The Master Minds
In this episode, several attractive women throw themselves at Steed, but his virtue remains intact. Davinia Todd goes the furthest: she flashes her bikini-clad body at Steed (this is obviously crucial to the development of the plot!). She gives rise to my favorite piece of dialogue in this episode: "You know, I wouldn't have screamed—I'd just have accepted my fate!" Steed: "I'll bear that in mind."
Patrick Macnee writes in Blind in One Ear about his days of training in the navy: "Above our beds in the girls' dormitories of Rodean were notices that read, 'If you want a mistress in the night, ring twice.'" (Really?)
I think the jokes about Steed's intelligence (or lack thereof) are a bit overdone here. I don't usually imagine myself discussing Proust with Steed, but he seems clever enough. And if Mrs. Peel is so brilliant, why is she behaving so goofily in the trampoline scene? Diana Rigg is still doing some of that dewy-eyed sultry stuff that she did in "The Murder Market," before she figured out how to be Mrs. Peel.
Bloopers: In the scene where Steed is being ushered into RANSACK headquarters, one of the "geniuses" is overheard saying that the word "yogurt" is the basis of the Norse language. Not even close—it's Turkish! And since when is one word the basis of any language? Also, in the opening scene Sir Todd appears to have been shot in the chest, but later on it's said to be a head wound.
The Master Minds
One of my favorite Avengers plots. The idea of using a collective of unwitting geniuses to perpetrate crimes is great. Add this to good Emma/Steed banter, and several amusing moments, and you have another top notch episode. Plus, I like Patricia Haines more here as Holly Trent than I do as Lola in "Who's Who???".
4 out of 5 bowlers.
The Master Minds
Ah, the mind! A mysterious component of the human body about which so little is known and so much is still wondered. From brainwash to mind transfer and psychic experiment, The Avengers has a rich history supported in several scripts related in one way or another to the power of mind. A list of all the episodes dealing with this theme in particular would be a bit tedious to make, but it is out of discussion that from its title, "The Master Minds" needs no further description to be placed amongst the favorites of the genre. Written by Robert Banks Stewart and directed by Peter Graham Scott—the latter being one of those who attended Diana Rigg's audition for the part of Mrs Peel—"The Master Minds" has also its own enchantment.
Initially, like in many other Avengers stories, the plot appears quite blurred. The long drawn-out sequences at Sir Clive's house during the first 20 minutes seem to put our own IQ to the test, since we must use our minds to find the thread that will lead you from here to Ransack. Is this a result of our ineptitude or the scriptwriter's? Also, the instinct for killing shown by a dependable and respected professional like Campbell is ambiguous... unless the conditioning received in Ransack was set off in a sort of step-like procedure, such as a mechanism of controlled release. At least we know this killer behavior wasn't triggered as it was in "House of Cards" (The New Avengers) by a card cut in half. Anyway, while we try to find the clues, these 20 minutes are still well worth the time—Emma dresses up as a nurse to poke around Sir Clive's mind, and Steed's eyes pop at the sight of Davinia's trim figure, who strips down to a two-piece bathing suit. That's something!
Finally things begin to warm up at Ransack. The scene during the entrance exam, in which Steed copies answers provided by Emma (the one with a high IQ) from his sleeve, is definitely a classic. However, Steed's intelligence is a bit underestimated, I would suggest. He may not be an ace at astronomy or thermodynamics, but at least he's the first to unplug the radio in his room (perhaps unconsciously at that point) and also the first to become aware that such devices had lots to do with the mental conditioning used on the Ransack members.
Nevertheless, both fail to prematurely find the true "Master Minds" mastermind. Incidentally, one is bound to say that it's hard to acknowledge Patricia Haines as being the same Lola of "Who's Who???" and Laura of "The Nutshell." Who would have believed it? Likewise, some reservations could be made regarding how far Mrs Peel's hypnotic trance goes along the episode, since she volunteers to dispose of Steed... but of course, in the end she doesn't. When exactly she discovers the true game played at Ransack, I failed to notice.
As usual, The Avengers end fights speak for themselves and the one in "The Master Minds" is another good example of the aforementioned. The weird touch Graham Scott gives to those silhouettes fighting in the background, whilst a RAF film is run on a screen both forwards and backwards, adds that bizarre element the episode sorely needed.
However, the training of intelligent individuals for criminal purposes hasn't appealed to all fans. Maybe the slow pace in the beginning and the cursory study of the characters are the main reasons. But I'm honestly unable to understand why, in spite of everything, "The Master Minds" is such a highly enjoyable episode I could gladly rewatch over and over. Maybe it has some particular charm that an ordinary mind like mine can't come to explain.
The Master Minds
Steed shots an arrow through a window — and Emma misses her shot!
"The Master Minds" is a good episode. RANSACK is an organization for smart people. When Steed takes the test to get into RANSACK, Emma does the test for him (and gives him the answers to all of the other tests). Another diabolical mastermind has the last name "Trent" (Simon Trent was in "Small Game for Big Hunters"). The bows they use during archery practice are most likely longbows. The tag scene (where Steed and Emma leave in the Bentley) is quite dull, though.
I give "The Master Minds" four bowlers.
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