The Danger Makers
Dull. Dull, dull, dull, dull, dull.
I had no recollection of this episode when I bought the DVD that contained it. Yet I knew I had seen it because I taped it off of A&E back in the early 90s. Having viewed it for the first time in years, I can understand why I don't recall it. There is little to remember. After the chicken run bit, things go down hill rapidly, to a snail's pace, and they stay there. Steed meets a meandering of characters, none of whom are all that interesting. And Mrs. Peel seems strangely superfluous.
Overall, the story takes too long to get to the point, who the Danger Makers are, and what their purpose in life is. And somehow the final sinister plan of the Danger Makers just doesn't seem that sinister to me. Or maybe by that point it was just too late. By the time Mrs. Peel is navigating the teeter-totter, I'm already half asleep. Colonel Adams would have been more interesting had we met her earlier. But I'm afraid she largely comes off as a dotty old woman in the end as she helplessly drops her teacups while the world spun around her.
Finally, I have to agree with the Young Avengers. The sets do look rather cheesy, in particular the door inside the inner sanctum. One can plainly see that the molding on the door was not real relief work, but painted on. It looked like something from the set of a low-budget play. Ironically, I found it rather funny.
So in the end, I fear the episode was not very satisfying. Fortunately, the other two episodes on the disc more than make up for it. 1-1/2 bowlers.
The Danger Makers
The veteran Charles Crichton, who directed several episodes of the most famed British TV shows and would finish his career with the film A Fish Called Wanda, made his debut in The Avengers with "Death at Bargain Prices" no less. In view of such a superb piece, one might infer his later works with the show would follow similar patterns. However, watching "The Danger Makers" I should confess Crichton's charm and wit faded a little.
Comparisons between new products and earlier hits are not easy at all. It's possible, though, this has nothing to do with direction problems specifically. Perhaps Roger Marshall's script—whose key concept looks quite creative—is the reason for the extremely slow pace and lack of attractive plot. Maybe the characters, except for Robertson and the colorful Colonel Adams, aren't interesting enough to keep the viewer glued to the TV set. Probably the settings aren't too convincing enough to catch our eye. Or a few continuity errors appear too evident to go unnoticed: if "The Danger Makers" was originally produced and broadcast after "The Hour That Never Was," then why does Steed visit the RAF Hamelin base—which supposedly was dismantled in this latter—where even no one seems to recognize him?
But luckily there's a handful of action scenes and excellent lines of dialogue that make the temperature of this episode rise. And at this point it should be said the wittiest lines and gestures belong to both Emma and Steed. The provocative décolletage Mrs Peel is showing when she asks Steed how can she welcome the part time-phrenologist Robertson raises Steed's libido to the power of ten and his facial expression says it all in only two seconds. As if this wasn't enough, he even says, "Show him your bumps..." and the audience goes wild! The tension generated during the opening of a mysterious box Robertson gave to Emma explodes into a broad grin when Steed picks one of those "bombs" to take it into his mouth, admitting the wrapped ones are the chocolates he likes the most.
At Manton House, extravagances begin to multiply. The owner is a picturesque Colonel Adams, a collector of military stuff who quickly tries to dispute with Steed the role of women in the army, an issue Steed has no intention to refute. Colonel Adams is a great eccentric character indeed, especially when one realizes this is one of the very few female lunatics in The Avengers. The scene wherein Emma has to pass that hard "initiation test" is a gem to everyone. However, the way each viewer enjoys it may be quite different. While some go through a nerve-wracking experience watching Emma walk the plank, many others get a kick out of the handcuffed Bacchus... I mean, Steed's worried, petrified face as he stares at his partner in danger. If it wasn't for the black and white photography, I'd even say he looks pale! Of course, one knows beforehand Steed trusts Mrs Peel will eventually get by. But the overall scene is worth its weight in gold, and the same goes to Crichton's camerawork in it.
If truth be told, for an episode that only aims to tell us something about the "pleasure" the risky business have for some, these few bits really manage to draw me in!
The Danger Makers
Plot: Very Good. A nice psychologically-based plot. I can see war veterans being thrill-seekers due to their addiction to danger. I have heard of such a thing as an addiction to adrenaline—this could be connected.
Humour: Very Good. I loved the scene with the booby-trapped box of chocolates—it is a definitive Avengers scene. "Can always tell a military head." "Bullet-shaped."
Acting: Very Good. Great performance from Nigel Davenport. Fabia Drake also put in a good performance.
Miscellaneous: Robertson never explained what the gray area did on the pendulum thing. The stock footage made that hospital window seem extremely high up. I would have pulled the gun from the table before Robertson said three, just like Steed did. That's just not the right time to be sporting.
Overall Rating: 8/10
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