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1.15 - The Frighteners

 
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Rate 'The Frighteners'
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Total Votes : 12

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Darren
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 10:31 am    Post subject: 1.15 - The Frighteners Reply with quote

Teleplay by Berkely Mather

Directed by Peter Hammond

Production completed: 25 May 1961
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Frankymole
A Touch of Brimstone


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 22, 2013 9:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's nice to see Willoughby Goddard strutting his stuff, he's wonderful in "The Mind of Mr J.G. Reeder". But anyway this is a nice episode if a bit rushed or hurried in its rather breathless execution. Dr Keel doesn't seem to have as much room to breath when steed is around, so presumably series 1 was a lot more like this than "Girl on the Trapeze". Nevertheless, there's a lot going on here and some good performances, though the plot of nailing a gold-digger is slightly dull.

My review:

http://www.theavengers.tv/forever/keel-15vr.htm#3

Forget-me-not?: After several viewings on scratchy VHS, it is good to see this on DVD at last. Some dialogue remains "grittily realistic" (i.e. mumbled and near-inaudible), but that is how it was acted. Steed and Keel's caustic asides shine through. Some flubbed lines and colliding cameras remind us this is 1961, but the story moves at an unexpectedly cracking pace and the plot crams in incident and twists, requiring a repeat viewing. This is not television for the hard-of-thinking; the audience is never talked down to.

The Avenged?: The only innocent in all this is Marilyn Weller. Her father, Sir Tom, wants to bestow 'the real frighteners' (a lengthy beating from hired thugs) on her would-be fiancé. Sir Tom is said to want the Deacon's boys to go as far as murder if necessary. This dark scenario allows Steed and Keel to revel in 'gallows humour': "Do you get a pension in your job?" smirks Keel as Steed contemplates returning to the fray.

Diabolical Masterminds?: There is viciousness behind the villainy, occasionally erupting. Philip Locke convinces as sinister razor-wielding gangster Moxon. At one point though, Steed brilliantly unnerves Moxon by faking sadism, and apparently threatens to use the hood's own razor to "shiv his blithering ear off" as soon as Keel leaves them alone together! One almost feels Steed means it... In turn, Keel gets tough with The Deacon, then spoils it by grilling misguided Sir Tom, who has already cut his ties with the Deacon and his kind.

The Avengers?: Steed has a bizarre string of informers; a flowerseller, a street-sweeper, a bus conductor, a restaurateur (Steed speaks fluent Neapolitan/Italian in two separate scenes). These help explain how he knows things which we never see him learn — such as the fact someone's hired The Deacon to beat up Jeremy in the first place, the "dirt" on Jeremy's past, and exactly which escort agency to infiltrate to take Marilyn to the ball! Steed must have a big budget for so many 'helpers', and for hogging the same taxi all evening.

Umbrella, Charm and a Bowler Hat?: The brolly is scarce or missing. Steed gets little chance to flirt; he pretends to be an ineffectual male escort, but only to get past Sir Tom. He whisks Marilyn off to a small party in Keel's garishly-decorated surgery, for her planned elopement with Jeremy. Steed charms the old flowerseller: "I'll bet you get off before you get home, with this in your buttonhole" she tells her 'real gentleman' as she bestows a carnation. Almost everyone gets called "ducky" at some point — seems to be an early 1960s thing. Finally, Steed gets convivial with "the Forces' Sweetheart of two World Wars", to Keel's wry amusement.

Bizarre?: There are one or two silly moments (Steed asking the parrot for a racing tip for "the Derby", rather too early to be a bowler-hat joke) but mostly they aid, rather than detract from, the 'thriller' atmosphere. And Steed's final gambit (sorry) is rather daft. For all its technical faults, this forms a good introduction to the videotaped shows.

On Target? (Score): 9/10. (Or three-and-a-half bowlers out of four.)
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Rhonda
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 6:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Frankymole wrote:
...Dr Keel doesn't seem to have as much room to breath when steed is around, so presumably series 1 was a lot more like this than "Girl on the Trapeze"...

That's an interesting point and I do also feel that, at times in The Frighteners, that Patrick doesn't give Ian much time for his lines. There are understandably, a few acting nerves about in this one. However whether that happened much in Series 1 is hard to know; as in Hot Snow there were few nerves and they gelled very well.
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anti-clockwise
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rhonda wrote:
Frankymole wrote:
...Dr Keel doesn't seem to have as much room to breath when steed is around, so presumably series 1 was a lot more like this than "Girl on the Trapeze"...

