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I think, I ruminate, I plan.

Television

The Avengers
6.5: Get-A-Way

 

Another very SF story, and another that recalls earlier stories, in this case 5.5: The See-Through Man. I that one, Steed states baldly “I don’t believe in invisible men”. He was right there, but he’d have to eat his bowler here. Or half of it, anyway. The intrigue of Get-A-Way derives from the question of how it is that Eastern Bloc spies have escaped their incarceration, since it isn’t immediately announced that a “magic potion” is responsible. And if that reveal isn’t terribly convincing, Peter Bowles makes the most of his latest guest spot as Steed’s self-appointed nemesis Ezdorf.

TaraYou don’t believe in invisible men, do you?
SteedOnly when I can’t see them.

Don Sharp (Invasion of the EarthmenThe Curious Case of the Countless Clues) directs his final entry for the show, and perhaps my only related carp is that the reveal of the disappearing act is a rather ungainly jump cut; something a little more elegant would have been preferable. Still, the method the escapees have of pulling up their collars and crossing their arms before vanishing is way cool.

EzdorfIt amuses me to tell you now. It is you, Steed. You are my target.

As with Split! one can’t help but think some of the answers should have been arrived at a little sooner, most notably Ezdorf revealing that, after Rostov (Vincent Harding) has disposed of Steed’s friend George Neville (Terence Longdon) and Lubin (Robert Russell, the Caber in Terror of the Zygons, Laran in Cygnus Alpha) has done likewise to Paul Ryder (Neil Hallet, 1.23: Dead of Winter, 5.6: The Winged Avenger), Steed is his target. Well, would you believe it? And that had them stumped for years, eh? And Steed’s conclusion regarding teetotaller Lubin starting on the voddy is really beneath him (“I should think Lubin turned to drink out of sheer boredom”).

SteedThere is a difference. I kill when I have to. You, because you like it.

On similar lines, during one of his regular chats with Ezdorf, Steed explicitly announces some rarely expressed morality. Perhaps a sign of carelessness on the makers’ part? I find it preferable when his scruples are implied. Notably, Ezdorf is significantly more inflated by the notion that he is a match for Steed than the other way round (he’s clearly very impressed by our debonair spy).

Ezdorf dipping in a bath full of vodka – or pigment plastoid-infused vodka – is somewhat mundane reveal, particularly after his previous mockery of possible escapes. During this process, he pours vodka next to the door – both a curious waste of precious vanishing fuel and a moment that has the appearance of something to do with the escape bid, but isn’t.

I haven’t mentioned the location of the prison, which poses as a monastery. At least, the keepers are decked out in habits (Baxter, William Wilde of Frontier in Space; Price, Michael Culver also Captain Needa in The Empire Strikes Back; James Andrew Kier of 5.1: The Fear Merchants).

SteedLizards and their… habits?
TaraI’ve read it. It’s really rather intimate.
SteedDisgusting habits?
TaraAwful. And very crafty.

With normal forms of escape eliminated via consultation with Professor Percival Dodge (Peter Bayliss, 4.2: The Murder Market), the means to the invisibility formula is located in a copy of Bryant’s Natural History Magazine; each copy found in the cells has pages 23-26 missing. Tara attempts to contact publisher Bryant (James Belchamber, 4.20: The Quick-Quick Slow Death), but Lubin gets to him first. However, a saved copy reveals an article on lizards and their habits and an advert announcing “Runaway People Escape – with Lizard Vodka”. It’s quite a neat little set up of clues, in which Code Breaking for Beginners proves less successful than her intuition (the roman numeral note found in the escapee’s shoes instructs which pages to focus on).

EzdorfVery impressed. Steed’s taste obviously extends beyond the more bourgeoise trappings of life.

Tara is very much secondary to Steed in priorities here, although she gets a nifty fight with Lubin in which the latter is ultimately catapulted through a window. Otherwise, her presence is rather objectified in unfortunate ways throughout, reflecting the imbalance in the show’s leads at this point. An early scene features drinks between John Steed, Paul Ryder and George Neville… Which makes Tara Ringo? This trio of middle-aged men ogling Tara is a bit queasy, particular as it comes across more than ever that she’s Steed’s bit of young totty, for which he is roundly congratulated. Even Ezdorf’s at it.

SteedIt seems I appeared in the nick of time.
TaraI preferred you in pine.

The coda continues this rather unfortunate line of presentation, with Tara turning up at Steed’s flat with a new costume (“I bought it especially for you”). Meanwhile, Steed is behind the sofa in another “youthful” shirt, announcing the most bizarrely innuendo-laced ending of the show so far. So much so, it’s almost beyond innuendo. They both disappear out of shot to examine the problem…

Steed: I’ve got a leak in my tuba.
TaraWhere?
SteedHere.

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