Visitor Reviews
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Small Game for Big Hunters
by B.A. Van Lerberg

A man who had disappeared is found in safari dress with a tropical tan and a native dart in his back. The thing is, he was only missing for four days... Sounds like a job for The Avengers.

A good episode that gives Mrs. Peel an opportunity to show off her mind. The plot and scheme are classic off-the-wall Avengers, and that means good.

Special mention of Bill Fraser as Col. Rawlings—a fun performance. I like the eccentrics.

3 out of 5 bowlers.

Small Game for Big Hunters
By Terylene

Coming from Philip Levene's typewriter, "Small Game For Big Hunters" looks like a rather uncharacteristic episode for the author of "The Cybernauts", "From Venus With Love" and "Mission... Highly Improbable". This time, the Peel era's prolific scriptwriter puts science fiction aside and tackles another fascinating topic, dealing with African tribes, spells and colonialism.

Far from being surrounded by the black magic atmosphere of the earlier "Warlock", this story presents maybe the most peculiar mastermind of all! Professor Swain (what a name - doesn't it sound like "Swine," perhaps?) is breeding his "weapons" in a "hot jungle" near London, covering his deadly plans thanks to the "help" of a fake tribal environment. That's hilarious! Of course, Swain is not the only odd character of the story. Colonel Rawlings, a wonderful nutcase who thinks he's still living in Kalaya refusing to admit any changes that may affect his beliefs, adds a very colorful touch of quirkiness that makes up for an otherwise boring episode to me.

It is an episode that is somewhat frustrating if you are looking to enjoy the quintessential chemistry between Emma and Steed. Mrs Peel has surprisingly little to do in this story, most of which confines her to the cottage, "taking care" of Kendrick and Dr Gibson, both sunk in a deep sleep. And the one who admits to be insomniac, succumbs to the arms of Morpheus just when the "natives" take the two men to the "jungle".

Steed, however, owns the show through and through. And it is always a delight to catch him in the universe of his own eccentricities. Instead of wondering what on earth a native (!) was doing near the cottage, or better, chasing him up, Steed shows his superb nonchalance one more time, by telling Emma that his cucumber sandwiches had been left intact. Later, our animal lover admits that he "also" shot an elephant... with a camera and film (what a masterful statement for wildlife preservation!). As usual, Steed graciously humors bizarre Colonel Rawlings, and... after a good night's sleep, he gets out of his cot with his hair slightly, yet nicely mussed. Not to mention the fight scene when "Me Steed" succors Emma in such a Tarzan-esque style. Doesn't say Purdey something like "Me Purdey" in the "jungle" of "Trap", too?

A few curiosities are worthy of mention: on the one hand, a black actor was summoned to play Razafi, the friendly spy of Kalaya. And on the other, there's something I imagine is a reference to "Two's a Crowd,"—that strange folder labeled PZEV (although in "Two's a Crowd" it was PSEV) shown on the back seat of the Bentley, when Razafi is fumbling with Steed's papers.

So far so good. But once the baddies are beaten, Colonel Rawlings is left alone in his own lunacy, the flies get wet and cold, the case is then over, and Steed and Emma exit in their canoe (Emma suggesting to an idle Steed that they need an extra motor!). I wonder whatever happened to the "sleeping beauties" — Kendrick and Gibson. Does anyone know?

Small Game for Big Hunters
By Denis Chauvet, France

This episode refers to the end of British colonialism in the 60s. The idea of a "jungle" just outside London is quite original, but the episode is rather uneven and disappointing. After a very good start (one of the best teasers of the series), the pace is much too slow. In addition, Professor Swain gets on my nerves. His explanation about Shirenzai is too long and quite boring (flute, pendulum, mask...) and the viewers' attention can only be focused on Mrs Peel's attractive sleeveless black top! Who can believe in a curse that crosses the continents? The final fight is very confused and the Avengers get rid of Professor Swain too easily...

On the other hand, the music may be repetitive but it's new and fits in the story; Colonel Rawlings' cues are funny and the character enjoyable; Steed's quickness to draw his sword is impressive: "Take me to your leader." I also like Steed saying "Good old England. Beautiful weather, don't you think?" The best line of the episode is delivered in the tag: "Full speed ahead." "In that case, we have to start the second engine." We notice that Steed likes to be driven (see the first scene of "Silent Dust" when Steed and Emma are in the punt).

Overall, "Small Game for Big Hunters" is an average episode: the teaser deserves four bowlers and the episode only two.

Small Game for Big Hunters
By Dylan Hayden

This is a rather slow episode, and something of a disappointment after the classic teaser. It does make interesting (though characteristically eccentric) allusions to post-colonial affairs, which must have been very topical, controversial even, at the time.

Steed has the best of it, with some sharp dialogue, a nice sword manoeuvre, and unusual emphasis on his military rank. Emma, meanwhile, has little to do but linger in the house catching a chill in her sleeveless top, which is all very well for us Emma watchers.

