The Young Avenger
Direction: Four out of five. James Bevan, who plays Gintend in The Limit of Human Conquest...?, is in the same boarding house at school as George Lawrence, the grandson of the director here. Therefore, as I have a link with the man himself, I can safely say that he lives up to the standard of his direction, which is about as good as it comes in the series. Only Charles Crichton can beat him in this respect. Well done!
Plot: Three and a half out of five. For an episode that is at number ten on my list, to have such a low score for a plot might be seen as silly. However, I also love "Dead Man's Treasure," which has no plot at all, so this is not really a handicap for me. What there is is intelligently worked out, extremely silly, but even so just plain Avengers. Malcolm Hulke's last solo script for the series certainly makes the grade.
Music: Four out of five. For the majority of the episode, we are treated to a wonderfully silly theme as the undertakers run around after various coffins. Then, at the end, it is the silent film train fight music. All of it is just so superb that I listen to the soundtrack on tape!
Wittiness: Five out of five. This is what put Hulke very high up on the writers' list as well as the top ten list. Almost every line has a degree of humour in it, which means that we do not have to take it seriously, which is of course what the series is all about, anyway. Just listen to this: "Whatever's that young lady doing tied to the railway tracks? She'll break the engine." Steed on being an engine driver: "There's no security, always on the move." "Well, at least it will keep you on the straight and narrow," replies Emma.
Action: Four out of five. There might really be only one fight in this episode, but what a fight! Steed versus the villain on the carriages of the model train, and occasionally ducking down to avoid the shots fired at him. And you thought this was a serious episode! Hilarity abounds.
Cars/Sets/Locations: Five out of five. Steed acquires his Vauxhall 30/98 (the first time that it is seen in the series), and we have a Humber hearse. Also, in the introduction, we have a Ford Zodiac being used as a funeral car. Its ancestor, the Ford Scorpio, is still used in such a capacity today. Then there are the superb hospital and train set sequences indoors (with the tacky motion simulator!) by the piece de resistance is the railway sequences. Great, some of the best location filming ever done.
Introduction/Tag: Four and a half out of five. This episode would get five if the train did not start off going backwards in the tag. The silliness rating goes out of the window when they get on, and ride the train away! It does not get much better than this! Then we also have the introduction, which is also utterly baffling, seeing the coffin's antenna rising up from the ground. It does not get much better than this.
Overall Impression: Fine direction, a wonderful eccentric performance from Ronald Fraser and a totally mad plot make this one of the best ever seen. There are just so many wonderful little scenes in this, but I will mention that time when Steed is having a good lunch with Horace Winslip, where the footman organises everything, and then has to be at the ticket office so that Steed can merely get into the room! I could go on and on, but you would just want to watch the episode, so if you ever get the chance, do so.
Rating: Nine and a half out of ten.
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