The GLG Reports
Page 63 of 67

Gnaws
By Grant L. Goggans

"He died with his boots off?" Where to begin? This is certainly the most notorious, the most commented-on, the most audacious of all the New Avengers scripts, and it's certainly the worst before the show moved to Canada. Since anyone who is even half-interested in the show knows that this is the one with the giant rat, there's no point hiding it, and it's this knowledge which helps doom the hour. Even if the audience doesn't have contemporary information about the monster, it's still very easy to figure out what's down there before our heroes, and then it just becomes a question of waiting out the special effects, until we finally get to see the thing. In this, it proves to be a very 1970s production by waiting until the last possible minute to reveal the rat. It's very dated, Wonder Woman-styled scripting that, like a lot of 1970s action TV from the US and UK, seems very slow and boring today. Complicating matters is the dank lighting and Ray Austin's ultimately failed direction. There's only so much you can do with an under-lit studio sewer set. The acting's pretty good. It features Patrick Malahide, later a major TV star who would feature in Minder, The Singing Detective and The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries, as another agent named, humorously, George Ratcliffe. Sadly, the producers could have got the greatest stars of stage and screen and they'd still end up screaming and staring wide-eyed at the camera as a shadow passes over them. There's a mighty high body count in this one, but the higher violence level still doesn't make the wait for the rat any more interesting. Probably the only really great moment of "Gnaws" is Purdey's second trip down the sewers. Demonstrating why she's my favorite Avengers girl, she doesn't wear fatigues or anything practical to traipse around the filth and fodder, but a Laura Ashley dress, bless her.

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