The Young Avenger
Direction: Three out of five. It is getting on late in the series, and Ray Austin has just emerged from being at the helm of what must be the world's worst Avengers episode, "Trap." However, for this, his penultimate effort, he manages to get some rather atmospheric direction into what is one snoozer of a plot. Watch the B Complex scene. Unfortunately, the rest of it is so dull, it is not worth watching.
Plot: One and a half out of five. I do not mind stories of Steed being under suspicion (I rate both "Who Was That Man I Saw You With?" and "Hostage" very highly), but this one is totally the wrong way around! The entire thing is explained at the beginning, and it is only left to wait for us to discover how much time it will take for Steed to prove himself innocent! Plus a lot of minor and irrelevant characters! What a mess!
Music Cheese Factor: Three out of five. Johnson not only gives us a rehash of the cheesy guitar chase theme from "The Eagle's Nest," he gives us a new theme, and sometimes music which seems like the score from Thunderball (good thing), but then complements it with guitar solos (bad, very bad). Not a very good effort.
Wittiness: Two out of five. Considering that Spooner wrote some of the best lines ever in "Look - (stop me if you've heard this one) But There Were These Two Fellers..." for him to sink as low as this is just a demonstration of the way the series was going. Here is the best line. "It tells me nothing." Victoria Stanton on Steed's watch, looking for the atmospheric whoosh of the object. "Not even the time?" asks Purdey. Hmmmm.
Action: Two out of five. Despite many opportunities to break into punch ups, these are all negated and prevented by Spooner's script. There is a lot of the Russian in his brown suit hanging around waiting for opportunities to hit people, but it does not happen very often. Also, when there is a fight, it is Gambit's job. Oh dear. Not very good.
Cars/Sets/Locations: Four out of five. Steed gets to visit the Russian ballet, and the theatre is well constructed to be only in a couple of scenes. Purdey also gains a Triumph TR7 (quite a good car, actually considering the way British Leyland) and Victoria has a Morris Minor (my mother had one in the late 60s and 70s. It was a great little car, apparently). The locations are all right, apart from the Embassy, which could be anywhere.
Introduction: Two out of five. The ruffling of the notes indicates that this is not going to be a conventional episode. But then, we have the paying off of the informants, Steed's appearance, and the revealing of the wig switching. It is all very bad, as the plot is staring one in the face the moment that the money has been handed over for the second time. Why did Spooner bother? A silly, inserted explanation of a tag with a very bad closing line does not help this, either. Why do we have to see Steed's horses, they have not appeared all episode?
Freeze Frame: Mason being pushed off a bridge by Wallis and his money flying everywhere. It actually looks rather good.
Overall Impression: This might not have achieved fourth worst episode status for this season if a few things had been cleared up. First, why the plot is explained from stage one is a mystery. The psychic thing is really quite interesting, as I have a mild liking for such things as this. Victoria is also very well played by Sue Holderness, and Neil Hallett makes a welcome return as the ministerial archetype that he has played twice before. But there are too many characters (Cowley and Wigmore are useless additions to the story), and the let through is the pipe at the end used to transmit the messages. It might have been better if the phenomenon had been left unexplained, like in "Warlock," which is one of my favorites.
Rating: Three and a half out of ten.
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