Skip to main content

Steed, given the opportunity, I could make you look a one-hundred-percent, double-dyed traitor.

The Avengers
6.27: Who Was That Man I Saw You With?

Jeremy Burnham’s last contribution to the show is a likeable but slight framing tale, but this time, rather than Steed or Mother, all the evidence points to Tara King. There’s also a rather crucial issue that it doesn’t really bear much scrutiny that someone as innocuous would be the trigger to destroy the country, even when the dastardly plan has been explained.


Dangerfield: You know, most people’s feet are so ugly. Mine are so elegant.

The conceit is that Tara has been assigned to test the impregnability of defence computer the Field Marshall – Steed designed its security system – and the scheming villains, led by foot-fetishist Dangerfield (Alan Wheatley, Temmosus in The Daleks) – albeit, regarding his own feet so Quentin Tarantino need not feel he's got direct competition – are intent on making it look as if she is passing on vital information relating to the machine; thus, it will be considered necessary to dismantle the Field Marshall and install new circuits, which will take 48 hours, during which time the country will be defenceless and a rocket attack can be initiated by Zaroff’s unnamed employer. Yeah, it’s water-tight, isn’t it?


Dangerfield: Poor child, there’s so much evidence against her.

Dangerfield’s strategy, with the aid of Zaroff (Alan Browning, 2.15: Intercrime), is replete with rudimentary leading devices implying her culpability, such as sending her flowers, making payments to her account (£2k), stopping her on the street and asking for directions (so it looks like a pre-arranged meeting), and phoning her up and making suggestive remarks.


Oh, and Fairfax (William Marlowe, The Mind of Evil, Revenge of the Cybermen) showing up dead, killed with Tara’s gun. Nevertheless, this has the desired effect, with Mother taking her off active duty and ruthless bastard Gilpin (Alan McNaughtan, 4.1: The Town of No Return) putting her under house arrest and informing her he will shoot her if she tries to escape (she does, and he’s overpowered before he can).


Dangerfield: Vandalism. Sheer vandalism.
Tara: What is?
Dangerfield: The need to destroy something as beautiful as you.

Tara being hung out to dry is much more convincing that if it had been cool, collected Emma, and you buy in to her desperation. Although, she does require Steed to rescue when she finds the villains’ lair and is tied to the ropes of a boxing ring.


Steed’s method of locating Tara is particularly canny, calling on the services of Miss Gladys Culpepper (Aimée Delamain, 3.12: November Five, the Doña Arana in The Two Doctors), who lip reads the footage of Zaroff’s street meeting with Tara and recites his instructions to the taxi driver.


Delamain is great value, noting how she hasn’t seen a Kinema since Mr Valentino passed away and that she knew Steed’s grandfather. Steed has another inimitable moment when, recognising a fellow man of taste (“What a lovely suit”), he takes the time to note the name of Dangerfield’s tailor after incapacitating him.


Steed: To Tara King, of whom I never suspected funny business for one moment.
Tara: Never?
Steed: Well, almost never.

Mother has a set up shop in a church vault, and Steed toasts Tara in the coda via a champagne fountain. Wheatley seems to get a lot of praise for this one, and he certainly has some choice lines, but I couldn’t rid myself of the feeling that the role was intended for Leslie Phillips, so the actual choice could only come up a little short.









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

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

My name is Dr. King Schultz, this is my valet, Django, and these are our horses, Fritz, and Tony.

Django Unchained (2012)
(MINOR SPOILERS) Since the painful misstep of Grindhouse/Death Proof, Quentin Tarantino has regained the higher ground like never before. Pulp Fiction, his previous commercial and critical peak, has been at very least equalled by the back-to-back hits of Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained. Having been underwhelmed by his post Pulp Fiction efforts (albeit, I admired his technical advances as a director in Kill Bill), I was pleasantly surprised by Inglourious Basterds. It was no work of genius (so not Pulp Fiction) by any means, but there was a gleeful irreverence in its treatment of history and even to the nominal heroic status of its titular protagonists. Tonally, it was a good fit for the director’s “cool” aesthetic. As a purveyor of postmodern pastiche, where the surface level is the subtext, in some ways he was operating at his zenith. Django Unchained is a retreat from that position, the director caught in the tug between his all-important aesthetic pr…

She writes Twilight fan fiction.

Vampire Academy (2014)
My willingness to give writer Daniel Waters some slack on the grounds of early glories sometimes pays off (Sex and Death 101) and sometimes, as with this messy and indistinct Young Adult adaptation, it doesn’t. If Vampire Academy plods along as a less than innovative smart-mouthed Buffy rip-off that might be because, if you added vampires to Heathers, you would probably get something not so far from the world of Joss Whedon. Unfortunately inspiration is a low ebb throughout, not helped any by tepid direction from Daniel’s sometimes-reliable brother Mark and a couple of hopelessly plankish leads who do their best to dampen down any wit that occasionally attempts to surface.

