Visitor Reviews
Page 68 of 164

Too Many Christmas Trees
by Experience Steedophile

This is a really sweet episode. Steed looks positively delish throughout.

The episode features two veterans of the 1951 "A Christmas Carol": Patrick Macnee, who played Young Marley, and Mervyn Johns, who played Bob Cratchit. This is a great movie, by the way. Alistair Sim is the definitive Scrooge; I don't know why anybody else bothered playing Scrooge after him. I suspect "Too Many Christmas Trees" contains many references to "A Christmas Carol", but the only one I could track down was Steed's line, "there never was such a stocking!" which echoes Tiny Tim's line "there never was such a pudding!"

The plot of "Too Many Christmas Trees" is perfectly transparent right up to the moment that Steed explains it to us, when it becomes completely opaque. Dr. Teasel is actually a good guy? They were really after Mrs. Peel's mind? What?

I don't know why dream sequences are taken as an excuse to save money on sets. With all the great atmosphere elsewhere in The Avengers, why do the dream sequences look like they were designed by preschoolers?


Too Many Christmas Trees
by B.A. Van Lerberg

Possibly my favorite Emma Peel episode from the monochrome series. It's got everything: atmosphere, bantering, humor, a good mystery that slowly unfolds as the episode goes along... plus Mrs. Peel in that Oliver Twist costume is great.

Steed is having terrifying nightmares, and each time he wakes up, he finds another piece of the nightmare has become reality. The psychic attack of Steed is a surprising and inspired development.

Steed is truly scared, and we feel for him. Mrs. Peel is genuinely worried about her partner and we want to see her help him. Father Christmas is truly creepy and we hope that when we're done watching the episode and go to bed, we're not unlucky enough to dream about him too.

5 out of 5 bowlers.


Too Many Christmas Trees
by Ben Mott

It's Christmas Day evening and the heat is off. As we slump in front of the television, the stakes are low, our critical faculties anaesthetised. Yet there is something about the festive season that lends itself well to rousing us from our complacency as we sit feeling stodgy and laden with too many mince pies and wine. "Too Many Christmas Trees" works on this principle, neatly inverting familiar icons of Christmas, transforming them into surrealist plot devices in a tale of telepathy and mind control.

The episode begins as Steed is plagued by bad dreams—the camera moving away from the mundane reality of Steed's world (lying in bed asleep) into the realms of his imagination. Nightmarish imagery is employed to enhance a profound sense of dislocation as he wanders through a minimalist forest of fake Christmas trees towards a box of Christmas presents and a laughing Santa with horrifically deformed features. Instantly we see this is not going to be your usual light-hearted Christmas fare where nobody has to try too hard, but then The Avengers is not your usual television series.

"Too Many Christmas Trees" is the name of the script and indeed there are times when a little judicious pruning would not come amiss. The exact motivations of the villainous band of telepathic miscreants as they work to drain Steed's mind are not as clearly defined as they might be—yet it would be churlish to dwell on the episode's imperfections. After all, Christmas is a time for self-indulgence. Imbued with a warm seasonal spirit yet tinged with misanthropy, the episode is rich pickings, moving from one diverting set piece to another, providing a sequence of sensations as opposed to constructing a genuinely coherent narrative. The good-natured reference to the departed Honor Blackman ("Mrs. Gale! How nice of her to remember me. What can she be doing in Fort Knox?"). The Dickensian themed opulence of Brandon Storey's mansion. Mrs. Peel in her Oliver Twist costume. The mental torture of Steed dressed as the ill-fated Sydney Carton at the hands of Janice Crane. Steed and Emma singing carols. The memorable climax in the hall of mirrors where Steed acts for all the Stooges in the world and actually gets to shoot Santa (bah, humbug!). "Too Many Christmas Trees" unfolds like the opening of presents—each package brings intrigue, wit, warmth, suspense, and finally utter pleasure when the gift is revealed in its entirety. Style may win out over substance, but this is a near-perfect episode of The Avengers and therefore perfect viewing at Christmas—or any other time.


Too Many Christmas Trees
by Terylene

Those who managed to make out the elusive plot of this episode at first glance should win a prize! Enigmatic like few; subtle like most Peel monochrome stories; so disturbing and scary for a Christmas tale, and displaying the loveliest rapport between its stars, "Too Many Christmas Trees" is, in the eyes of many connoisseurs, the best Avengers installment.

When you come to the realization that your analysis of the episode got the wrong end of the stick for nearly three-quarters of an hour, and that the story kept you glued to the screen, utterly oblivious of what the outcome would be, the least you can do is take your hat off to a true masterpiece. Wasn't all this the show's driving force, after all? Wasn't The Avengers a series that sought to keep its distance from the commonplace, brushing the trivial aside and handling the surprise element with a Hitchcockian fluidity?

