The Young Avenger
Dirtier by the Dozen
Direction: Four out of five. Although I have admitted that Sidney Hayers is one of the Top Ten Directors of the entire series, he is given such a dull and routine story here to work on that none of his talent seems to shine through. However, there are a few scenes in the story, particularly towards the end, when Hayers communicates the horror of war to us very well. A good score, but wait for Hostage.
Plot: Two out of five. Even though the idea of mercenaries in this day and age is a frightening prospect, the pacing is so terribly slow, and Steed has so little to do in this episode, that it fails miserably in this category. It seems like Clemens ran out of ideas, and did a botched attempt to follow the format, which does not work here.
Music Cheese Factor: Four out of five. If I hear the funk guitar in the chase sequences across the moorland one more time, I will be forced to write my own score! Sorry, it is not all that bad, but it is as seventies as Mike Gambit's sick green and white shirt. Not an episode that has aged well.
Wittiness: Three out of five. It is actually quite funny in places, rather like "Invasion of the Earthmen." "How dare you admit a lady in here..." "I'm sorry sir." "...without offering her a drink." Purdey's uncle Elroy to his butler when Purdey goes to see him. "Oh! A double-barrelled slingshot. Why didn't you burn this with all the other girls?" "I didn't have to. I knew that I was emancipated." Gambit and Purdey trying to devise methods of knocking out soldiers with the bare minimum of armaments. Purdey answers Gambit's telephone with: "Gambit's movie house." One point lost for "Bra-vo!"
Action: Four out of five. Gambit faces a knifeman at a private aerodrome, then he and Purdey face about three of the soldiers, and make mincemeat of them. Then there are gun fights on the tapes that the courier brought to Gambit. Very violent.
Cars/Sets/Locations: Five out of five. Clemens' fixation with air bases makes a reappearance, and the whole of the episode that does not have Steed in it is shot on location, or in good sets, particularly Purdey's uncle's office! The Colonel has a rather staid Austin/Morris 1800, and some of the soldiers have an Austin-Healey 3000, which seems very out of place.
Introduction: Two out of five. Too many ideas for us to grasp are put forward here, something that could never be said for a Diana Rigg episode. There is some foreign location shooting, but it could have been done in England, and it is pitifully short. Then we are back to some of the worst October weather I have ever seen and the Super Landcrabs. But why is only one man guarding the base?
Freeze Frame: Captain Tony Noble falling over after being shot, and hitting a puddle. An average effort.
Overall Impression: Rather a dull episode, saved by Ballard Berkely's superb Regimental commander, and by just the sheer viciousness of the villain. However, it is a bit of a standard subject for the series, we have some very silly haircuts, music and Gambit is character of the week. If the episode has Steed's best moment as when he is showing off his toy soldier collection, then you know that this is not a good episode.
Rating: Four out of ten.
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