. "It's not in the milk." The whole second half of this episode should be commended for just being very funny indeed. Once the whole lying thing has been discovered, the jokes can really start, and it would take too long to write down everything which is said and is amusing about the script. Special mention to "This is really unimportant!"
Action: Four out of five. It must have become incredibly smelly in the studio after Tara's fight in the milk bath! How Steed actually manages to keep his suit clean throughout his entire visit to the milk factory is also another mystery. The butter machine, although not itself involved in the fight, also merits a mention. Possibly one of the most "amusing deaths" ever seen! It was worth the seriousness of things like Steed punching Melville in the wood for the end!
Cars/Sets/Locations: Four and a half out of five. It is a shame that Plummer's flat looks ever so patently fake because the rest of the episode gets full marks in this category. There is a lovely Rolls Royce Phantom V for Lord Edgefield, and Tara chasing that milk float is hilarious. But the pièce de resistance has to be Mother's London bus, because those shots on the top deck do look as if they were actually filmed on a bus driving around. How did they fit all their things into it? The dairy set is also one of those Robert Jones masterpieces (cf. "Observation" in "My Wildest Dream").
Introduction/Tag: Three and a half out of five. The pre-title gets a resounding five out of five. Quite possibly the very best introduction of the entire series, the direction, lighting and cinematography in this are absolutely first class. It is hard to establish just what is going on, as in the very best episodes, and also it puts us straight into the plot. The tag leaves a lot to be desired. Although not quite as bad as "The Rotters" with that giant mushroom, this one really is nothing special as tags go.
Overall Impression: I was pleased to be allowed to watch this episode by John Hayton after years of having thought that it was lost from my collection. I was astounded at just how good it really is. With the emphasis in my reviews firmly on direction, this one scores incredibly high marks with me instantly, but even Kim Mills would have left this as a good episode. William Job is outstanding as the cold and arrogant Lord Edgefield, and it is pleasing to see the return of Tony Steedman in a role which does not make him prescribe drugs but take them. The locations of this episode are also a real treat, and it looks as if this one must have been real fun to make.
Rating: Seven and a half out of ten.
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