Skip to main content

We’re feeding electricity to him, hoping he’ll respond.

The Avengers
6.9: Whoever Shot Poor George Oblique Stroke XR40?

Another like My Wildest Dream, Whoever Shot Poor George Oblique Stroke XR40? is equipped with a decent-enough premise but rather falls down by having nowhere interesting to go with it. We don’t know precisely why the titular computer has been sabotaged until quite late in the proceedings, but we could have guessed (it’s assumed that Pelley was feeding George top secret equations, hence the “PELLEY… TRAITOR” message, but he was actually telling George he was held captive, for the purpose of revealing that old reliable: “full details of the seek and destroy mechanism of the anti-missile system”).


Ardmore: The next few hours are critical. We’re feeding electricity to him, hoping he’ll respond.

Indeed, the best part of Whoever Shot is the title, suggesting something considerably more eccentric and self-aware than it is. On that score at least, we get a redux of 4.8: The Gravediggers’ surgery on a bomb in amusingly operating room style, as Doctor Ardmore (Anthony Nicholls, 2.20: School for Traitors), cyber-surgeon, is called in to work on “the finest electronic brain in the country” (which has been on the receiving end of both barrels of a shotgun, at close range). He duly requests that the area is scrubbed and vacuumed and warns George’s pulse is erratic: “You haven’t got long”. Steed tells Tara to remain in observation as “he might cough up the answer to Baines’ equation”.


Ardmore: Good news. He’s on the mend.

Later, Tobin (Frank Windsor, the Scoutfinder General in The GoodiesScoutrageous, and also appearing in The King’s Demons and Ghostlight), in cahoots with the villains, pours half a pint of acid into him (“He’s been poisoned!”) and it becomes necessary to do a brain transplant into earlier model Fred MK II (“By comparison, a half-witted empty-headed fool. A moron” – a bit harsh). Little is made of George other than this, however, with Tara’s speculation over his sentience left unexplored (“Well, does George have judgement of his own? I man, can he interpret facts for himself?”)


Ardmore: What on earth did you hit him with?
Steed: With a great deal of venom.

Steed lands a well-aimed shot on Tobin as he attempts to kill Fred/George, and Macnee rises to the challenge of what he’s given, which is middling. He doesn’t drink during this episode, disapproving of the blotto blatherings of Sir Wilfred Pelley (Clifford Evans, Number Two in Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling, 4.5: Dial a Deadly Number, 5.17: Death’s Door), the inventor of George (“It is a little early”). He also gets a good scene on two against Dennis Price, the latter posing as “general factotum” Jason (a riff on his Jeeves role only a couple of years earlier) – “You’re very loyal”: “Yes, very loyal”. Price doesn’t get much chance to actually be the villain once he’s revealed as the ringleader, occasional line aside (“Fire is so very cleansing, don’t you think?”, of burning down the summerhouse with kidnapped staff and Tara in it).


Loris: You expect to stop us? One man?
Steed: Strategy. I’m expecting a surprise attack from the rear.

Steed kills Jacobs (John Porter-Davison) with a bowler ricochet. He also does a neat trick of standing the unconscious Keller (Tony Wright) to attention in the hall, before revealing himself. The subsequent exchange with Loris (Judy Parfitt, 2.8: Bullseye, 3.17: The White Elephant, 5.2: Escape in Time) is baffling, though. Why does she think Steed wouldn’t be able to stop the two of them? If she’d had ten armed men behind her, it might have made sense. Particularly as Tara then stops the pair, one woman, by sliding down the bannister.


Baines: Not a curve anywhere. Why, to have curves in my place would be sacrilege.
Tara: Um, in that case, perhaps I’d better…
Baines: No, no the furnishings. I don’t like right-angled girls. Although, I don’t mind girls with the right angles. Heh heh.
Tara: Ohhhh.

It’s a pretty good Tara episode, actually, albeit with some peculiarities. She spends the first ten minutes in fancy-dress, face concealed. You’d think she had a blemish or something, as it’s hidden again, in a surgical mask, when we next see her (Steed gets the nurse wrong: “Having fun?” asks Tara, appearing behind him. “Well, she’s been saying yes to something” comes the reply).


Jason: You see, I am an impostor too.

She’s also called upon to impersonate Pelley’s niece Prunella, complete with American accent (the resemblance is in the knees). Which Thorson does nicely, being Canadian, but then Tara is required to be a blithering idiot, handing Jason the gun as she tries to get into the cellar while telling him she’s an impostor – but keeping the accent as she does so. Steed blames himself for telling her she could trust him, but what he actually said was that she should make friends with him, rather different. 


Tara: What now?
Steed: This goes straight onto the top-secret restricted list.

An amusing coda with Steed informing Tara that he asked George for the recipe for the most delicious cocktail in the world, and receiving the answer in five seconds. Unfortunately, when he adds the final ingredient, an olive, the concoction explodes. Just as well he has a bottle of champagne in reserve.









Agree? Disagree? Mildly or vehemently? Let me know in the comments below.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

We live in a twilight world.

Tenet (2020)
(SPOILERS) I’ve endured a fair few confusingly-executed action sequences in movies – more than enough, actually – but I don’t think I’ve previously had the odd experience of being on the edge of my seat during one while simultaneously failing to understand its objectives and how those objectives are being attempted. Which happened a few times during Tenet. If I stroll over to the Wiki page and read the plot synopsis, it is fairly explicable (fairly) but as a first dive into this Christopher Nolan film, I frequently found it, if not impenetrable, then most definitely opaque.

She was addicted to Tums for a while.

