This does have good atmosphere and the music is deliciously eerie. But overall, it just doesn't work for me. The story drags. And the eccentrics annoy rather than entice or enchant me, particularly Ola. The late Peter Jeffrey (who was marvelous in Doctor Who's "The Androids of Tara"—yes, Tara) is wasted here, showing up only at the end. His scene works quite well. But by that point I fear that I've been bored and put off by the long scenes of Mrs. Peel running around the house and by the machinations of Ola and the funny little man.
One and a half bowlers.
I really liked The Avengers episode "The Joker." It is one of my favorites because I loved how Mrs. Peel kept running around in the hallways when she heard a noise just to find out that someone had been in the room! Sometimes I thought it was getting a little boring when Mrs. Peel kept running about, but most of the time I thought it was spooky and fun. I was really shocked when suddenly a voice kept saying, "Emma." I thought Ola was funny and I thought that the man that came into the house was very strange, but overall I wish that Steed could have been in it more often. But I can see why the Joker wanted Steed to hurt his ankle so that he couldn't help Mrs. Peel. I really enjoyed this marvelous, thrilling, mischievous episode.
Although this episode is slow in getting started, it still manages to fascinate and draw me into its claustrophobic atmosphere. Emma is at her best, running around that spooky old house, confused but still determined. The whole thing is very 60s, especially Ola, who reminds you of Twiggy or one of Charles Manson's followers. At the end you're really rooting for Emma as she engages in a fight to the death. One of the great things about the character of Emma Peel is her reluctance to kill unless she has to. Notice how she backs away from the murderer, issuing repeated warnings with what she believes is a loaded gun. This is one of the things which make her a true heroine, in great contrast to the female "heroes" of today who are more prone to take justice into their own hands.
I agree wholeheartedly with the review statement that Emma gives Steed a look which is priceless in the final scene. It's the look of someone who has come very close to death, and survived. It's amazing how a good actor or actress can make you believe for a few moments that what you're seeing is real. And Diana Rigg is about the best there is.
Plot: Excellent. A wonderful story of revenge with elements of horror, mystery, and suspense. It was nice to see that someone finally returns from wherever to extract revenge upon the Avengers. This was a twisted love story.
Humour: Good. "You did it to keep me here." "Now ,why would I want to do that?" "I've got vitality, charm..." "You've got a vivid imagination." Nothing very funny here, but this is more of a thriller episode, so humour wouldn't fit well here.
Direction: Excellent. Many fantastic shots. My favorite is the closeup of Prendergast's eye and the shot of Prendergast in the garden from the window.
Acting: Excellent. This episode had a very small cast, but they all did very well.
Music: Excellent. Meine Liebe, Meine Rose.
Miscellaneous: There is a wonderful sinister touch to this episode. Ola has to be one of the most emotionally twisted people on the show! I definitely would not have lent my car to Ola. Emma was certainly glad to see Steed.
Overall Rating: 10/10
On the one hand, "The Joker" is a slick, conventional woman-in-jeopardy story seen many times before. On the other hand (trump hand?), its pacing, suspense and playing-card themed art direction is superb, and the quirky characters of Ola, Prendergast, and the young man at the door (a.k.a., the Baron Von Dufie) are worth the price of admission alone in this dark, stylish tale. Another plus is its distinctive musical score that can't be heard on any other episode.
The Joker stands out among the color episodes as one of the best. We are treated to Ola's manic non-sequiturs and Emma's restrained, if not subtly sarcastic attempts to communicate with this strange young woman in an old mansion with swinging doors made to look like giant playing cards. Emma's sober demeanor played against Ola's flightiness provides an undertone of comic nuance that is lacking in the second half of the episode. The quirky young man who comes to the door offers yet another opportunity for a contrast with Emma's gravitas. In this situation, however, Emma is losing her patience, and opportunities for comic relief were not exploited to their fullest by the writers. This scene, as well as others, could have certainly used more of Diana Rigg's sly tongue-in-cheek postures that normally suffuse The Avengers with an ironic undertone.
This is not to say that Emma's increasing irritation with the stranger, culminating in a surprise arm-twisting, didn't make me giggle at her effortless audacity. It's just that the opportunity for her to initiate some playful banter with him was not exploited here. And when she breaks down the door behind which the body of the young man rocks peacefully in a chair, her temper explodes in a truly frightening manner. One could say that this awesomeness comes with the territory of being Emma. Yet in her fearful reaction to the hidden threat in the house, we do get some glimpses of a childlike vulnerability. The softer, more playful side to her personality, however, is not sustained for any length of time in ways that would make us sympathize with her plight. Instead we see her growing annoyance and building rage.
Yes, some of us can get downright bitchy when faced with danger, but this Emma seems different, more high-toned. Listen carefully and you'll notice that Diana Rigg's accent evokes a more aristocratic Emma during her stay at Sir Cavalier's house, as if she were portraying a great lady of the manor in some theatrical period piece. Emma Peel's station in life as a woman of privilege is usually portrayed with soft edges, but in "The Joker," she comes off as subtly arrogant in both her tone and body language.
No other episode reveals the diva side of Emma to this extent. This begins at the outset, when she proudly asks Steed if he read her article on bridge and boasts to him that Sir Cavalier, who hardly sees anyone, has requested her company. Emma's efforts to impress Steed seem out of character and a bit uppity here. Her haughty tone in dealing with her fellow protagonists continues throughout the The Joker, as though she's assigned them to a lower class by virtue of her superior station in life. Interestingly, there are subtle references to class distinction contained in the young man's grandiose claim of being the "Baron Von Dufie," followed by his deflated admission that his "jalopy" was parked outside, as well as Ola's anxiety over serving red wine with fish.
Emma's justifiable annoyance with circumstances beyond her control notwithstanding, there's an air of superiority to her personality here that feels class-defined. This is my main quibble with "The Joker," mostly because I'm a huge Emma fan and hate to see episodes where she acts out of character. And yes, downright bitchy. Speaking of acting out of character, how could the cool, calculating and brilliant Emma Peel allow crazy Ola to drive her beautiful Lotus Elan when she couldn't even utter a coherent sentence? Is it pure altruism or the expendability of material goods afforded only to the wealthy?
The final confrontation between Emma and the hidden threat in the house that's revealed as Prendergast, offers some comic relief in the form of Prendergast himself, a pathetic thin-lipped weasel of a man who speaks with a bad German accent tinged with French, evoking the image of Pepe Le Pew, the cartoon skunk from Looney Tunes. The building tension between Emma and Prendergast, which culminates in a short but finely tuned fight scene, is relieved by Steed's comical surprise rescue.
There are enough quirky and clever plot twists and turns, some involving Steed, to keep the viewer glued to their seat throughout "The Joker." The tag, however, did not live up to the rest of the episode. After the ordeal at Sir Cavalier's mansion, one would expect Steed and Emma to share a few moments more intimate than the two of them fussing over a card trick during which Emma's face never turns to camera. This was another wasted opportunity in a very good episode that could have been even better.
Perhaps my favorite episode certainly in my thoughts and on my tongue frequently, The Joker is a spooky foray into a place at "Then end of the world" "Nobody stays for long here" Our dear Emma is tricked into a weekend with a cast of dastardly no-good-niks. A winning performance by Sally Nesbitt As Olah, the kooky, quirky housekeeper ward who says "Bells for ringing and bringing me to you" "I like Italian words, they're so r-r-rolly." "Dove L'ingresso" "Have I shown you my teeth" a complete nut case and so scary... "Nice hurt" the foreshadow of modern adolescent angst? The other characters pale in comparison, even Emma's suave poise is ruffled in this episode which blows the roof off most others.
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