I can only presume there’s a never-ending pile of Young Adult fiction poised for big screen failure, all of it comprising multi-novel storylines just begging for a moment in the Sun. Every time an adaptation crashes and burns (and the odds are that they will) another one rises, hydra-like, hoping…

Everyone wants a happy ending and everyone wants closure but that's not the way life works out.

It Chapter Two (2019)
(SPOILERS) An exercise in stultifying repetitiveness, It Chapter Two does its very best to undo all the goodwill engendered by the previous instalment. It may simply be that adopting a linear approach to the novel’s interweaving timelines has scuppered the sequel’s chances of doing anything the first film hasn’t. Oh, except getting rid of Pennywise for good, which you’d be hard-pressed to discern as substantially different to the CGI-infused confrontation in the first part, Native American ritual aside.

That woman, deserves her revenge and… we deserve to die. But then again, so does she.

Kill Bill: Vol. 2  (2004)
(SPOILERS) I’m not sure I can really conclude whether one Kill Bill is better than the other, since I’m essentially with Quentin in his assertion that they’re one film, just cut into two for the purposes of a selling point. I do think Kill Bill: Vol. 2 has the movie’s one actually interesting character, though, and I’m not talking David Carradine’s title role.

Do you read Sutter Cane?

In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
(SPOILERS) The concluding chapter of John Carpenter’s unofficial Apocalypse Trilogy (preceded by The Thing and Prince of Darkness) is also, sadly, his last great movie. Indeed, it stands apart in the qualitative wilderness that beset him during the ‘90s (not for want of output). Michael De Luca’s screenplay had been doing the rounds since the ‘80s, even turned down by Carpenter at one point, and it proves ideal fodder for the director, bringing out the best in him. Even cinematographer Gary K Kibbe seems inspired enough to rise to the occasion. It could do without the chugging rawk soundtrack, perhaps, but then, that was increasingly where Carpenter’s interests resided (as opposed to making decent movies).

When you grow up, if you still feel raw about it, I’ll be waiting.

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
(SPOILERS) It sometimes seems as if Quentin Tarantino – in terms of his actual movies, rather than nearly getting Uma killed in an auto stunt – is the last bastion of can-do-no-wrong on the Internet. Or at very least has the preponderance of its vocal weight behind him. Back when his first two movies proper were coming out, so before online was really a thing, I’d likely have agreed, but by about the time the Kill Bills arrived, I’d have admitted I was having serious pause about him being all he was cracked up to be. Because the Kill Bills aren’t very good, and they’ve rather characterised his hermetically sealed wallowing in obscure media trash and genre cul-de-sacs approach to his art ever since. Sometimes to entertaining effect, sometimes less so, but always ever more entrenching his furrow; as Neil Norman note in his Evening Standard review, “Tarantino has attempted (and largely succeeded) in making a movie whose only reality is that of celluloid”. Extend t…

Check it out. I wonder if BJ brought the Bear with him.

Death Proof (2007)
(SPOILERS) In a way, I’m slightly surprised Tarantino didn’t take the opportunity to disown Death Proof, to claim that, as part of Grindhouse, it was no more one of his ten-official-films-and-out than his Four Rooms segment. But that would be to spurn the exploitation genre affectation that has informed everything he’s put his name to since Kill Bill, to a greater or less extent, and also require him to admit that he was wrong, and you won’t find him doing that for anything bar My Best Friend’s Birthday.

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.

I don’t think you will see President Pierce again.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)
(SPOILERS) The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and other tall tales of the American frontier is the title of "the book" from which the Coen brothers' latest derives, and so announces itself as fiction up front as heavily as Fargo purported to be based on a true story. In the world of the portmanteau western – has there even been one before? – theme and content aren't really all that distinct from the more familiar horror collection, and as such, these six tales rely on sudden twists or reveals, most of them revolving around death. And inevitably with the anthology, some tall tales are stronger than other tall tales, the former dutifully taking up the slack.

Where’s the commode in this dungeon? I gotta have a squirt.

Reservoir Dogs (1992)
(SPOILERS) I’m not shy to admit that I fully bought into the Tarantino hype when he first arrived on the scene. Which, effectively took place with the UK’s reception of Reservoir Dogs (and its subsequent banning from home video), rather than the slightly tepid post-Sundance US response. That said, I think I always appreciated the “package” more than the piece itself. Don’t get me wrong, I admired the film for what it achieved, shrewdly maximising its effectiveness on a limited budget by, for example, making a virtue out of notshowing the all-important heist. But its influence was everything, more than the sum total of the film itself – that slow-motion parade in cheap matching suits (not so much Chris Penn’s track one), the soundtrack CD that was a fixture until, basically Pulp Fiction came out, the snatches of dialogue, most famously the “Like a Virgin” monologue, even the poster, adorning every student’s wall for the next half decade – so I wouldn’t quite say I …