Marriage Story (2019)
(SPOILERS) I don’t tend to fall heavily for Noah Baumbach fare. He’s undoubtedly a distinctive voice – even if his collaborations with Wes Anderson are the least of that director’s efforts – but his devotion to an exclusive, rarefied New York bubble becomes ever more off-putting with each new project. And ever more identifiable as being a lesser chronicler of the city’s privileged quirks than his now disinherited forbear Woody Allen, who at his peak mastered a balancing act between the insightful, hilarious and self-effacing. Marriage Story finds Baumbach going yet again where Woody went before, this time brushing up against the director’s Ingmar Bergman fixation.

You can’t climb a ladder, no. But you can skip like a goat into a bar.

Juno and the Paycock (1930)
(SPOILERS) Hitchcock’s second sound feature. Such was the lustre of this technological advance that a wordy play was picked. By Sean O’Casey, upon whom Hitchcock based the prophet of doom at the end of The Birds. Juno and the Paycock, set in 1922 during the Irish Civil War, begins as a broad comedy of domestic manners, but by the end has descended into full-blown Greek (or Catholic) tragedy. As such, it’s an uneven but still watchable affair, even if Hitch does nothing to disguise its stage origins.

Anything can happen in Little Storping. Anything at all.

The Avengers 2.22: Murdersville
Brian Clemens' witty take on village life gone bad is one of the highlights of the fifth season. Inspired by Bad Day at Black Rock, one wonders how much Murdersville's premise of unsettling impulses lurking beneath an idyllic surface were set to influence both Straw Dogs and The Wicker Mana few years later (one could also suggest it premeditates the brand of backwoods horrors soon to be found in American cinema from the likes of Wes Craven and Tobe Hooper).

The protocol actually says that most Tersies will say this has to be a dream.

Jupiter Ascending (2015)
(SPOILERS) The Wachowski siblings’ wildly patchy career continues apace. They bespoiled a great thing with The Matrix sequels (I liked the first, not the second), misfired with Speed Racer (bubble-gum visuals aside, hijinks and comedy ain’t their forte) and recently delivered the Marmite Sense8 for Netflix (I was somewhere in between on it). Their only slam-dunk since The Matrix put them on the movie map is Cloud Atlas, and even that’s a case of rising above its limitations (mostly prosthetic-based). Jupiter Ascending, their latest cinema outing and first stab at space opera, elevates their lesser works by default, however. It manages to be tone deaf in all the areas that count, and sadly fetches up at the bottom of their filmography pile.

This is a case where the roundly damning verdicts have sadly been largely on the ball. What’s most baffling about the picture is that, after a reasonably engaging set-up, it determinedly bores the pants off you. I haven’t enco…

James Bond. You appear with the tedious inevitability of an unloved season.

Moonraker (1979)
Depending upon your disposition, and quite possibly age, Moonraker is either the Bond film that finally jumped the shark or the one that is most gloriously redolent of Roger Moore’s knowing take on the character. Many Bond aficionados will no doubt utter its name with thinly disguised contempt, just as they will extol with gravity how Timothy Dalton represented a masterful return to the core values of the series. If you regard For Your Eyes Only as a refreshing return to basics after the excesses of the previous two entries, and particularly the space opera grandstanding of this one, it’s probably fair to say you don’t much like Roger Moore’s take on Bond.

He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
(1982)
(SPOILERS) I don’t love Star Trek, but I do love Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. That probably isn’t just me, but a common refrain of many a non-devotee of the series. Although, it used to apply to The Voyage Home (the funny one, with the whales, the Star Trek even the target audience for Three Men and a Baby could enjoy). Unfortunately, its high regard has also become the desperate, self-destructive, song-and-verse, be-all-and-end-all of the overlords of the franchise itself, in whichever iteration, it seems. This is understandable to an extent, as Khan is that rare movie sequel made to transcendent effect on almost every level, and one that stands the test of time every bit as well (better, even) as when it was first unveiled.

Twenty dwarves took turns doing handstands on the carpet.

Bugsy (1991)
(SPOILERS) Bugsy is very much a Warren Beatty vanity project (aren’t they all, even the ones that don’t seem that way on the surface?), to the extent of his playing a title character a decade and a half younger than him. As such, it makes sense that producer Warren’s choice of director wouldn’t be inclined to overshadow star Warren, but the effect is to end up with a movie that, for all its considerable merits (including a script from James Toback chock full of incident), never really feels quite focussed, that it’s destined to lead anywhere, even if we know where it’s going.

My dear, sweet brother Numsie!

The Golden Child (1986)
Post-Beverly Hills Cop, Eddie Murphy could have filmed himself washing the dishes and it would have been a huge hit. Which might not have been a bad idea, since he chose to make this misconceived stinker.

When I barked, I was enormous.

Dean Spanley (2008)
(SPOILERS) There is such a profusion of average, respectable – but immaculately made – British period drama held up for instant adulation, it’s hardly surprising that, when something truly worthy of acclaim comes along, it should be singularly ignored. To be fair, Dean Spanleywas well liked by critics upon its release, but its subsequent impact has proved disappointingly slight. Based on Lord Dunsany’s 1939 novella, My Talks with Dean Spanley, our narrator relates how the titular Dean’s imbibification of a moderate quantity of Imperial Tokay (“too syrupy”, is the conclusion reached by both members of the Fisk family regarding this Hungarian wine) precludes his recollection of a past life as a dog. 

Inevitably, reviews pounced on the chance to reference Dean Spanley as a literal shaggy dog story, so I shall get that out of the way now. While the phrase is more than fitting, it serves to underrepresent how affecting the picture is when it has cause to be, as does any re…