Sunday, 3 April 2016

It's called Boutique. An exclusive selection.

The Avengers
2.26: Killer Whale

The Avengers explores the delightful world of intestinal slurry, as Steed and Mrs Gale enter the fetid domain of ambergris smugglers. Killer Whale can certainly boast a distinctive subject for criminal plot, but unfortunately the proceedings are less than remarkable, an unholy clash of fashion and boxing.


This one, written by John Lucarotti (his third of six for the series, he was also a contributor to some of the best William Hartnell historical Doctor Whos) begins with the unlikely coincidence that Cathy is hanging out with a wannabe professional boxer just when Steed is becoming suspicious of a smuggling ring based around a gymnasium (and fashion shop). So he becomes the backer, and she the manager.


Not dissimilarly, Steed has been thumbing a book on whales, but it’s Cathy, during Act 2, who imparts the vitals on ambergris to him. He wouldn’t have it in the first place if he didn’t know full well. This isn’t sufficiently engaging that you’re willing to skirt such obvious script failings, and the cast generally don’t live up to their potential. Of note, though, is that ambergris could get you £32k if you picked a piece up off the beach (about half a million today). Before duty, of course.


Patrick Magee (A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon) overdoes the gym owner/ringleader Pancho, while on the evidence of this and Edward Waterfield in The Evil of the Daleks, John Bailey (Fernand) appears to have been typecast as the weak-willed lackey (he runs the fashion boutique, is up to his ears in debt, and is generally put upon by everyone). Kenneth Farrington’s Joey is so ruggedly devoted to Cathy, he could be switched with a pet dog and no one would notice the difference (except the dog might turn out better in the ring). Robert Mill at least makes the most of his heavy, Brown (who doesn’t get a beating), and refers to everyone as sport. Also appearing are Morris Perry as Harry (Dent in Colony in Space), another heavy, Christopher Coll (Stubbs in The Mutants) as a lab assistant.


Steed: How are you, Mrs Gale? I’ve been unravelling the intricacies of your drinks cabinet.

Steed’s on fine form, ordering a new wardrobe for “his niece” (34-24-26, fair and 5ft 4in), and unflappable when meeting Brown (“Carry on, sport”). He also has a rather engaging, unnerving ruse of fetching the body previously dumped by Harry and dumping it in Fernand’s shop (“I am sorry, we are closed” announces Fernand, “But open to suggestions?” inquires Steed).


He uses the pseudonym Caruthers again, when calling the police, and presents Cathy with a bottle of whale perfume as a parting gift (“I’m afraid that’s the last of the line”); he’s off to the Caribbean, she to a judo convention in Tokyo (but, of course). And that’s it for the second season, a patchy affair, far from the consistently strong run of, say, Season Four, but with its definite bright spots.


Season Two Top 10

1. Mr Teddy Bear
2. Warlock
3. The Mauritius Penny
4. Death of a Great Dane
5. The White Dwarf
6. Intercrime
7. The Big Thinker
8. Propellant 23
9. School for Traitors
10. The Golden Eggs


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