There are some serious problems with the plot. Why do the "natives" shoot Kendrick with an arrow then leave him to be discovered? Just how does Dr. Gibson become infected with the disease, when we know that the flies can't survive the English climate? Why do the villains bother trying to steal the file on Col. Rawlings when they know he's a harmless old loon?

That said, this is a reasonably entertaining episode: a novel premise, Steed and Col. Rawlings have a whale of a time, and there's some good Emma-watching to be had.

How about two bowlers and half a trilby for this one?

Small Game for Big Hunters
by Matthew Moore, a.k.a. Sixofone

Plot: Poor. This episode drags on and the plot is weak. Flies immune to insecticide? If the people weren't forced to leave the country, then why are they angry?

Humour: OK. After the papers have been taken from Steed's car he remarks, "fortunately he overlooked my cucumber sandwiches." I enjoyed Steed's Tarzan yell. I do also like the line about the shooting of the bull elephant being 50 paces or, what, 40 paces?

Direction: OK.

Acting: Good. Great performance from Bill Fraser.

Music: Good. I like the jungle beat.

Tag: Poor.

Miscellaneous: This is my least favourite Emma Peel B&W episode. This one just bores me for some reason. Not much at all to say except I just don't like it.

Overall Rating: 4/10

Small Game for Big Hunters
by Andrew Holland

Alright, this is probably not the best episode of The Avengers by some distance but, in my opinion, it contains one of the most memorable guest performances of the entire series. Bill Fraser's portrayal of Colonel Rawlings hits all the right notes! Rawlings is not only completely oblivious to the plot that is being engineered by Messrs Trent, Swain and Fleming but also to everything else that is going on around him to the extent that he doesn't even realise that he lives in an elaborate mock-up of his beloved Kalaya rather than in the actual country itself (an illusion which, of course, the 3 villains use to their considerable advantage)! His ultra-competitive game of "Snap" with Steed is a particular highlight.

Apart from that, not much else of interest appears to happen. The plot is potentially interesting (breeding tsetse flies to destroy Kalaya's economy making it ripe for a takeover) but could have been better developed. Instead, we are treated to (apparently) endless scenes of Mrs Peel "babysitting" Kendrick & Dr Oliver—I imagine Diana Rigg must have been as bored acting this out as I was watching it! In the meantime, Steed seems to be enjoying himself once he reaches "Kalaya" and takes up the Colonel's offer of hospitality but, apart from whenever Bill Fraser appears, the scenes there are as flat as a pancake.

As far as the other guest stars are concerned, James Villiers is suitably stiff & upper-lipped as Simon Trent but doesn't really convince as a villain. However, placed against Liam Redmond's portrayal of Professor Swain, it is a masterpiece! Professor Swain comes over as possibly the least convincing mastermind I have seen so far in the series due to Mr Redmond's abject performance (although perhaps the fault equally lies with Philip Levene in the sense that he probably didn't flesh out the character properly). On the other hand, special mention should go to Paul Danquah who makes the most of a minor role as the Kalayan intelligence agent Razafi, disguised as a native but with a perfect English accent.

The episode only livens up at the end when Mrs Peel reaches "Kalaya" and the customary fight scene ensues, the highlight being Steed doing his best Tarzan impression, but it could and should have been much, much better.

Small Game for Big Hunters
by Frederic Goulet

This particular episode never really caught my attention, I never followed the story until the end and quite frankly I didn't need to. The plot drags on and on to finally get to: Nowhere... Flies immune?? Right, not the brightest concept for I must say, not the brightest episode of the famous Emma Peel B/W era. Still the plot concerning the colonel is a nice little twist. From the first twenty minutes or so a certain mystery fills around the episode, and seems really interesting at first. But unfortunately, once Steed gets to the colonel's house it just fail to keep our attention aroused.

Next point, the characters... Except for the Colonel there is not one single interesting character during the entire 50 minutes. Even the generally reliable (!!!) Steed and Mrs. Peel are not at the top of their games (Me Steed, Me Emma...). The humor is dry, tired and without well humor...

But I must say that the direction is not that bad. A word that could describe it would be: interesting. A few shots go a bit too long but others have interesting and original conception. Just thinking about the wonderful opening scene, there is nothing really mind-blowing about the direction but it just so controlled and immediate that we are taken in the action must instantly. The exteriors are good, too... (Not talking about the fake interiors, thought they are best than the ones in the TK episode Invasion of the Earthmen) It uses the nice weather in a very good way, seeing a lot of exteriors shots. The two interiors are great too!

All in all an episode that does lack of THE something that most of Avengers' episode have but have the magic those others episodes does lack. If only the characters would have been more interesting the silly plot would have work. Still good points make up to the bad ones because it is an enjoyable episode... If only for the first twenty marvellous minutes that involves a certain mystery with the voodoo theme, an episode to watch, in my opinion.

Rate: 2.5 out of 4

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Page last modified: 5 May 2017.

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