The Young Avenger
What the Butler Saw
Direction: Four out of five. The only filmed contribution of Bill Bain to the series probably makes us feel worse than we would have for loss of such a great man. "The Charmers," "The Undertakers" and "Dressed to Kill" were all brilliant predecessors to this one, and he combines a lot of the elements that he used in those episodes in order to craft this less than serious one. The end fight is just as good an example as any to show just how good he was at doing this.
Plot: Three and a half out of five. Unfortunately, this plot seems rather like a Tara-orientated episode, as it features all sorts of clichéd cut out characters, but, amazingly, it works well as a pure comedy episode, even though it does seem a little orientated in the wrong direction in this respect. Not very substantial, but well worth it for the laughs is how I would rate the plot in this episode.
Music: Four out of five. That great, upper class, military-style theme that accompanies the majority of the episode in order to signify the contents, sums it up so well that I can hardly complain. All the versions of The Avengers theme that are played as Steed goes to visit the various military men are so great in themselves that one just has to listen to the score to appreciate the genius of Laurie Johnson.
Wittiness: Four out of five. I cannot honestly remember the very funny lines in this, but there are many. The butler's agency motto is funny in itself, though. "Better, Brighter, More Beautiful Butling." Then there is Steed's exchange with Emma. "Don't do anything I would."
Action: Three out of five. The big fight comes at the end where Emma faces Sergeant Moran in the laundry room of the Agency, and Steed is pitted against Benson, who has a deadly table at his disposal. "Full frontal assault. No, retreat!" General Posonby Goddard shouting makes us remember that is episode is pure comedy!
Cars/Sets/Locations: Three and a half out of five. It is a shame that when Howard Marion Crawford says to his supposed father, "Kindly confine your activities to the garden. And don't blow up the roses again," that we do not follow suit. The locations are not bad (especially the round house where the Admiral lives), but there is just not enough of them. Do not miss Steed climbing out of the armoured car, though! He looks so spiv-like, it is not funny.
Introduction/Tag: Four out of five. From the very start, it is obvious that this is not going to be a serious episode. The standard dismissal of a butler scene, and then the subsequent shooting of the man does not quite grab us with the sort of severity that one should expect from such a situation. Very good, but the tag in the helicopter, although very funny, does not have quite the same feeling to it.
Overall Impression: The height of the comedy of the fourth season, this has just so many great little scenes that it is hard to criticise it. One might say that the pacing is a bit slow, but who cares? We need time in order to see how Steed handles each situation that he gets put into in a military context. Just the thought of Emma as the femme fatale brings a smile to her face, but that is not as big as the anticipation that the audience experiences when she agrees to Steed's plan. Then there is that charming scene at the bar, where all she needs to do to make him lose his two girls is to look at him! Wonderful! Steed has a lot of fun as well, showing that he would make a great butler, sailor, soldier or pilot. The Avengers Dossier got this wrong when they called it a Tara episode: it is just an Emma Peel episode, stylishly produced with a sort of Tara plot!
Rating: Nine out of ten.
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