“The Removal Men” Review

Mon dieu! En France à nouveau? I’m starting to think it would be quicker to note the episodes that are set in England…

This season is proving to be something of an odd mixture. On the one hand we have criminal masterminds (Mr Teddy Bear), delicate diplomacy (The Decapod) and international espionage (Mission to Montreal). Then suddenly we’re back to mundane criminality – regular crooks, albeit targeting a glamorous starlet (yes, another one). On the other hand this script (by Roger Marshall) is the wittiest yet, some lovely one liners and character stuff (One-Ten asks Steed to rub sun lotion into his back). 

There’s an exchange that is suprisingly continuity heavy for The Avengers when Steed and Venus meet; it’s clear it’s the first time they’ve seen each other after the events of The Decapod and it wouldn’t make sense for those two episodes to be shown out of sequence. The exchange does show how generous and forgiving Venus is. Venus has even less to do in this, Steed isn’t even playing her in his game, she just gets in the way. In return for her welcoming Steed back into her life, Venus gets shot at, nearly bumped off, thrown out of her hotel and made unemployed, this time.

While Venus’ incidental role in the plot makes her less of an Avenger, it does certainly heighten the tension in the nightclub showdown. Julie Stevens plays this absolutely beautifully – treading the fine line between terrified and gutsy. Enjoyable though it is to see Cathy chop a man unconscious, or Mrs Peel kick a villain in the head, it does little to convey a  sense of jeopardy. Stevens’ performance heightens the drama in this.

It’s a good episode for Dave Lee – there’s less of Venus singing but the trio get an instrumental number, and Lee gets a bit of dialogue with Venus at the piano.

We have the first returning actor in a new role – Edwin Richfield is back, playing a geezer who runs a nightclub, with an accent more London than Radic just the year after The Girl on the Trapeze.

Finally, there are a few atypical incidents: Steed shoots two people with a gun (although he doesn’t go armed, it’s a piece he finds) and in addition to Steed’s generally odd choice of attire in this, he gets his kit off again (by the poolside).

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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