“The Joker” Review

This is a remake that gets my unqualified approval. Don’t Look Behind You was an excellent episode, and this is a relatively faithful adaptation with such small changes as there are proving very effective. The performances in the original were unnervingly off the wall, and so they are in this one. This is also an episode where, for perhaps the first time since the show went into colour, the visual are of the highest standard. It’s beautifully designed and terribly well directed, with the playing cards, roses and peep-hole shots mixing with the bizarre disfigured photographs of the original to create an incredible atmosphere. It’s amazingly classy.

It’s another Emma solo episode, and Diana Rigg shows just how good she is. It’s a beautifully balanced performance combining her poise and resourcefulness with just a hint of anxiety or even horror. Unlike the early seasons it has become unusual to see an Avenger in a state of undress, but in this case spying on her in the dressing table mirror as she brushes her hair contributes to that sense of vulnerability. And, as in The House That Jack Built, the Rigg’s expression of affection and gratitude – as she takes Steed’s hand once they’ve defeated the villain – is deeply moving.

Once again Laurie Johnson does amazing work, and the song Meine Liebe, Meine Rose caps the episode perfectly.

Absolutely top-notch. Highly recommended.

Subtitle: Steed trumps an ace. Emma plays a lone hand.

We’re needed: Emma rings the doorbell, Steed falls down the stairs, Emma breaks in and finds him lying on the floor: “Mrs Peel. You’re needed.” Not the usual light-hearted fare, the tone is serious and the scene actually advances the plot.

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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