The Young Avenger
Too Many Christmas Trees
Direction: Five out of five. Roy Baker, who worked with Hitchcock on The Man Who Knew Too Much in 1935, does this episode with such precision and menacing intent that it is hard to believe how he possibly could have got worse going from this to "Room Without a View." It is all so well done that I cannot describe it all. Just watch it for yourself! Almost the best direction of the series. Shame he was so inconsistent in the rest.
Plot: Four out of five. This might well have been the best plot of the series. Once again, it proves that Steed is a lot more intelligent than his boyish exterior seems to report, and that Emma herself is not to thick either. Just the idea of getting into someone's mind and "poking around in one's innermost thoughts" is enough to make you shudder. Great plot by Williamson in only his second script!
Music: Five out of five. What can I say? Throughout the early season four episodes (early to be filmed that is), parts of this score keep creeping up. I love every minute of it. Just in the first scene we hear its spooky tones coming through, and then to repeat just those eight notes makes it the best score of the series.
Wittiness: Five out of five. The best Williamson script. Those wonderful Steed/Emma rapport scenes, in his house, then his car and then the bedroom earn this the title easily. Just listen to this.
"Steed, isn't it time you bought a new car?"
I could go on and on, but I have not got the time!
Action: Three out of five. We might just have one major fight, but what a fight. Daringly directed using all sorts of quick cutting, reflections and multiple camera angles, it must have taken ages to film. Then we have Emma who really excels herself here. No doubts about this as the best fight ever!
Cars/Sets/Locations: Four out of five. Although we only see Steed's Bentley in the shots, it is a lovely car, as detailed above. Then, we have the sets, which are, in my opinion, the best Harry Pottle ever designed. There might not be much location filming, but that eerie Christmas tree set at the beginning gave me nightmares! Well done.
Introduction/Tag: Five out of five. It does not get any better than this. Steed, asleep in bed, dreams that he is drifting through a Christmas tree forest, with his bowler, umbrella and pyjamas. Then, he sees a present, opens it, and it is Freddie Marshall. Then we have him facing Father Christmas, who laughs at him, as he sees Marshall's body. The tag is just brilliant as well, and just at that crucial moment, the camera leaves them! Wow!
Overall Impression: Not an episode to be shown to first time fans (who really might have nightmares afterwards and never speak to you again), but as this was the first Season Four episode I watched, it really does have some paranormal hold on me. That psychologically challenging direction, the spooky Dickens' mastermind, the telepathy of the circle and the sinister Felix Teasel scare me every time. Then we have them singing together, a card from Cathy, a lovely seasonal air (my birthday is 30th December) and that S/E rapport.
Rating: Ten out of ten.
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