The Young Avenger
The Three-Handed Game
Direction: Four out of five. Although nowhere as good as Graeme Clifford in "Sleeper," Austin jumps to the challenge of making this Emma Peel-style episode. There are some lovely shots, particularly in the theatre towards the end, a good dark feel to the whole setup, and convincing action sequences. Austin's best this season.
Plot: Four out of five. Although it is not particularly clear where Clemens took over from Spooner in this episode, the idea of a mind-transfer machine seems very much like Clemens' tribute to Philip Levene, in much the same way as "The Last of the Cybernauts...?" was. It would still work very well in the 60s, and the theatre setting for the finale and the kidnapped tap dancer lend this an air of strangeness lacking in so many New Avengers episodes. A very good score.
Music Cheese Factor: Two out of five. The worst music that we find in this episode is not actually that bad, and is certainly due too much to Laurie Johnson's funk guitar solos! I am afraid that I cannot really stand jolly theatrical music from any source, so when it appeared at the end, it was appropriate, but still irritating. A very well scored episode, particularly in the first half.
Wittiness: Two out of five. Despite two writers, most of the wit comes from Juventor's stammer, and subsequent transformation into Ranson. We do have rather a good scene, with the dotty sculptor Helen McKay showing Gambit and Purdey her garden. Most of the sculptures are rather abstract, but when we come across one which actually looks convincing: "Napoleon's retreat from Waterloo?" "No, the gardener put that up to prop up the rhododendrons."
Action: Three out of five. Gambit has a particularly "hard" moment, when he has a slapstick fight with the man who has just turned Helen McKay into a vegetable, but the best bit in the episode, is when Purdey faces Ranson. At this point, Ranson is actually Juventor, and they fight on a darkened stage, with Steed and Gambit shining spotlamps on them. Wonderfully silly, just like the colour series!
Cars/Sets/Locations: Five out of five. The production team seems to have taken full advantage of the late summer weather here, and we have Steed going to Silverstone to meet a racing driver, and then, in a totally improbable sequence, we see that Steed's Jaguar is actually faster than a Formula One car. Some joke! The racing driver then gets out of his car, unphased by the fact that he has just been overtaken by a road car! The theatre is very well designed, as is the house where Juventor does his demonstration. A good score for the end of the season.
Introduction: Three out of five. Unfortunately, this seems to have been another unsuccessful attempt to cram too much into one start. We meet the three agents assigned with the information, see Steed deciphering it, have random shots of submarines and the White House and then a death from the machine and then finally end up with Ranson having his face redesigned, all before the start. Too much!
Freeze Frame: Ranson being hit in the face by Juventor's assistant. Not a pleasant sight.
Overall impression: A suitably silly episode, with a great performance from Terry Wood as the corrupt Japanese ambassador. We also see tap dancing, a memory man, a blonde in hot pants and Gambit in the nude. Unfortunately, it is all far too difficult to follow for a first time, and it has very suspect pacing, which means that the end comes too soon. This is one episode that could have become an excellent film. It also lacks a tag, although the end is all right. Gambit's seduction is also very funny.
Rating: Seven and a half out of ten.
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