The Young Avenger
A Touch of Brimstone
Direction: Four out of five. After "Castle De'ath," James Hill had a lot to live up to, and he certainly seems to have succeeded here. Just a cursory glance at any point in this episode will give one an idea of just how good Hill could be, especially in the introduction. Wonderful!
Plot: Three and a half out of five. I really think that the plot just goes far too far in trying to actually recreate every single aspect of the Hellfire Club, especially as this is just an excuse for a large amount of free expression (Hmm, Hmm) and a lot of very explicit practical jokes. I really think that the practical jokes side of it could have actually sufficed for the plot. I am amazed this episode aired at all.
Music: Five out of five. That wonderful harpsichord in some of the background music and the absence of all other modern instruments make this a score to be truly remembered, as it exemplifies what Laurie Johnson could do with an episode to truly define its character, and here he, he has a large amount of success. You will not find much better than this.
Wittiness: Three out of five. Brian Clemens comes up with some very sexist lines in this one (I hate feminism and sexism, and for some reason Emma seems to like the dreadful Cartney), but on Emma's first visit, there is a wonderful exchange between them. "Your eyes have remarkable depth. Will you dine with me tonight?" "I have come to appeal to you." "You certainly do that." Not as good as "Death at Bargain Prices," unfortunately.
Action: Four out of five. Steed, in a wonderful waistcoat, fights the mono-dexterous Willy with a sword, and then avoids his metal hand. Then there is that whipping scene. Yuk, it makes me cringe at how awfully sexist it is. Ah well, at least we get to see Steed versus Darcy's manservant in two different scenes and two different guises. Not bad, but not the best either.
Cars/Sets/Locations: Four out of five. Darcy's house has a cupboard door that is a little too obviously plywood, but otherwise there are very good sets, especially that great Hall of all sins. We also get to see the Bentley on location (it was December), but no other cars. Just watch the cellar scenes.
Introduction/Tag: Four out of five. In another huge departure from the normal style of the series, we get to see the villain right from the start, and it is obvious that he is as well! That odd bit of music is also a very weird touch, but the way that Steve Plytas plays Kartovski is also worthy of a mention! The tag is splendid, although a little out of keeping with the serious style of the episode.
Overall Impression: This episode just goes far too far for me. It is sexist, the wit is a bit off, and that plot could have just stopped at the practical joke side, and been a lot funnier as well. Even keeping the Hellfire Club part of it, there is another serious missed opportunity when Cartney, who gets "on rather well" with Emma, does try to get her affections, but she does not respond in a way that seems to be in keeping with her character. Also, I think all the scenes with women and Cartney just go over the top. Sorry, but this really was not what the series, in my opinion, was about.
Rating: Seven and a half out of ten.
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