“The Big Thinker” Review

Computers! For a moment I wondered if this was where The Avengers gets all futuristic and veers into sci-fi. Having its roots in ‘gritty’ crime drama, and then having developed into espionage, the fantasy stuff will cross-over, but this isn’t it. The computer (‘Plato’) is the size of a building, and requires sub-zero temperatures, but it’s about as advanced as a pocket calculator. The story is more exciting than a pocket calculator – but not much.

It’s another Steed-lite story, but unfortunately out of the four or so scenes he appears in, two are him bailing Cathy out of life-threatening situations; and in another, labouring the point, he says he’s sticking around to see the mess she’s making of the situation. It’s not quite clear why Cathy has taken an interest in the computer project – is it at Steed’s instigation or on her own? There’s been a murder, and Steed recognises the computer’s application in encryption, but it’s not initially apparent that there’s foul play. Steed is supposed to be jetting off to the Middle East (what’s he going to do there? After all those French episodes, have we got an episode set in Saudi Arabia coming up?)

Cathy shares most of her scenes with a ‘boy wonder’ who is supposed to be such a computer genius that his lack of social graces and generally grating personality are tolerated for that reason. Unfortunately, this means as viewers, we are obliged to tolerate for the best part of an hour as well.

Cathy does make reference to her late husband, and her previous life in Africa. Is this the first on-screen mention of this piece of back story?

Steed is apparently incapable of cooking an omelette, but he’s clearly a bit of an omelette snob (offered ham, cheese or herbs he disdains them all in favour of plain). And the dog he leaves Cathy to look after isn’t a dalmatian. What happened to Freckles? The campaign to bring back Freckles starts here!

About Simon Wood

Lecturer in medical education, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more...

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