That's an interesting point and I do also feel that, at times in The Frighteners, that Patrick doesn't give Ian much time for his lines. There are understandably, a few acting nerves about in this one. However whether that happened much in Series 1 is hard to know; as in Hot Snow there were few nerves and they gelled very well.
I am a fan of Patrick, but I actually have trouble making out what he is saying sometimes in series 1 as he speaks so rapidly. I also have no doubt he was nervous but I do think it had a negative impact. They were still working a lot of things out from the start and it certainly did start to improve even in series 2 I believe.
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Lhbizness
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 12:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Never had much trouble with Patrick in The Frighteners, and I quite like his "male escort" performance. I actually have difficulty sometimes understanding Hendry, who tends to drop his voice in the middle or at the end of sentences. (But then I never find him as riveting on camera as many seem to - Girl on a Trapeze bores me to tears).
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dissolute
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's an interesting episode; I find Hendry better when Macnee is not on set but I suspect much of it is to do with the very wordy script - they may have found they were behind time and really had to fly through Act 3.

"Girl on the Trapeze" is possibly Hendry's best Avengers moment, but we'll never know for sure.
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Rhonda
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2015 3:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another thing we wondered, while watching both Hot Snow and The Frighteners, is that maybe Ian Hendry's relaxed acting style positively influenced Patrick Macnee's from a little later on.
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Ron
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Spaceship Dispatcher
The Ministry


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2015 6:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rhonda wrote:
Another thing we wondered, while watching both Hot Snow and The Frighteners, is that maybe Ian Hendry's relaxed acting style positively influenced Patrick Macnee's from a little later on.

That's a very interesting suggestion! Patrick, and therefore also Steed, does change slightly over the years. Something that actually adds a certain realism to a series that didn't generally seek that quality. Steed does visibly develop more than other characters in comparable shows.
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anti-clockwise
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2015 10:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spaceship Dispatcher wrote:
Rhonda wrote:
Another thing we wondered, while watching both Hot Snow and The Frighteners, is that maybe Ian Hendry's relaxed acting style positively influenced Patrick Macnee's from a little later on.

That's a very interesting suggestion! Patrick, and therefore also Steed, does change slightly over the years. Something that actually adds a certain realism to a series that didn't generally seek that quality. Steed does visibly develop more than other characters in comparable shows.
i never saw series1 until recently . steed sounds dramatically different between series1 and the tara years he seems like a diffferent person to me rather just a transformation of his character
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, this, so far, is the episode where I had the most trouble understanding what the heck people were saying, particularly Moxon and Nature Boy. (Nature Boy?). It doesn’t help that Hendry’s tendency to mumble really asserts itself in this episode. Interesting things about this episode:
1. The Deacon is an interesting character; seems like he comes from a bit higher social setting (or at least has the knowledge and manner to pass as such), which makes his willingness to beat people up and kill them all the more striking.
2. Steed has a network to rival the Baker Street Irregulars in this one. Is this the only time we see a black person in the show as we have it? (I know one of the lost episodes concerns the leader of an African country.)
3. The secret door opened by the cash register (and making a cash register work with the old British system of currency must have been fun!) seems to be the first touch of diabolical mastermind technology in the show, at least in the episodes we have.
4. Pretty funny when Moxon shoves Nature Boy’s cigarette into his mouth, particularly since it doesn’t seem like smoking was a particularly conspicuous act at that time.
5. Does Steed threaten to torture anyone else in the course of the series?
6. The appearance of Nigel is quite the thing, particularly since he never returns.
7. Got to give credit to Keel for just jumping right into things and managing to totally bluff his way through his encounter with the Deacon. By this point, they seem to portraying Keel as an equal to Steed in derring-do.
8. I know Brixton refers to a prison in this context, but what’s the 14 days that de Willoughby refers to? Was it illegal to elope with younger women without their parents’ permission or something?
9. As TV Tropes would put it, totally subverts the cliché to have the Deacon and his boys plotting Keel’s demise—and then have Steed and the police emerge out of hiding and drag them away before the slightest thing can happen.
10. The whole thing with hiring an actress to pretend to be Willoughby’s mother seems a bit risky, in that if he’d had more courage he could have legitimately torn her identity to shreds and that would have been the end of the plot. Fortunately for our heroes, he doesn’t seem to be that quick a thinker.
11. Steed being practically chivalrous here with his threats to expose Willoughby; again, seems quite different from the character we see in Series 2.
Overall, pretty good, though not quite as good as Girl on a Trapeze, if for no other reason than the difficulty in understanding the dialogue.
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