Mission to Montreal
I don't know why but I've always found myself drawn to this one. Not that I think it's particularly good, but perhaps because it's so bad it's good. A perfect exercise in an over-long melodrama, it's so different than the rest of the show, even the Blackman episodes. I think I like it in parts as opposed to the whole. Most players are campily wooden, but Macnee's performance feels a bit more relaxed and fun to watch. I love the fact that he does his own stunts (e.g. carrying the drunk over his shoulders, and the fight scene with Brand at the end). In the Peel episodes they throw in a stunt man if he just sneezes too violently...
After The Avengers, did Jon Rollason go on to play in The Thunderbirds? If not, he's a dead ringer for a couple of the characters. In fact, I could have sworn I saw the strings in this episode... The steward delivering flowers before the ship launched was worthy of a spot in The Celluloid Closet (Nobody ever sends me flowers!)... The stereotypical villain (Brand) with the eye patch for added evilness... It also seemed odd that the man who played the drunk had so much screen time and yet never uttered a word. (It was my only line! — Monty Python)... Finally, the scene with Carla's stand-in getting knifed made me realize how many women did get killed in the Gale era, distancing itself from the style of the EP years that much more.
1) In the beginning, as the director moves from talking to Carla to one of the stagehands, the camera following him runs into something... you can hear the crash just before the camera shakes.
2) Sheila was fumbling with the phone trying to put it back in it's cradle after the call was finished.
3) While Dr. King and the body guard were presumably the only ones on deck talking together, you hear someone coughing briefly off-stage (one of the production crew?).
I'll give it three bowlers.
By the way, a teddy bear was picked up from the couch in Carla's room, and I suspect it was the same one used in "Mr Teddy Bear."
Mission to Montreal
This episode is worth watching just for the simple two words: Martin King. What's not to like about this attractive yet sardonic doctor who has, for some unknown reason, gotten involved in espionage? Not to mention the fact that Steed's cheeky remarks throughout are priceless. In my opinion, this installment is the best of the MK trilogy, having everything an Avengers fan could want: intrigue, romance, double agents, humour, and most importantly that classic Avengers quality, chemistry.
Sparks fairly fly between Martin and Carla in several scenes. And the relationship between King and Steed, which has been called "at best, ambiguous" is nevertheless amusing. Steed's playing with the good doctor as merely a pawn in his spy game is delightfully absurd. Whereas you get the impression that Keel actually enjoys playing secret agent, the Martin King episodes leave you to imagine that Steed has some unexplained hold on him which causes him to lend aide to Steed's little missions.
Best scene: Steed taunts the good doctor about his oriental robe ("Don't tell me you actually bought that").
Best line: Steed advises Dr. King, "You're not planning to wear that. It's death to the most rudimentary of romance."
Of course, there are the little drawbacks, such as the muffled dialogue, shifty cameras, and confusing fight scene, but these minor flaws hardly take away from the general appeal of the episode.
All in all, a charming little jewel, if only for the fact that it is one of John Rollason's few screen appearances. I'm amazed that somebody didn't discover him. He wasn't exactly the best actor, but he certainly wasn't wooden or a "puppet."
Mission to Montreal
The Avengers Afloat! The unusual locations continue, this time with a splendid cruise ship, courtesy of some tremendously atmospheric sets and lighting. It all looks quite solid and expensive. There is barely a fluff in sight, and a rather good collection of characters to spice things up. Quite enjoyable is the superbly sinister John Bennett, as a "luxuriously" named bodyguard who spends the entire episode almost getting into fights, before being floored by a fairly docile old drunk. Lots of well-known faces in this one for nostalgic cult TV fans.
The Avenged?: A runaround after stolen microfilm, enlivened by the violent ring of enemy agents infiltrating the ship. Quite a good punch-up featuring Patrick Macnee, too.
Diabolical Masterminds? Indeed. Mark Eden and Alan Curtis as reluctant and murderous agents respectively. There is also a nice twist or two, whereby Eden's character is secretly the husband of the leading lady, and the masterspy in charge of the agents turns out to be quite a surprise. This latter twist is cleverly revealed by Steed who quotes the masterspy's recognition phrase, unaware that the character has already revealed their identity to the audience by its use.
The Avengers?: Murder mysteries on board ships rely on the cast of characters being temporarily cut off from the outside world. However, a new angle is tried: Dr King boards at the start; Steed comes aboard at the first port of call (France). Steed already has a helper called Sheila in place, and King brings his nurse. With at least three enemy agents, things start getting crowded, but it all works rather well.
Umbrella, Charm and a Bowler Hat?: All present and correct, once Steed sheds his servile steward rig. Some chuckles are to be had with his ribbing of King over the latter's chinoiserie dressing gown: "Don't let her see you in that dressing gown, old boy, it's death to the most rudimentary form of romance!" Steed gets rebuffed for a dance with the film starlet, and she takes quite a shine to Dr King for his integrity. Their growing regard for each other is well-handled, with the ring of truth: Carla: "Do you think that means I'd like to have an affair with you, subconsciously?" Dr King: "And how would you do that subconsciously?" Patricia English adeptly juggles neurosis, fear and hope.
Bizarre?: There are some rather nasty stabbings, usually just when it starts to feel like a jolly romp. The whole ship seems awash with alcohol, too, though Steed doesn't touch a drop until the end credits roll!
Very enjoyable, four bowlers.
Mission to Montreal
Plot: Good. Having someone in the public eye transporting secrets is an intriguing idea. The episode does get slow at some points, though.
Humour: Good. I loved the many remarks about Dr. King's robe. I somehow found Carla's dancing with herself quite funny.
Acting: Excellent. Patricia English stole the show. Dr. King was much better in this episode; he was given some time to develop his character, which really helped. We still need some type of background story on King, even though there is just one episode with him left.
Music: OK. Nothing other than the theme.
Tag: Good. It somewhat tidied things up, but there were still some loose ends.
Miscellaneous: Interesting that Steed didn't show up until twenty minutes into the episode. He seemed to be the secondary character, but I was very pleased to see Patrick Macnee doing a fight scene. The boat looked very fake. Overall, a rather ho-hum affair. For your information, both Mark Eden and Harold Berens guest starred in The Prisoner.
Overall Rating: 4/10
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