Here’s a nice surprise – this episode is much better than I remember. The opening is brilliant – a man is shot by his blind date – but in front of a fish tank. Three shots – they don’t shatter the glass, but as the man’s body slides down, water comes spouting over his shoulder. The plot concerns a ‘marriage bureau’, which is to say, a dating agency – but very exclusive, very personalised. Obviously, both Steed and Mrs Peel go and try to find life partners!
The pretext for the investigation is rather undercooked. Steed is looking into 11 unsolved murders and claims “everything points to 11 organised murders.” But the conceit is a nice one, even if it borrows heavily from Strangers on a Train.
Steed tells ‘Togetherness’ he is ‘seriously contemplating’ marriage. “Now have you any particular preference with regard to your marital partner?” Steed is not too picky: “Well, broadly speaking, female.” Which is much how I tend to respond when I’m asked. Emma teases Steed about the challenge of finding a match for him: “Educated, charming, cultured?” he suggests. No: “Ruthless, scheming, devious.” Giving her own requirements, Mrs Peel stipulates: “Mature, cultured, intelligent. With stamina.”
Steed gets some great dialogue in building up his character profile for Togetherness. “Work?” He’s shocked. “Tried working once. It didn’t work out. Too much like work.”
If anything, this episode is trying to hard to be comical. There’s are lots of good comic performances – Diana Rigg playing uncharacteristically silly works surprisingly well – playing the tuba, getting tipsy by her coffin. Most of the performances clearly haven’t been reigned in, though, and most need to be. But Patrick Cargill’s performance is perfect faux obsequiousness. Penelope Keith makes an appearance – as one of the brides – but has no lines at all!
Another niggle is Mrs Peel’s escape from the coffin. Explaining the hinged side just isn’t enough – the coffin was surrounded by pallbearers, or inside the hearse – right up until it was interred.
Steed has a table top full of toy soldiers (just like Francis Underwood…) That splendid website, The Avengers Forever, notes a clue as to the address of Steed’s new flat in this one (I’ve only just discovered it has a whole section on where the Avengers live…)
Musically, there’s some funereal excellence on the organ from Laurie Johnson. And the lyricist on Kinky Boots, Herbert Kretzmer, gets a credit for the series proper with the ‘Togetherness’ jingle.
There’s a brilliant confetti strewn fight in the bridal showroom of the ‘Togetherness’ offices.
Tag scene transport: a hearse.