“Epic” Review

I’m not quite sure what to make of Epic. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about it is that it appears to document the making of Kill Bill some 36 years before that film was made. I will confess to enjoying watching it: it goes so incredibly over the top, Peter Wyngarde and Isa Miranda (over) acting over acting, yet this episode is painfully self-aware (almost to the point where it feels like its watching you rather than the other way round). It elaborately sends itself up, referencing the silent film music (from The Grave Diggers) and Emma being strapped to industrial machinery (eg. A Surfeit of H2O). Filming a film, it shoots around and behind its own sets – implausibly, but to great effect. And of many the vignettes are beautifully composed and eerily memorable.

But. But. But. Mrs Peel in lime green?

In some ways, the episode bears some similarity to The Prisoner episode The Girl Who Was Death which @lone_locust and I discussed being generally Avengers-inspired (and which was broadcast almost a year later). But Epic is cleverer, more self-conscious, and ultimately more fun.

At its heart it’s another Clemens break-down-the-heroine story, like Don’t Look Behind You or The House That Jack Built (to which, in targeting Emma, shifting her perception of reality, and trying to batter her sanity, it bears many similarities). And although we don’t hear Emma’s thoughts as we did in The House That Jack Built, she does conjure up an on-screen caption, an alienation device to layer on top of the already meta film-within-a-film concept. Also we hear Steed’s thoughts, briefly, although only in the form of his memory of Stewart Kirby’s Hamlet.

Plot-wise, it is unclear quite how they get such a good replica of Emma’s flat, given that the only way they could get even few seconds of footage of Mrs Peel herself was to lure her out to the countryside and get some shots using a camera disguised as a bicycle. Emma’s flat still looks different to me compared to the earlier colour episodes. I spotted the “Simon Roberts and Son” sign from The Winged Avengers in the scene with the policeman extra back on first viewing – so I’m sure there are many other props sneakily recycled in this one visible to the more vigilant viewer.

Subtitle: Steed catches a falling star. Emma makes a movie.

We’re Needed: Outside Emma’s flat, the door opens: “Mrs Peel -“. Steed is interrupted before he can get any further. “Sorry Steed, I’m needed elsewhere.”

About Simon Wood

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

2 thoughts on ““Epic” Review

  1. The main thing I recall disliking about this surreal bit of work was Mrs. Peel’s apartment “set” – like television, we can’t tell she’s on a set until she breaks through the (First? Second? Third?) wall, revealing that it is a film set… But then it’s revealed that it only had three walls!

    I guess on the Avengers it’s impossible for the characters to break the Fourth wall.

    1. You mean in the tag scene? It is, of course, the real set of her flat – which is what you’re objecting to. But it’s also why they did it. As I say, it’s a very self-referential episode.

      But I don’t think that trick is as much of a problem indoors as in the street outside her flat: because again the same set is used twice – but in this case, in one instance it’s actually supposed to be outdoors and in the other it’s on a soundstage. I think it annoys me because it’s shameless. So much of series 5 (to date) has used (bad) studio sets for outdoor scenes (see the fake woods in the previous episode for example); it’s a real step backwards from series 4 which featured lots of real location footage.

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