“Sleeper” Review

5am on a Sunday morning and the only people awake in a section of London are The New Avengers and a bus load of looters. Like The Hour That Never Was and The Morning After this episode trades on the atmosphere of a abnormally deserted location. Cars in the middle of the street, policeman asleep against signposts, etc. The apparent narcolepsy is actually caused by an airborne weapon called S95 which Steed, Gambit and Purdey have just seen being demonstrated, and so still benefit from the inoculation they were given for the purposes of ensuring they stayed awake during the display.

It is one of my favourite New Avengers episodes, though I was a little more critical on this viewing – perhaps because I’ve now seen The Morning After to which is bears quite some similarity, and which I’d probably consider to be superior. Sleeper is, by comparison, a little too interested in the comedy vignettes such as Purdey pretending to be a shop dummy and her trousers falling down, or Steed and Gambit playing asleep at a bus stop but edging closer to the armed robber when he wasn’t looking. Never the less, it’s well suited to the style of The New Avengers giving us a chance to see how our characters play on an empty stage. Purdey is separated from the others for the whole episode – running around in her blue satin pyjamas, after locking herself out – while Steed and Gambit stop at a cafe and loot themselves a couple of cold beers (at 7am on a Sunday?) though Steed’s style of looting involves leaving a pound folded under the bottle.

I’m not sure if the ‘no police’ rule was ever supposed to apply to The New Avengers but if so it gets broken. We get a couple of uniformed plods whose dialogue is less than sparkling. “Siren? Why not. If it’s good enough for Kojak, it’s good enough for us.”

Purdey can fly a helicopter – though whether it’s a good idea to do so when the inoculation may wear off at any moment is another matter.

For once Steed has arranged with an agent that they will rendezvous in London, rather than his country residence. This leads to another of my favourite Gambit/Steed moments (second only to Gambit’s pump action clay pigeon shooting) when Steed (because he “doesn’t feel like going to the country tonight”) decides to impose himself on Gambit’s hospitality:

“I like this place. It’s not my style, but it has style.”

By which he presumably means to say, Gambit has taste. Bad taste.

Still, he has adopted a pet sparrow, which is quite endearing.


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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