“Bizarre” Review

So, that’s in then. The final notes of The Shake die away. The last of the (original) Avengers. 137 episodes… and they chose to end with this one. Bizarre.

We’re back to the story (such as it is – financiers faking death to avoid disgrace) being clothes horse to hang a series of gags and comedy performances from. Roy Kinnear is back for his fourth and last appearance. He’s even more over the top than he was in The See-Through Man. Fulton Mackay is back; he’s always good, but has been served badly in The Avengers appearing three times, but only in the last two – the weakest – seasons.

The sets are garish, the story is very studio-bound, the fight choreography is sluggish, the writing is slapdash. How does The Master create the ‘illusion’ of death? How come Steed (and Cordell) were buried so quickly – is there no due process – no coroners report after a car accident? Is there no funeral? Even Mother had a funeral a few episodes back…

There is a sequence with a struggle in a guards van on a train (a flashback – unusual for The Avengers – a new trick, even at this late stage?) Shots of the fight within the ‘interior’ are intercut with the train speeding through the countryside. Unfortunately even basic continuity is ignored: the discredited financier opens a sliding door from the inside, but the external shots reveal the train comprises a rake of Mk2 carriages which, of course, have only slam doors.

There have been far better Avengers stories involving cemeteries and burials… The Grave Diggers, The Murder Market, and The Living Dead to name but three.

Even the usually reliable Laurie Johnson disappoints – the fight scene is accompanied by an extraordinary reworking of The Shake that simply adds to the whole impression that this episode is a parody. It’s self-parody. After a brief (and, I think, quite successful) experiment with taking itself seriously, The Avengers is just reverting to camping it up in the hope that it will disguise the laziness in the plotting.

If only they had ended on the episode produced before this one – Take Over. That would have been going out on a high – and a statement of ambition of what the show could become, if it were to be renewed.

Instead, it was cancelled, and the tag scene manages to be even sillier than those we’ve had lately, with Steed building a rocket ‘in his back yard’ (though because they use stock footage, it’s clearly not) and Tara accidentally firing them both into space, thereby finally getting Steed to herself. Steed thinks he can get it down – but “what’s the hurry”? Mother, gatecrashing the tag scene for the third time, breaks the fourth wall to assure us ‘they’ll be back’ before noting they’re unchaperoned.

But they weren’t back. That was the end of The Avengers

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About Simon Wood

Lecturer in medical education, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more...

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