“The Superlative Seven” Review

So, we come to the second remake. This is both an episode based on one I thought excellent and so worthy of being remade, and an episode that I enjoyed before I knew it was based on an earlier one. Having seen both the original and the remake, I think that Dressed to Kill is the superior (so the both remakes so far have been inferior, though the bar was set much higher in this second case). However the reason that I enjoy this version still applies: Charlotte Rampling. Though Rampling is every bit as lovely as I remember, there’s little chemistry, and no real partnership, with Steed. She doesn’t quite play Steed’s partner (although the name of her character, Hana Wilde, would be adopted as the name – with an extra n and an h – of Steed’s partner in theatrical production of The Avengers) since she doesn’t really work with him – there’s a mutual suspicion. However, this is an Emma-lite episode (unlike Dressed to Kill in which Cathy was more involved) following on from the last episode being Steed-lite; and Charlotte Rampling is certainly the co-star. This, despite the fact that the episode is not light on star-power: Donald Sutherland and Brian Blessed also appear.

There are a few changes (beyond changing to train to a plane): Clemens has added an unnecessary super-plot about selling super-warriors to a world power. The simple and effective-if-implausible plots-of-land-near-radar-stations conceit in the original intruded far less, and the secret behind the selection of the party members was kept secret – contributing to the tension. Having the plane being remote controlled, with a voice explaining the situation to the seven, removes and element of mystery for both the seven and the viewer – it undermines the atmosphere. And the opening with all the karate experts, and the unconvincing oriental, made me think I’d put in an episode of The New Avengers by mistake…

That gun sound effect – the ricochet – is heard again in this one.

There’s a disappointing asymmetry with Epic too. In that, Steed deduced a trap had been laid for Emma, and rescued her from the circular saw in the nick of time. In this, while Emma gets to drop in and rescue Steed, it’s because “we made a little arrangement”. Emma therefore doesn’t quite get to return the favour, emphasising the imbalance between episode where Steed does the rescuing, and those where Emma does.

I will admit I had forgotten the clever twist in this one. I did think there was cheating in disguising the killer, which shows that I have lost some faith in the attention to detail in the plotting. There wasn’t; I should have had faith; the twist is clever, well prepared, and hard to see coming.

Subtitle: Steed flies to nowhere. Emma does her party piece.

We’re needed: Steed is shooting. Emma provides a rubber duck. “Steed. You’re needed.”

About Simon Wood

E-learning officer, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more...

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