K is for Kill, Part 1
Poor Brian. If only he could have made this into one feature-length story. I sat through these in one sitting, and really most of this episode is padding. The pace is pretty slow, the plot stretched out to cover numerous attacks by the Russians in waves (which wears a little thin at towards the end), and there are simply far too many supporting actors for a show of this size. Edit this down, and stick it onto the second episode, and you'd have a quite credible New Avengers TV movie.
So, what do we have? Well, The New Avengers seems to have confused The Avengers with itself. The scenes in 1965 are quite brutish; Emma and Steed have none of their usual flirty intercourse, and I have to agree with David here that Diana sounds completely disinterested in her reading of her lines. However, this is almost compensated for by the warmth in Pat's voice and the smile on his face as he speaks to her.
There's precious little room for character development here, especially for Gambit, who's back to the shooting and pulling routine that he seemed to get lumped with for most of this series, right down to the corny lines—"We British do things by inches." We also get another of example of the "Gambit looks a bit daft here" line when he falters at the end of "Vive la..." Purdey, however, gets to show off a little in a very well-staged chase and fight sequence when trying to get hold of one of the Russian soldiers. She also is obviously jealous of Steed's relationship with Emma (see also "The Last of the Cybernauts...??")—the look she gives Steed when he's on the phone with Emma is very well played by Jo.
The only out-of-character line is given to Pat. When Gaspard complains about the British never turning up to help his battalion on the Somme, he rather callously says, "Maybe they got lost. Have you looked for them since?" I've not heard a line that shakes my faith in him so much since the "Jungle Music" reference in "The £50,000 Breakfast."
As to the overly-generous guest cast, we can give credit to two or three. Compared to some of the lacklustre Canadian performances that were to come, they are almost Oscar-winning. Pierre Vernier and Maurice Marsac put in good work as Martin and Gaspard, respectively. Indeed, Marsac seems more at home in this role than he did in the "The Lion and the Unicorn." The only trouble is that they have the most laboured French accents I have ever heard. Given that they are both actually French, I can only assume that this was meant to appeal to the UK/US markets in some obscure way!
The Russians are too obviously dubbed to really judge how well they did, although David De Keyser (I'll swear it's him!) manages to give a suitably sinister voice to Charles Millot's physical performance.
Then we have the issue of some gaping coincidences, such as the captured Russian being known to Gaspard, Toy knowing exactly where to get hold of Steed at that precise moment in time, and a non-cliffhanging cliff-hanger, given that this was what had been going on for most of the episode!
Things would get better next week!
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