Another guilty pleasure. Someone in the security service thinks “I know, we’ll gather all of our most vulnerable agents – the injured ones – and put them in one place.” For some reason this seemed like a better idea than keeping them incognito in various separate medical establishments, and inevitably the place is widely known about (Tara instantly understands the reference to Department S., also the name of the show that the writer, Terry Nation, would soon work on). Best of all, this convalescent home for broken agents is surrounded by a minefield and an electric fence. “Have we forgotten anything?” I imagine the mastermind who designed all this thinking to himself, tapping with his pencil on the easel on which his sketched out plans lie. He gazes out of the window, and frowns as a helicopter flies past. Something nags at the back of his mind, but it’s five o’clock and he’s meeting a new girlfriend at the pub, so he shrugs and slams the office door on his way out.
I like it because it’s another western. It’s certainly nowhere near as good as Murdersville, and it’s a lot less subtle in plundering the genre. It’s most definitely High Noon (to Murdersville‘s Bad Day At Black Rock) but I think there’s maybe a touch of Once Upon a Time in the West there too.
There’s a hint of spaghetti in the score – which is by Howard Blake. I only recently learned that there was another composer on besides Laurie Johnson on the filmed Avengers series and Howard “The Snowman” Blake did ten episodes including Game, Super Secret Cypher Snatch, Poor George and All Done With Mirrors. This is the one that’s convinced me to get the newly released CD of his music.
The locations are even more wonderful: a deserted railway station, and a farm (apparently owned at the time by producer Brian Clemens). Tara gets to do some terrific stunts (Steed is the patient in this coop) leaping over walls and tumbling into hay bales.
Best of all is the photography. Every shot in this is beautifully composed, beautifully lit. Every single frame is an artwork.
The assassins’ dialogue is mannered and deliberately dissonant, yet I found it hugely entertaining. One of them is discussing a birthday present for a niece. “I wonder if she’s to old for a doll’s house?” They’re not equal opportunities assassins either: “With a boy it’s easy. Just lay down a hogshead of claret…”
The low point in the episode is, as usual, Mother. In this instance, his misogyny reaches new depths: “You know what I like about you Rhonda? Your complete noiselessness. A rare quality in a woman.” Ugh.
In the convalescents’ barn, everyone hits on Tara. Steed’s urgent desire to ‘protect’ the ‘vulnerable’ Miss King re-emerges when he plans to lock her away. “I’d be worried about you. Get us both killed.” That’s your problem, surely, Steed? Fortunately Tara agrees and lays him out cold. She then proceeds to wipe out all of the assassins without letting worry about Steed’s vulnerability (he’s unconscious as well as lame) get her killed…