“Forward Base” Review

Straight back to Canada (we won’t escape it) with the pretext of following a soviet agent who is entering the country, the (new) Avengers follow this lead to the titular base which turns out to be a submarine missile launcher within the North American continent. I could pick at this one (how come the base, disguised with rocks, can surface so close to the shore?) But it’s a moderately entertaining premise, and I appreciate using the great lakes, and using a hurricane to evade radar. It’s just a pity they try to show it diving and surfacing when the effects/budget/editing is clearly inadequate to do so.

There dozy fisherman who observes the land disappearing reminded me a little of the chap at the opening of Town of No Return who observes the man in the waterproof pouch walk out of the sea. It’s the same laid back acceptance of the peculiar. Indeed, I had though the line from this one where Purdey tells the commander of the base “you get your furnishings the same place Steed gets his bowlers” (after tapping the metal wall) was actually from the end of Town of No Return. Ever since I rewatched it, and the line wasn’t in it, I’ve been wondering when I’ll hear it (I thought I must have missed it, but three episodes from the end, here it is). Steed obviously gets the steel bowler out prior to this, to finish off a hefty thug at whom he’s just thrown a flaming wastepaper basket.

The Canadian episodes are often criticised by fans (and the producers) but there’s some of the best Purdey/Gambit nonsense since the Treasure of the Sierra Madre car chase discussion while they’re doing some (very obvious) surveillance.

“What were we talking about?”


“No, not now. Last Tuesday.”

When the man they’re tailing throws the missile guidance system into Lake Ontario, they flip a coin to decide who will tell Steed. It’s nicely done, but it feels like the trio have reverted back to the parent relationship. Steed has less to do again.

Once again, we get police in this one. They’re not as appallingly ‘comical’ as in Complex but they do get beaten up by Gambit. If the ‘no police’ rule was suspended for Canada, it was a terrible mistake.

With a solid central concept and a few good moments, it’s not a bad episode, but it could easily have been a lot better.

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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