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.

Popular posts from this blog

Ziggy smokes a lot of weed.

Moonfall (2022) (SPOILERS) For a while there, it looked as if Moonfall , the latest and least-welcomed – so it seems – piece of apocalyptic programming from Roland Emmerich, might be sending mixed messages. Fortunately, we need not have feared, as it turns out to be the same pedigree of disaster porn we’ve come to expect from the director, one of the Elite’s most dutiful mass-entertainment stooges, even if his lustre has rather dimmed since the glory days of 2012.

The Illumi-what-i?

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) (SPOILERS) In which Sam Raimi proves that he can stand proudly with the best – or worst – of them as a good little foot soldier of the woke apocalypse. You’d expect the wilfully anarchic – and Republican – Raimi to choke on the woke, but instead, he’s sucked it up, grinned and bore it. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is so slavishly a production-line Marvel movie, both in plotting and character, and in nu-Feige progressive sensibilities, there was no chance of Sam staggering out from beneath its suffocating demands with anything more than a few scraps of stylistic flourish intact.

What’s so bad about being small? You’re not going to be small forever.

Innerspace (1987) There’s no doubt that Innerspace is a flawed movie. Joe Dante finds himself pulling in different directions, his instincts for comic subversion tempered by the need to play the romance plot straight. He tacitly acknowledges this on the DVD commentary for the film, where he notes Pauline Kael’s criticism that he was attempting to make a mainstream movie; and he was. But, as ever with Dante, it never quite turns out that way. Whereas his kids’ movies treat their protagonists earnestly, this doesn’t come so naturally with adults. I’m a bona fide devotee of Innerspace , but I can’t help but be conscious of its problems. For the most part Dante papers over the cracks; the movie hits certain keynotes of standard Hollywood prescription scripting. But his sensibility inevitably suffuses it. That, and human cartoon Martin Short (an ideal “leading man” for the director) ensure what is, at first glance just another “ Steven Spielberg Presents ” sci-fi/fantas

All I saw was an old man with a funky hand, that’s all I saw.

The Blob (1988) (SPOILERS) The 1980s effects-laden remake of a ’50s B-movie that couldn’t. That is, couldn’t persuade an audience to see it and couldn’t muster critical acclaim. The Fly was a hit. The Thing wasn’t, but its reputation has since soared. Like Invaders from Mars , no such fate awaited The Blob , despite effects that, in many respects, are comparable in quality to the John Carpenter classic – and are certainly indebted to Rob Bottin for bodily grue – and surehanded direction from Chuck Russell. I suspect the reason is simply this: it lacks that extra layer that would ensure longevity.

Are you telling me that I should take my daughter to a witch doctor?

The Exorcist (1973) (SPOILERS) Vast swathes have been written on The Exorcist , duly reflective of its cultural impact. In a significant respect, it’s the first blockbuster – forget Jaws – and also the first of a new kind of special-effects movie. It provoked controversy across all levels of the socio-political spectrum, for explicit content and religious content, both hailed and denounced for the same. William Friedkin, director of William Peter Blatty’s screenplay based on Blatty’s 1971 novel, would have us believe The Exorcist is “ a film about the mystery of faith ”, but it’s evidently much more – and less – than that. There’s a strong argument to be made that movies having the kind of seismic shock on the landscape this one did aren’t simply designed to provoke rumination (or exultation); they’re there to profoundly influence society, even if largely by osmosis, and when one looks at this picture’s architects, such an assessment only gains in credibility.

I work for the guys that pay me to watch the guys that pay you. And then there are, I imagine, some guys that are paid to watch me.

The Day of the Dolphin (1973) (SPOILERS) Perhaps the most bizarre thing out of all the bizarre things about The Day of the Dolphin is that one of its posters scrupulously sets out its entire dastardly plot, something the movie itself doesn’t outline until fifteen minutes before the end. Mike Nichols reputedly made this – formerly earmarked for Roman Polanski, Jack Nicholson and Sharon Tate, although I’m dubious a specific link can be construed between its conspiracy content and the Manson murders - to fulfil a contract with The Graduate producer Joseph Levine. It would explain the, for him, atypical science-fiction element, something he seems as comfortable with as having a hairy Jack leaping about the place in Wolf .

You ever heard the saying, “Don’t rob the bank across from the diner that has the best donuts in three counties”?

2 Guns (2013) (SPOILERS) Denzel Washington is such a reliable performer, that it can get a bit boring. You end up knowing every gesture or inflection in advance, whether he’s playing a good guy or a bad guy. And his films are generally at least half decent, so you end up seeing them. Even in Flight (or perhaps especially in Flight ; just watch him chugging down that vodka) where he’s giving it his Oscar-nominatable best, he seems too familiar. I think it may be because he’s an actor who is more effective the less he does. In 2 Guns he’s not doing less, but sometimes it seems like it. That’s because the last person I’d ever expect blows him off the screen; Mark Wahlberg.

This risotto is shmackin’, dude.

Stranger Things Season 4: Part I (SPOILERS) I haven’t had cause, or the urge, to revisit earlier seasons of Stranger Things , but I’m fairly certain my (relatively) positive takes on the first two sequel seasons would adjust down somewhat if I did (a Soviet base under Hawkins? DUMB soft disclosure or not, it’s pretty dumb). In my Season Three review, I called the show “ Netflix’s best-packaged junk food. It knows not to outstay its welcome, doesn’t cause bloat and is disposable in mostly good ways ” I fairly certain the Duffer’s weren’t reading, but it’s as if they decided, as a rebuke, that bloat was the only way to go for Season Four. Hence episodes approaching (or exceeding) twice the standard length. So while the other points – that it wouldn’t stray from its cosy identity and seasons tend to merge in the memory – hold fast, you can feel the ambition of an expansive canvas faltering at the hurdle of Stranger Things ’ essential, curated, nostalgia-appeal inconsequentiality.

That, my lad, was a dragon.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) (SPOILERS) It’s alarming how quickly Peter Jackson sabotaged all the goodwill he amassed in the wake of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. A guy who started out directing deliciously deranged homemade horror movies ended up taking home the Oscar for a fantasy movie, of all genres. And then he blew it. He went from a filmmaker whose naysayers were the exception to one whose remaining cheerleaders are considered slightly maladjusted. The Desolation of Smaug recovers some of the territory Jackson has lost over the last decade, but he may be too far-gone to ever regain his crown. Perhaps in years to come The Lord of the Rings trilogy will be seen as an aberration in his filmography. There’s a cartoonishness to the gleeful, twisted anarchy on display in his earlierr work that may be more attuned to the less verimilitudinous aspects of King Kong and The Hobbit s. The exceptions are his female-centric character dramas, Heavenly Creat

Gizmo caca!

Gremlins (1984) I didn’t get to see Gremlins at the cinema. I wanted to, as I had worked myself into a state of great anticipation. There was a six-month gap between its (unseasonal) US release and arrival in the UK, so I had plenty of time to devour clips of cute Gizmo on Film ’84 (the only reason ever to catch Barry Norman was a tantalising glimpse of a much awaited movie, rather than his drab, colourless, reviews) and Gremlins trading cards that came with bubble gum attached (or was it the other way round?). But Gremlins ’ immediate fate for many an eager youngster in Britain was sealed when, after much deliberation, the BBFC granted it a 15 certificate. I had just turned 12, and at that time an attempt to sneak in to see it wouldn’t even have crossed my mind. I’d just have to wait for the video. I didn’t realise it then (because I didn’t know who he was as a filmmaker), but Joe Dante’s irrepressible anarchic wit would have a far stronger effect on me than the un