Honey for the Prince
Well, well... you don't need to rub Aladdin's lamp to see the genie(iuses) who gave birth to one of the most outstanding Avengers episodes—luckily, they always existed. Mr Clemens and Mr Hill must have made a concerted effort to get a product that goes beyond the confines of ordinary imagination, playing with the viewer's ecstasy as if, indeed it was an story in the style of "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves." You don't need to project yourself into deep space or slide into science-fiction to enter a world of illusion. These gentlemen achieved their goals with regular but suggestive sets, surrounded by the four walls of a TV studio, and basically, with an extremely creative plot, filled with humor, fantasy and surrealism. If that is not called talent, then how should we define it?
However, the brilliant aesthetics of "Honey For The Prince" is attributable not only to its creators, but also to those who were in front of the camera. The Avengers was noted for being a show in which all its characters made sense. But perhaps, like never before, all of them are key elements in this episode, however secondary they may be—even those unbilled and/or with no lines, as if each one fitted skillfully in this colorful puzzle. Or how to ignore the presence of Arkadi's Eurasian assistant, or the robust black men who bang the gong in the court of Prince Ali, or the hilarious Napoleon who makes Steed say one sentences or two in French?
With these supporting characters, one easily may picture the main ones. A friend said once that if bees had a humanoid face, that would be Bumble's, and I know she was right! Arkadi and his minion Vincent make a very particular criminal pair. The former is a refined villain not lacking in male chauvinism, who gives his macabre orders without neglecting his personal care, as he's being fondled by his female assistant. Vincent is a submissive yet cold-blooded killer who does not hesitate to expose his boss when he runs into trouble, specially if he only received 50% of his payment... cut by half. Few could imagine an anglophile Muslim prince playing cricket with Steed in his own court, revealing, by the way, he isn't a good player. In addition, the magnificence of Mrs Peel's dance of the seven veils (six, actually) disguises the sexist tone of the scene, when besides the provocative looks the prince, his Grand Vizier and Steed himself give to Mrs Peel, they make comments on the "mentally retarded" dancer.
But, doubtless, the note that adds a superb finish to this episode is the "Quite, Quite Fantastic" agency and its owner, Hopkirk. Not only for Ron Moody's fine performance, playing one of the most remarkable eccentrics throughout the show (he would act the part of another unforgettable nut in "The Bird Who Knew Too Much"), but also for the fanciful premise. Have you ever imagined you could get to a certain place to recreate your own fantasies? To dream about climbing the Everest, or being Napoleon or a cowboy in the Far West? Indeed, we wouldn't be so ingenuous if some time, in our imagination, we conceived the QQF to fulfill our greatest illusions. Not to mention if, as a result of such an adventure, Steed and Emma make room for us in their magic carpet...
Watching this sensational episode, some of us can't evade a bitter feeling when admitting that it would mark the end of the fourth season, the one in that glorious, immaculate black and white, featuring the dreamiest, most intuitive and imaginative scripts. Fascination and futurism would come awhile later, but the flavor of the purest British essence flowing through every line of The Avengers scripts, was inexorably caught in this mythical season that, with "Honey For The Prince," would draw to a close.
Honey for the Prince
Plot: OK. Assassinating someone is always a good plot, but it is never really explained why Akardi wants to assassinate Prince Ali. I know it has something to do with oil, but a more thorough explanation would have been nice.
Humour: Good. Mr. B. Bumble and Hopkirk are quite, quite funny. The best line in the episode is when Hopkirk is trying to figure out Steed's fantasy. "Got it! You're a secret agent. Yes, indeed, ideal for you. License to kill, pitting your wits against a diabolical mastermind. Make a change from your everyday humdrum existence, wouldn't it?"
Acting: Very Good. Wonderfully eccentric performances from Ron Moody and Ken Parry. I also enjoyed Zia Mohyeddin's performance.
Miscellaneous: I like the opening scene of Steed and Emma returning from a party. It is nice to get a small peek into their lives outside of fighting diabolical masterminds. When Steed is talking to the colonel on the phone, it reminds me of Charlie Brown's teacher's voice from the Charlie Brown cartoons. The fight between Steed and Vincent was very good, as was the fight between Emma and Vincent.
Overall Rating: 6/10
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