The Young Avenger
Legacy of Death
Direction: Four and a half out of five. I had always thought that "Stay Tuned" was Prisoner director Don Chaffey's masterpiece, until I saw this one for the first time in four years. Although not good enough to get him on the top ten list, the direction is certainly very watchable, and much better than someone like Bob Asher. A splendid debut for him.
Plot: Two out of five. A parody of the Maltese Falcon, which is only Terry Nation's second script (his first was the much-mocked "Invasion of the Earthmen") and totally different to his previous effort. There really is not very much plot to go around, and the whole thing rests on one idea. It is the way that Nation treats us to all the old clichés in the film that keeps us going.
Original Music: Two out of five. If the same theme was not repeated over and over again during this episode, I would be tempted to give it more than this, but for once, I am longing for more musical references, but these are only directed towards the film of which they are a parody here. Shame.
Wittiness: Three out of five. Surprisingly, despite all the quips, references and amusing lines, it fails to interest me along scripts like "Dial a Deadly Number" and "Look - (stop me if you've heard this one) But There Were These Two Fellers...," which are the two extremes of Avengers wit. There is a great line, however, when Steed's boyhood fetish comes to prominence, as in "The Town of No Return."
"It's for my nephew's tenth birthday," Steed says,
playing with a model Spitfire.
Action: Four out of five. Steed manages to dispose of three different dagger-chases in his flat, one indirectly, and the other two through quick-thinking. Then Tara fights Gregor, who drives a black Porsche 911 (very 1980s) and beats him. At the end, we have all against all in a huge tussle, involving all sorts of weapons including a stolen gun, which Steed proceeds to pocket!
Cars/Sets/Locations: Four and a half out of five. This would achieve full marks if it were not for some stupid shots showing off the studio's fake streets, including the one below Tara's flat. Steed's boyhood play place is wonderful, and so is the August weather, which is taken full advantage of during filming. Farrar's place itself is very well constructed, and does not look tacky, apart from the coffin itself. We also have millions of cars, which helps the thing along somewhat. One day, I will write them all down.
Introduction/Tag: Three out of five. This really should have been shorter, and ended when Farrar is placed in the coffin, for it develops a distinct New Avengers tendency to last too long, which is no good thing for preventing viewers from switching off. the tag is a bit awful as well, using a thing which has already been done to death in the episode, and then bringing out the champagne for no good reason.
Overall Impression: Although not nearly as bad as some King episodes, it is full of continuity errors, such as day and night differences, and the fact that Steed is in the same suit for the whole thing, despite the fact that it seems to happen over several days. The eccentrics save it once again, with excellent performances from Stratford Johns, Ronald Lacey, our old friend John Hollis and the fake Chinese shop owner. They really make it worth watching, and Nation proves here that he is a versatile writer, but the whole thing rests around one idea, which cannot last for fifty minutes. Unfortunate, because everyone tried so hard with it.
Rating: Six out of ten. (Same as "Invasion of the Earthmen"!)
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