The GLG Reports
Page 26 of 67

The Fear Merchants
By Grant L. Goggans

"You wanted your competitors eliminated. We have carried out your instructions." Now this is a treat. Combining the ruthless battles of the business world with the stock "phobia" plot that every adventure series has to touch on at least once makes for a very interesting story, and one that works on the silly level as strongly as the dramatic. The phobia angle is outlandish, done with an unreal sense of drama, and happily underplayed in favor of other elements, such as the eccentric nut Raven and the villains-of-the-week, some psychological extortionists called the Business Efficiency Bureau. The story is also helped by keeping the Avengers removed from the criminals for much of the episode. In fact, Steed doesn't learn about the BEB until 30 minutes into the story, and this gang is really one of the show's best-kept secrets. With dapper dress and sunglasses, they look like the Velvet Underground on Carnaby Street, and their headman Pemberton's constant talk of management, efficiency and competition rings even truer in today's Dilbert-loving society, when we know how stupid that jargon is. The direction is mostly inspired, particularly as Andrew Keir is driven to his death, although there are some angled shots of Steed after Raven is admitted to a hospital that are ripped straight from the Batman playbook. There's an incredibly cool fight between Gilbert and Steed in a quarry after Gilbert's failed to bury him with dirt from an earthmover, and when the construction equipment begins to slowly topple over the edge of the hole, the scene gets unbelievably tense! Other things to watch out for are the incredible sets: the BEB headquarters is a stark white affair with business slogans written on the walls. Wardrobe is a little spotty. Diana Rigg is dressed in a hideous ochre dress after Raven goes to the hospital that makes her look pregnant. A few moments later, though, she's wearing a shocking black number with large metal buckles and great holes cut out from around her hips. Predictably, it's in this outfit that Pemberton ties her to a chair.

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Page last modified: 5 May 2017.

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