“Medium Rare” Review

There’s an apparently psychic medium in this, failing to spice up a rather weak traitor-in-the-organisation plot. We get to see lots of the department again. Freddie-the-paymaster is another good chum of Steed, so the supply of pals hasn’t dried up yet – of course he’s dead before the opening credits roll ((Well, not quite before – the freeze frame for the credits make falling/jumping off something pretty much obligatory in The New Avengers so he’s not actually dead until the unfreeze, after the episode title.)). We see that Freddie pays all the informants by having them come to his office in the department. Very inconspicuous, that! He’s even worried they might be spooked by Steed being there – as if coming to the building and walking to his office they’d be unseen by anyone (this being the offices of the security services, so no one will be monitoring coming and going, right?) We discover that a fortune was being paid, by the department, for information “which [Steed or his colleagues] could have got from foreign newspapers”. WHY? Did the department just have too much money and no other way to spend it? What’s that about public sector waste?

Anyway, that starts to seem credible when it turns out the scam is for Wallace, the paymaster’s boss, to dress up as all the informants. No, really.

The medium who has been happily running scam seances when she believes a real premonition comes to her – of Steed’s death, so she goes to his house to warn him. She describes him:

“Handsome, sophisticated, tall, immaculate.”

When elements of her predictions start to prove accurate, the department runs tests on her. A guy in a white lab coat says he can’t tell if there’s anything it in (“what do we know about telekinesis?”) but then, even though Steed appears to be sceptical, we know he has encountered telepathy before and it’s real. And there’s a shot with a window opening, and the curtains blowing, that’s very similar to one used in Warlock (the episode which suggested that witchcraft is genuine). Is that a deliberate reference? In fact, in this case, it turns out the medium heard sound carrying down the water pipes from the plotters’ room and so there’s nothing supernatural about it (apart from the fact that Gambit and Purdey can clearly hear each other over the pipes, when she could only hear voices while sat right in the corner, and the plotters never heard her at all).

The villainous Wallace sets about framing Steed, apparently having taken note of how Tara was framed in Who Was That Man I Saw You With? even down to hiding a message in a telephone directory.

Purdey, presented with the accusation that Steed is a traitor, flies of the handle. It’s another very emotional reaction. She has none of the cool or composure of Cathy or Emma, but as in the last couple of episodes, her devotion to Steed has become very overt.

“Even if you did do it, I still think you’re innocent.”

Love it.

We get a specific disavowal of firearms from Steed:

“I abhor guns. I don’t even have a gun except a Colt .45 and that’s for sentimental reasons.”

This is something I remembered – and there’s a similar hint in The Morning After that Steed rarely carries a gun – which is why I noted the many many occasions he carried one in series 2 & 3 of The Avengers.

It’s a shame the plot is so lacklustre of a couple of strong episodes to open the season, but it remains watchable and it’s a well-shot, good looking episode (apart from a very nasty bit of hotel carpet, and the most poorly edited car accident in the history of television).

About Simon Wood

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

2 thoughts on ““Medium Rare” Review

    1. The “Steed never carried a gun” myth exists outside the scripts, too – both Macnee and Clemens, no less, have stated it. Macnee says he never wanted to carry a gun, so perhaps as his influence as star grew, the show changed. Or as Clemens’ control became complete he did a bit of retconning.

      It certainly could be read as character development. But I’m guessing it’s accidental character development.

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