The Young Avenger
How To Succeed....At Murder
Direction: Two out of five. Don Leaver, who directed some of the best episodes of the series, seems to have really come off form with this, his last ever effort. There are a good number of interesting shots in the second half of the story, but on the whole it ranges from boring to bad, not words I want to associate with someone on the top ten list.
Plot: One out of five. This really is an awful plot, which has not aged well at all. They were very into Women's Lib and anti-sexism in the mid 60s, and indeed, The Avengers was one of the main instigators of it. However, here we see it gone to far, and something which should have been a tribute to feminism ends up being a parody of one with immensely sexist results. How did Brian Clemens write this?
Music: Four out of five. Amazingly for such a poor episode, there is a reasonable music score. It is especially effective in the sequences where Emma follows Mary back to the Throgbottom's Keep Fit classes, although it is recycled from "The House That Jack Built." A rare glint of hope in an otherwise failed episode.
Wittiness: Two out of five. The real saviour of the episode from the dark realms of "Trap" and "Gnaws" is Christopher Benjamin, who really is the classic eccentric. He contributes just about the only good line in an otherwise barren script. "I smell a great deal!" Double entendre or what?
Action: Three out of five. Steed faces Sandra in a darkened office (and loses), but then there is the Emma versus almost the entire mob at the end. Oh dear, not very politically correct at all to have the women being so stupid as to fall for the scheme.
Cars/Sets/Locations: Two and a half out of five. Despite the rather good place for the meetings in the gym, the rest of the episode either has awful sets or very dull locations. Mary Merryweather's office also has a very bad exterior (which happens to be the studios where it was filmed). The graveyard is mildly interesting, but this is it.
Introduction/Tag: Three out of five. This really is a very stupid episode. In order to dispose of her boss, the secretary uses dynamite, but surely a tin hat is not really going to protect her against the huge explosion in the next room? It also looks particularly bad in the set department. The tag is all right, but it is not enough to raise this from the low score range.
Overall Impression: A very dated, sexist episode with not very good direction, sets, an awful plot, little wit and Emma being a little too subjected to the male dominance here for my liking. Appalling in every respect apart from Christopher Benjamin's great performance as J.J. Hooter, which actually earns the episode most of its (very few) points. The best scene is where Steed gets his secretary on a chair and tickles her. Oh dear, not very politically correct.
Rating: Two and a half out of ten.
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