The end of season 4 is something of a Clemens-athon, with 5 of the last 6 stories being by the associate producer – a run that included the magnificent A Touch of Brimstone and the offensive How to Succeed…At Murder and which now concludes with this episode. It’s certainly not of the calibre of the former, but it’s not quite as bad as the latter – though it’s only marginally less offensive. Season 4 really has been a season of two halves; so much brilliance at the start, followed by a mix of mediocrity and misfires, with only a couple of good episodes and one that’s truly outstanding.
Anyway, Honey For The Prince is one I remember particularly enjoying in my childhood – partly for the scene where Steed surprises himself by accidentally throwing the man he’s fighting out of a first floor window, and partly for all the “quite, quite fantastic” fantasy nonsense – especially the camera gun. Then there’s all the comedy stuff – the memorably stripy Mr Bumble, the disappearing genie with the lamp, and Steed describing Mrs Peel as ‘retarded’ (as a child the offensiveness of the term didn’t register) when she does the dance of the six veils owing to her inability to count.
But the Barabian polygamy manages to be offensive both in its lazy cultural assumptions (mitigated, somewhat, by Prince Ali being a closet cricketer who is ‘keeping up appearances’) and our heroes apparent acceptance of Ali’s 320 wives (compare this the the artless but sincere political commentary on foreign policy on The Outside-In Man). “We don’t want to offend the effendi.” Yeah, whatever. Let’s just carry on with treating women as chattels then.
Still there are things to like: the photography & design & general visual stunningness, Ron Moody’s fantasy designer, Steed and Emma coming home from a party at the beginning (over THE bridge, again, as seen in The Hour That Never Was and Two’s Company). And there’s one of those highly self-referential moments where Ponsonby-Hopkirk proposes a fantasy to Steed: “License to kill. Pitting your wits against a diabolical master mind. Make a change from your every day humdrum existence, wouldn’t it?”
Tag scene transport: Carpet (not a magic one).