The Young Avenger
Direction: Four out of five. James Hill has been one of the most prolific directors on the series, and as this is his first episode, it is great to see that the flair is evident right from the start. It is a real shame that he ended up on utter rubbish like "Epic," but at least his last one, "Faces," was up to standard. Oh, sorry, the direction. Well, it is well up to the standards that John Lucarotti's uncompromsing script deserves. We have lots of dark, shadowy imagery and some great handheld camera work. Well done, but perhaps not the most stunning debut ever (John Hough springs to mind).
Plot: One and a half out of five. Although I am sometimes a fan of plot-free episodes ("Dead Man's Treasure" for example), this one has very little plot, and then tries to extract a lot from it, which is not a good idea, as unnecessary and confusing bits creep in at the end, and everyone is lost. Oh dear, shame about it, the rest is so good!
Music: Four out of five. Having recently visited Scotland, I can confirm that there are some people who like to walk around in kilts playing the bagpipes, but I am not one of them. However, the score for this episode is superb, despite the fact that it was filmed in Kent, which is about as un-Scottish as you can get in England!
Wittiness: Three out of five. I know that this is not really a funny lines, but when I showed this episode to one of my friends, he could not stop laughing at it. "That's him. You can see, his rod's poking out from behind that bush." This might not even be the line, as it was not as funny for me to record it, so there we are, some people for you. My favourite is "Lean on me, Mistress Peel, as much as you like."
Action: Four out of five. One of the missed opportunities I have been talking about is the lack of a Thunderball-style underwater battle at the end. All right, so the end fight has lots of swords, guns, iron maidens and goodness knows what else in it, but we have some underwater filming, it looks as if it was nice weather, so why not do something about it? If this had happened, this would be my favourite episode.
Cars/Sets/Locations: Three and a half out of five. Doubtless one of the problems that the production crew faced by not filming in Scotland was the the fact that they had to insert random shots of the Scottish countryside into the exteriors shots of the castle in Kent and also make sure that we never saw the surrounding country (thank you to my mother, who used to live in Kent and knows the castle). Apart from this, the sets are all right, except for the banqueting hall which is superb, and did you see the Amphicar at the end? These steel car-boats used Triumph Herald mechanicals and were built in Germany from 1963-65.
Introduction/Tag: Four out of five. Apart from the Amphicar mentioned above (a great move by the team), the introduction is very good, showing off the spooky house and then coming down to the rack, with lots of hand-held camera work on the way. Great!
Overall Impression: Gordon Jackson and Robert Urquhart have a wonderful time as the two brothers who seem to change roles, when it has been proved that Ian is the villain! But why did he invite Emma to the castle in the first place? Add to that the really confusing rest of the plot (not that there is much of it, it seems almost as if it was forgotten about in a quest for atmosphere), a script which is not as good as some others, and I cannot give this one a high score. Also, why not have Emma being the diver, not Steed? Then the Emma rating would go off the scale, and this would be my favourite episode. I can just imagine a wonderful Thunderball-style battle, with Steed and Emma defeating the bad guys. However, it does have some lovely direction, an absolutely spot sense of Scottish nationalism and pride, and Emma in those costumes! Great!
Rating: Seven and a half out of ten.
materials copyrighted per their respective copyright holders.