The £50,000 Breakfast
This is an episode that I have found rather intriguing. It's not just another one of those Gale episodes (Death of a Great Dane) remade into a Peel adventure. It's one that Brian Clemens did but of another author's work. Like the other redone stories (all of which Clemens seems to be responsible for), the basic plot seems somewhat out of place in the Peel series. However, in this case there are interesting changes done in the script that provide a richer subtext, thus making the episode overall more fascinating.
As stated by David K Smith, "Breakfast" has a slicker and more stylish look and feel than "Dane" even with the removal of the best scene of the original episode (the wine tasting duel). There is a deliberateness to the mis-en-scene to evoke a certain mood and texture to the drama in specific scenes. The Litoff office is shot brightly with a futuristic, efficient, almost angular feel. We get the full sense of a company that's constantly on the go and single-minded even when nothing is actually happening. This greatly contrasts with the shop of Mrs. Rhodes which has a dark, archaic and noir-ish look to it. It's nicely sets-up the eerie murder scene later on. And there is the cigar smoking club which mirrors Sir James' disposition and dreams of a rural paradise.
The performances for the characters of the Doctor and Butler in both episodes are good and really a matter of personal taste as to which is better.
The key change is turning Goff into Miss Pegram. As in the case of altering the gender of the lead character of the movie The Front Page to make His Girl Friday, we get a new dimension to the story. By making the character into a woman, Clemens provides the villain with a much stronger motivation. Combined with Yolande Turner's effectively icy performance, we get a much more dangerous adversary for our heroes.
More importantly, Clemens is able to more effectively explore the concept he presented in How to Succeed at Murder. He creates a character that is essentially the anti-Mrs. Peel, but who was created from a sexist world. Unlike Emma, who is married and inherited her company, Miss Pegram is single and had to fight her way to the head of the business amongst a continual wave of chauvinism. The final fight underscores this as it is between the two of them. And although it is a brief battle, she is able to go toe to toe with Emma. (And she was doing it in a mini-skirt.) And then there is the change in a piece of dialogue when Steed and Emma are locked up in the bedroom. In the original, Steed says Goff is the "tough one." In the remake, Emma says Miss Pegram is the "tough one."
The £50,000 Breakfast
The £50,000 Breakfast is one of the many examples of why The Avengers remains one of the great British TV shows.
This episode just about has everything you'd want. We have a gloriously eccentric story, Steed and Mrs Peel on top form and fantastic if a little scary villains. Glover truly gives the impression he is a nasty piece of work, while retaining his well-spoken butler persona — magnificent! And it's always great to see strong women as formidable baddies. Miss Pegrum's fight with Emma at the end is exciting because she is able to go toe-to-toe with our heroine.
A truly exceptional episode and one fully deserving of five bowlers out of five!
The £50,000 Breakfast
Plot: Excellent. Taken from the Cathy Gale era, so it has to be good. A little unexciting because I saw "Death of a Great Dane" before this. A good believable story with a nice twist.
Humour: OK. "They found some hair on Rhodes' suit." "Blonde, brunette, or redhead?" "Blonde. A specimen of Russian wolf hound." Not much humour, but really not necessary.
Acting: Very Good. Cecil Parker gives a chilling performance—rather mild-mannered until he reveals what he is going to do with the money. Yolande Turner did well.
Music: Excellent. There is a wonderfully sinister piece that plays when Steed leaves the Litoff offices the first time.
Tag: Good. I have never liked ties with animations or drawings on them, so I'm with Steed.
Miscellaneous: The matte picture of Big Ben in the Litoff office was horribly fake, but I wonder if it was meant to be obviously so, because Steed says something to the effect that Big Ben has moved or something. Patrick must have had an easy time on this one considering some of the dialogue was word-for-word from "Death of a Great Dane." Mrs. Pegram makes quite an impressive jump up from the floor in the end fight. It was startling to hear Mrs. Pegram call Glover "lover"—why, he's old enough to be her father.
Overall Rating: 8/10
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