The GLG Reports
Page 15 of 67

Man-Eater of Surrey Green
By Grant L. Goggans

"Anything's possible." This is the precise moment where predictability flies out the window in The Avengers. We had hints of the bizarre, the fantastic and the unreal before (most notably in earlier Levene hours like "The Cybernauts"), but with its straight-faced presentation of a carnivorous space plant with hypnotic control over humans, the series enters a new realm, if you like, where the rules of the spy/espionage drama no longer hold, and any future threat of a fantastic or SF-type origin may be the real thing, and not some smokescreen by enemy agents or criminals. Unfortunately, the actual presentation of this episode doesn't live up to the promise. The script really isn't that original, and elements from the first two Quatermass serials (Earth rocket bringing something nasty home, controlled armed guards securing a remote facility) are very evident, almost beyond the point of homage. The script also lacks a bit of sense. How does the plant know who to take over, and how does it communicate its very precise needs for germination? This isn't made clear at all. The budget prevents us from actually seeing the giant plant in full (of course), so Hayers spends most of his resources on location. Sir Lyle's estate is pretty well thought-out, however, with the bizarre decor of naked mannequins dotting the corridors providing a weird counterpoint to the 50s "attack from space" mentality. The script gets to the climactic battle way too early, and Hayers simply doesn't make the battle seem exciting, as Steed, Mrs. Peel and botanist Dr. Sheldon stand around for an awfully long time before finally giving the plant a dose of herbicide. There's meant to be tension as they are under siege by the attacking vines, but the obvious studio set doesn't lend itself to any feelings of paranoia. After a lengthy buildup, it's disappointed by a dull ending. Everybody tried hard, but probably agreed afterwards that the Avengers were best fighting enemies their own size.

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Page last modified: 5 May 2017.

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