The GLG Reports
Page 62 of 67

By Grant L. Goggans

"I'm not annoyed with you, Gambit. You can't help your background." This is admittedly not the most original of concepts — The Avengers had done doubles stories more than once in the original run — but here it's done with a very amusing and knowing series of twists that leaves the audience totally delighted. As purely a visual story, it's a treat in itself since there's so much fun onscreen to watch. James Hill uses a recurring motif whenever a replacement and the original man meet, a series of very quick reaction cuts between the two. Then there's Mullins, one of the original two criminals, and the one who has to arrange things from behind the scenes while his partner moves freely in Whitehall. Mullins is an archer who uses a bow and arrow to bring his targets down, which is certainly a novel and unique approach to murder in a TV series. He's played by Edward Petherbridge, later to appear as TV's second Lord Peter Wimsey in the BBC's A Dorothy L. Sayers Mystery, and is an excellent villain. Hunt and Lumley also get to have the same level of fun as Macnee and Rigg did in season five's equally confusing "Who's Who???" by playing other characters, but the first added twist is that they're playing Gambit and Purdey pretending to be other people, and the second is that while each is actually the real person, they believe the other is an imposter. The scenes where "Lolita" and "Watson" (the undercover identities of our heroes) argue about how Gambit and Purdey would act in real life are not only hysterical, they're entirely convincing since the actors are so into their characters. Lumley has a ball with Lolita, an East End tart with no education, but lots of money, a big gun and a habit of punctuating every sentence with "Knaw worra mean?" Even after Lolita and Watson have assumed the roles of Purdey and Gambit, they still let some of the affectations of the fake identities shine through, so Purdey chews gum and Gambit doesn't shave daily! Another very unusual element of this episode is the pace. Even after the prologue, which is revealed in the dialogue later on to have taken place five years before, the story unfolds over the course of a few weeks, and for the most part, it does a good job of feeling like time has passed. The only real downside to me is the New Avengers cliché of Steed losing the umpteenth "oldest friend" in his life to some evil scheme. This one's a bit unusual, though, in that the replacement Clifford dies purely by chance, and not because someone was after Steed at this point. I haven't seen all of The New Avengers, but I'd be surprised if any of the others are better than this one.

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