“False Witness” Review

Disposable but somewhat charming and irresistibly well directed – in fact, it’s hard to hate a Crichton directed episode. There’s a lot of good urban location shots, and great atmosphere. But the story is half-baked and ill thought out: the central device is apparently a sort of inverted truth serum (rather than only being able to tell the truth, the subject can only tell untruths) but it doesn’t seem to act that way early when it appears to effect a kind of highly targeted amnesia on when the ‘false witnesses’ who appear to be completely unaware they are behaving abnormally.

Also among the indictments against is the fact ‘it’s Mother’s day’ – he’s back and this time he’s on a bus, as his choices of workplace become yet more eccentric, refusing the would be passengers within the leafy suburbs it traverses.

There’s a bizarre quasi-judicial sequence that doesn’t appear to fit in the criminal justice process as Sir Joseph summons the blackmailer he is keen to make a case against to his rooms, without lawyers, to be told the case against him – to what end? Courtrooms may not be commonplace in Avengersland, but they aren’t unprecedented, and this is just jarringly peculiar. More forgivable, given the extrapolation of the technology of the time, is the polygraph technician who claims his machine is absolutely infallible.

Steed rediscovers some of his Keel era roughness when he believes he has been betrayed: he takes Melville into the woods, to beat him up.

In the Bond film The Living Daylights the sequence where Necros delivers the milk always reminds me of The Avengers. In my mind, the primary connection between The Avengers and milk floats is The Hour That Never Was (probably because I love it so much and have watched it many times) but there’s also Dreemykreem Dairies in this episodes. This leads to some unfortunate ‘comedy’ when Tara is caught investigating the contaminated milk: “Worried about lack of vitamins?” Was her reply a reference to Thorsen’s weight, which was a point of contention with the producers (she was sent to a health farm when first cast) “Yes, I’m just wasting away.”  Then we get the buttery “comic” ending resulting from an attempt to churn her to death.

But, it’s hard to hate a Crichton episode.

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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