One of only a couple of Avengers episodes remaining that I’ve never seen, and with this, I haven’t missed much. The killer’s POV shots are overused to the point of becoming tiresome, and the reveal, when it comes, completely fails to match up to the victims looking up at their killer, and having huge tears in their clothing… All the bloodless scratching made me think of The Winged Avenger. And the big cats in the home counties was a bit Big Game for Small Hunters, though without any of the tension or wit of that episode. The first half has some promise, but as it devolves into whimsy with P.U.R.R.R (Philanthropic Union for Rescue Relief and Recuperation) and Ronnie Barker’s unlikeable eccentric, the story loses any starch it may have possessed. And, inexcusably, there’s no fight at the end of this one. What were they thinking?
Steed is shown a piece of film of a lion. The film appears to be The House That Jack Built though it’s in colour! Remarkable! The cat funeral also gets Laurie Johnson’s funeral theme from The Grave-Diggers.
I will admit to enjoying Steed (and Emma) creating fictional feline counterparts to each other… “The name of your pussy?” “Emma” replies Steed. Is this the first time he has used her first name on screen? Emma describes her cat Johnny as being grumpy in the morning “before he has his first glass of champagne”. Speaking of champagne, Steed brings a bottle on a stakeout, and Emma recognises the sound of a cork popping over their radio link.
There’s a reference to Cathy in this (though more oblique than in Too Many Christmas Trees) as Mrs Peel observes “pussies galore”.
There was one good gag: doing a feline photo-fit (the ‘identicat’). And credit for the fact that although one of The Avengers gets tied to a chair in this story, it’s not Emma for once.
The big plot hole is not the rather far-fetched notion of a device that can affect the cat’s brainwaves. I genuinely think an entertaining story could possible have been crafted around that idea. Rather it’s the fact that this explanation doesn’t account for the huge rends in the victim’s garments, nor the fact that they looked up at their attackers. Nor, if I’m blunt, the fact that no cat, no matter how angry (and I’ve met a few bad tempered ones) could beat even me in a fight. Now if they’d acted as a pack, that would’ve been truly frightening…
Subtitle: Steed hunts a big cat. Emma is badly scratched.
We’re needed: Emma is stripping wallpaper in her apartment, and reveals her message (Cathy would have had someone decorate, and move in with Steed while they did).