The Winged Avenger
This isn't really a great episode—in fact, I think it's darned overrated by a lot of people—but it's definitely a good one, especially if you're a Batman fan. Some very memorable guest performances, capable direction and music, and a certainly a... unique end fight make it that, and I'm rather at a loss why it just doesn't grab me further.
First of all, this features wonderful wit in every respect, including some terrific banter by Steed and Mrs. Peel. I most enjoy the amazing red-herring mountain climber that practices in his house, but the vampiric Professor Poole is fun, too. The beginning contains surrealistic humor, as a father gives his son lessons in firing people. And then, when you think it's all over, we get an actor who takes his part a little too seriously. EEEE-URRP!
The plot is certainly bizarre, but it's much more realistic than most of the season five episodes. After all, if we can take androids, cybernauts, brain-switching machines, etc., I'm sure we can take magnetic boots. And this leads to some wonderful directorial shots with an upside-down fight at the end. There's also that nice swipe at Batman, with Steed getting to impersonate Adam West by (too easily) defeating the Avenger with sound effect panels.
There are the usual few holes. How does Packer draw everything just as it happens? (It does look cool, mind you). How does Steed know at which time what panel is happening? Why does Packer kill Julian? How does Tai-Ling figure out that Packer is the killer, not his partner? Why does Sir Lexius Cray act so creepy? Why does Packer's partner act so creepy? But (most) of these are minor quibbles, as usual.
My only major complaint, preventing this show from being "great", is the lack of action. The end fight is interestingly shot and done, but it's just not very exciting. Steed clobbers Packer too quickly before we can savor what's going on. Well, you can't have it all with every show...
The Winged Avenger
I have singled out this episode as a representative example of what I think started going wrong with the show in its last years. It appeared in a few of the Diana Rigg episodes in her second season, and often in the Tara King episodes.
Basically, the writers were making the show steadily more violent, perhaps in a misguided effort to draw in the new American audiences. The story line of "The Winged Avenger" and others like it consists of little else but killing. Create five or so victims, spend about 10 minutes each setting them up and then killing them in sadistic ways, and hey, you have your 50 minute episode. Just add the prologue and epilogue.
Concurrently with the increasing violence, the show (even in the second Rigg season) began losing its sense of fantasy and whimsy. There was almost none at all in the Tara King episodes. I think the best season of the show's entire run was the first Rigg season, done in black and white. This season had its violence of course—after all, it was a spy show—but much less of it, and not in a sneering sadistic fashion. Steed and Emma were allowed to look disgusted or horrified at a given murder, whereas in later seasons our heroes would ignore it or crack almost necrophilia jokes.
These markers of the show's decline can all be found in "The Winged Avenger," among others. As for the earlier stories—almost pure gold, I say.
The Winged Avenger
The jury is still out on this one. I just can't decide if I like it or not.
Certainly it is as daft an episode as "Epic." It also doesn't really have any plot to speak of, like "Epic." But there is something that makes me dig it out and watch it from time to time.
Character-wise there really isn't that much to speak of, though hats off to Stanton's crazed speech about the Winged Avenger's omnipotence. Very Graham Chapman/Eric Idle. Professor Poole is a bit too silly, but I suppose it fits the episode. Tay-Ling is just frightful. It really does take the wind from one's sails when a clearly non-Asian is made out to be one. Couldn't they afford Bert Kwouk a fourth time? That John Garrie bloke has done this Asian impersonating before, you know? He was an equally bad Japanese man in the Danger Man episode "Koroshi" from 1966. I think Freddie the bird of prey (don't know what sort) played a good part! Though why you'd call him Freddie I don't know. It's a bit... well... you know? Visions of Freddie Mercury. A special mention goes out to Julian when he "can't somehow" say "aaargh!" Great delivery.
I thought the indoor "third ledge of the Eiger" was a hoot, and the jumping out of the window to have tea on the terrace. Very Avengers. Speaking of jumps, if Emma could leap that high wall without touching it, and after only about four strides, why did she need the boots to sort Packer out at the end? She seemed to be able to fly herself!
I found the newspaper headlines quite amusing: "Hippo with toothache drags keeper into pool," "She's cross, she's fed up!," "Britain to sell US bombs for Vietnam." Bit of a strange mix for a front page! I wonder what happened to those cartoon drawings—they'd be worth a bob or two today, I'll bet.
I think the walking on the ceiling and walls bits were very well done. I find the end fight scene particularly funny if you lie on your back and watch it upside down. Don't ask me why, but that bit of wire in Emma's shoulder strap so it looks like it is hanging down (or up?) cracks me up.
The best parts of this episode are the Steed/Emma bits. The scene where she puts her chin on his shoulder is just lovely. Interesting role reversal when Steed takes the scientific approach while Emma does the B&E. Proves one thing, Steed should stick to burglary. Although the second of his two theories is very funny, though you'd have to bribe the doorman an awful lot to get in wearing that costume.
A mixed bag this one. If I had my own bowlers marking scheme, I'd have to give it two and a half. If you're in the mood, then it could be worth it, otherwise you'll own this one to say you have the whole collection.
The Winged Avenger
Plot: OK. A comic creator is mad and becomes his creation then begins walking up walls with special boots. Hmmm...
Humour: Excellent. I enjoyed Professor Poole's attempted flight and many other things involving him. I liked all of Steeds possible ways into the building especially his suggestion of the murderer bribing the doorman. But for the humour section, need I say more than, "Eeeeeeee Urp!"?
Direction: Excellent. Wonderful trick camerawork with Professor Poole and the Winged Avenger walking up the wall. The fight between Emma and the Winged Avenger was nicely filmed. The transition of real life to comics and vice versa was nice.
Acting: Excellent. Wonderful performances from Jack MacGowran and Colin Jeavons.
Music: Very Good. Nice homage by using a version of the Batman theme song when Steed fights the winged avenger.
Tag: Good. Ping!
Miscellaneous: When I was younger I often watched the re-runs of Batman on television, so it was wonderful to see The Avengers pay homage to one of my favorite childhood shows. This episode starts off rather slow but eventually becomes a great episode. When Mrs. Peel makes a visit to Sir Lexius Cray's house at midnight, she makes a jump over a wall that is physically impossible—go back and take a look at it. Although Mrs. Peel says she is making a midnight visit to Sir Lexius Cray's house, it appears to be around seven o'clock. I know they couldn't film at midnight because of lighting problems, but still... One thing that disturbed me is when Sir Lexius Cray finds Tay-Ling dead with Mrs. Peel next to the body, he does not appear suspicious of Mrs. Peel. Look out for Emma's hat at the end of the episode—it was quite strange and not to my liking.
Overall Rating: 8/10
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