Suddenly, there’s a shift. The Avengers has become larger than life.
We have a pair of conniving solicitors, gleefully revelling in lawyerly deviance as they sip brandy in front of an open fire. We have Steed playing a role, and Cathy as his enemy – but who writes his dialogue? “I’ll stop your blasted lies for good if you’re not careful.”
We have at the high concept of legal advice on the defence case prior to a murder.
“I want to commit a murder.”
“One lump or two, Mr Steed?”
The Avengers is confidently finding its new niche, high on wit and charm, unburdened by grit. But it’s not all good news. In terms of the infamous memo about Avengerland, there policemen in this one and entire courtroom scenes. These scenes clash terribly with the tone of the piece, and the dialogue made me cringe (the barrister talking about “Jonno” working for “the other side” is supposed to be legally admissible?) And despite the fantasy element becoming stronger, it still seems extraordinary that Steed’s department would be allowed to let a fake crime go to trial.
While it’s wonderful to have John Laurie back for his second of four appearances (following Death of a Great Dane) there appears to have been no restraint exercised to prevent him from chewing the scenery.
The clashes between Steed and Cathy over his methods that were becoming dominant towards the end of season two seem to have been dropped. Though Cathy is pissed off at Steed making her take an unnecessary swim….
The writer of this confidently cartoonish season opener? Brian Clemens, who would play such a crucial role in the shows development, with only his third script (after Brought to Book and One For The Mortuary) and the earliest of his episodes to survive.