Whenever such topics as telepathy, extra-sensory perception and psychic experiments are approached in TV series, sooner or later the public gets hooked. The end results may be disparate, the way in which the theme is treated may be believable or not; but always the matter has found a comfortable place amongst the audience, not only in The Avengers, but also in The New Avengers. Maybe this was attained thanks to an excellent production of those stories. Maybe not. Either way, it's rather puzzling to learn that "Too Many Christmas Trees" was not penned by Brian Clemens or Phillip Levene, nor directed by James Hill or Sidney Hayers, who, with few exceptions, were behind the best Avengers episodes. Nevertheless it's most rewarding to see that, this time, other names have left their mark on the book where the top-notch Avengers stuff is recorded. No one could deny that sparks flew between Tony Williamson and Roy Baker, both standing out in script and direction respectively.

It is indeed this outstanding affinity between Williamson and Baker that stirs up so many scenes hard to count. Examples abound, but the high spot is reached when the intricate story begins to unfold during the end fight, which we only see through the concave and convex images of those singular mirrors—as an exquisitely distorted reality—stand in for a synthesis of the many feats anyone could speak about.

Sure, a good part of the merit of "Too Many Christmas Trees" also leans on performances that go beyond typecast. That Robert James still plays a butler and/or a villain isn't new in The Avengers. But that Edwin Richfield takes the part of a Dr Teasel, who stays within the law, leaves us speechless. That Mervyn Johns appears as a spooky Santa ("of the particularly nasty type," remarks Steed) who's shot dead in front of one of the mirrors, leaves the angelic image of that mythical character spotless—after all, he isn't the Santa of our childhood days. That Steed takes advantage of his acting skills to pose as the "victim" nearly for the length of the episode, is as exciting as finding out that Mrs Peel was the first target of the psychic experiment. And that both clear up the mystery through Christmas carols (it has been said that Patrick Macnee sings better here than in "Kinky Boots"—true!) sounds as surreal as metaphysical.

It's hard to think of words that could better describe this show other than those above. One also finds it quite impossible to categorize an episode in which a mention to Steed's ex-partner (in this case, Mrs Gale) is made for the first time, mixing fact, irony and fantasy into a juicy cocktail, ready to be tasted from the screen. Although this isn't to say much, either. "Too Many Christmas Trees" is the quintessence of The Avengers. And there it is, 37 years later, defying unflappably the passage of time. A privilege exclusively reserved for the great creations.


Too Many Christmas Trees
by Matthew Moore, a.k.a. Sixofone

Plot: OK. I don't believe in psychics or ESP, so this one is a little too outlandish for me. Felix Teasel being a good guy is a nice twist.

Humour: Excellent. "Ah! My dear Mrs. Peel, a merry Christmas, a merrier Christmas. You sir must be John Steed, delighted dear fellow delighted. Have a good run down? (Steed and Emma try to answer but Storey does not pause) Capital, excellent! Feel like a drink now, eh? (Storey does not pause) Of course you do. Do you know anyone else here? (Storey does not pause) Never mind, time for introductions later." The reference to Cathy Gale was great. Boofums?

Direction: Excellent. Shots during the dream mind reading sequences were wonderfully eerie.

Acting: Excellent. It was great to see Edwin Richfield back—he has a great shifty-eyed look about him. Great performance from Mervyn Jones.

Music: Excellent. The introduction and the hall of mirrors sequence had great music.

Tag: Very Good. Very sweet.

Miscellaneous: Jenkins dropping the drugs into Steed's nightcap was a little too dramatic. Too bad Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg never recorded a song together like him and Honor Blackman, because I really enjoyed their singing. If you watch closely, you will notice Steed's car is different between close up and exterior shots: in the close up shots, his car has two small windscreens; in the exterior shots, it has one windscreen. The fight at the end of this episode was very good. This is a wonderfully surreal episode. I watched this episode on Christmas Eve and recommend you to do the same if you have the opportunity.

Overall Rating: 10/10


Too Many Christmas Trees
by A.R. Cooley

Amazingly, I realised this was an episode I had never seen. And what a treat!

Edgier, scarier than the one has come to expect. Packed with character actors from the period (you know — he was in, err...?). Edwin Richfield a goody — that took me by surprise. I had him down as the spooky Santa. Steed, a victim for once — and convincing. Having to rely on Emma to extricate him.

I particularly liked the dream sequences. Although they did drag on a bit. And you just knew that Steed had clocked on when the butler handed him the drugged wine.

The reference to Mrs Gale at Fort Knox had me chuckling. But not as much as the exchange between Emma and Steed on the bed — priceless.

By the way, was there another subtle James Bond reference thrown in? The photograph of Steed's murdered colleague appeared to carry the designation 005, but was obscured by Steed's thumb.

Nitpick. When Emma picked up Steed's Xmas cards, she left one on the floor.

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Page last modified: 5 May 2017.

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