The Young Avenger
The House That Jack Built
Direction: Five out of five. After Don Leaver's finest work, "Dial a Deadly Number," this at first seems a little bit dull, but once Emma gets into the real heart of the maze, he is really on Hammond-esque form, which means that he fully comprehends the horror that Emma is going through, and matches the shots accordingly. Never does anything seem out of place. A very good effort.
Plot: Four out of five. The idea that the villain is dead before the episode starts, and realises that he will die in time to make the video to show Emma means that he really means to get his way. That idea of revenge that we see in "Dead Men Are Dangerous" comes through, and that means that we do not need wit, fights or humour to carry us through the tale, only Emma. The best of Brian Clemens' voyeuristic episodes, but not the first.
Wittiness: One out of five. This script does not need any wit in it, as it is just so utterly serious, and unconventional, but there is a great closing line, when Emma finally defeats Keller's invention, and she sees Steed. He has not actually done anything to help her, but one can imagine that she needs all the moral support she can get in such a situation. "What happened to the shining armour?" "It's still at the laundry."
Action: One out of five. I do not suppose that it really can be called such, but when Emma meets the convict (who reminds me an awful lot of my brother), she has a short scrap with him, only to rise above it again. This psychologically disturbing episode was not designed to be action packed, but this is enough to relent from the torment somewhat.
Cars/Sets/Locations: Three out of five. Incredibly, the sets actually seem rather disturbing in a "Too Many Christmas Trees" sort of way. The best bit is the memorial dedicated to Emma, for when she dies. Although her mother and father seem to be dressed in 50s clothing for no apparent reason, it is still one to be admired. On the minus side, though, Pendelsham is not in Hampshire, and the B31 does not exist. There is some nice filming around that spooky house, though, and even though the computer set is terribly dated, it somehow seems right.
Introduction/Tag: Four out of five. Another departure from the series, and the complete opposite to what came before it, the introduction shows us the journey of an escaped convict (possibly from Winchester Prison) to the house, and his subsequent meeting of the lion there. From only this, it seems as if it is going to be an episode where several agents go and try to find out about the house, except that the man in the introduction was not an agent. The tag is such a relief from the pressure of the previous 45 minutes that I must rate it very highly. "Soft pedalling!"
Overall Impression: If there was ever an improvement on Don't Look Behind You, this is it. It might not have much wit, any great fights, locations or one of those easy-to-follow storylines, but it makes up for all this by atmosphere, the most important thing in something like this. Leaver's direction, the idea of constant repeating rooms and the atmosphere, are all very original, and particularly frightening. However, this does not stop us from enjoying the company of Whithers, who really lets off the tension for a minute or two. Add to this the villain's excellent motive ("Dead Men Are Dangerous" in style), and you have a Hitchcockian masterpiece if there ever was one. Not for first-time viewers, but well worth it.
Rating: Nine and a half out of ten.
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