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2.14 - Traitor in Zebra

 
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Rate 'Traitor in Zebra'
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9
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8
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7
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Total Votes : 8

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darren
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 8:30 am    Post subject: 2.14 - Traitor in Zebra Reply with quote

Written by John Gilbert
Directed by Richmond Harding
Production completed: 29 November 1962

Starring Patrick Macnee and Honor Blackman
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Frankymole
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My review:

http://www.theavengers.tv/forever/gale1-11vr.htm#2

The Avenged?: A scapegoat for leaked missile-tracking secrets. Refreshingly set on a Royal Navy shore station in Wales, this story has some cutting-edge science in laser-ranging (LADAR) and microwave jamming. At one point, Steed nearly walks into a trap that will cook him! The Avengers almost invented the microwave oven before its time.

Diabolical Masterminds?: A trio of spies, some passable performances. Steed says "you're always safe with a pipe smoker." It turns out, of course, that you aren't. Steed mercilessly traps the man in a room with his own bomb, insisting he defuse it for a tense few moments it seems he genuinely doesn't know how to. Good acting in the desperate screaming department!

The Avengers?: Cathy and Steed get on like a house on fire. Their scenes together give one a warm glow. Steed drives his first vintage car on-screen, a magnificent 1930s Lagonda (whilst posing as a Navy psychiatrist, so it is apparently part of his disguise).

Umbrella, Charm and a Bowler Hat?: A Royal Navy commander's rig for Steed. It rather suits him, even if Cathy has to remind him to remove his hat "between decks." Well, he was an army man.

Bizarre?: All that rigmarole with codes sent by dartboard, dog's collars, etc., does not disguise the route the spies use; in fact, it draws attention to them. And the properties of a ruby used for lasers are described in just 5 digits really?!

On Target? (Score): Two bowlers out of four. 5/10.
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Rhonda
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

7 from me. This one has interesting aspects with the navy, radio transmissions and spies.
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Ron
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johnnybear
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 03, 2021 12:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It must be fifteen years since I've seen this one but didn't it have William Gaunt and Richard Leech as guest stars? Now Gaunt was in a lot of stuff about this time and he's another actor whom I found it strange never returned to the series!
JB
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mousemeat
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 03, 2021 7:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rhonda wrote:
7 from me. This one has interesting aspects with the navy, radio transmissions and spies.


I would concur...and also give it a ' 7 ' and I believe position 7, received the most votes...but that could change..good dialogue as well..
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Lee
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Joined: 15 Oct 2017
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 04, 2021 7:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As Johnny commented on this episode this morning, and I hadn't seen it for a long time, just like My Wildest Dream yesterday, i decided to give it a spin.

Firstly, the print seems to have cleaned up nicely on the Optimum discs, and the sound is relatively clear. I always find that helps with archive material, and I think the quality of both can be something that puts others from trying older programmes.

On the whole, it is a very solid performance from everyone involved. There is a nice set up, with enough to mystery to keep the episode going. The naval base makes a good setting, and do with Cathy already in situ, Steed makes a grand entrance on some nice filmed inserts. Is this one of the first times we see him with a vintage car?

The sets look complete, which always helps. Attention has been paid to detail, and it doesn't really seem like a television studio, so a good job done.

Steed and Mrs Gale work really well together, complementing each other. There isn't some of the friction that there can be between the two characters, except for Caths's disagreement with the the way Steed handles the finale. Speaking of which, Steed is quite aggressive in this episode. His interrogation of the suspect, his handling of the sweet shop girl - he really is a get the job done type of man this week. Fortunately there is light relief, especially when Mrs Gale attacks him and he falls on the bed with her on top of him . His reaction when he sees who it is has that naughty Steed twinkle in his eye.

I was pondering some of the other active threads at the moment discussing the changes in Steed's character development between series 3 and 4 whilst watching this. Yes, his speech patterns are more rapid and clipped, and he appears more cocky in these earlier episodes. I also wonder if MacNee did a little more adlibbing in these episodes, as a t times he seems to be making it up on the spot, but learned the script more when on film - who knows...

Overall, an enjoyable outing and shows there is a lot to enjoy in the early days of the show.

I give this 8.
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darren
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2021 7:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

7/10

I don't for one moment buy that this is set in Wales (the outskirts of south west London are bit too flat) but it's nice to have quite a substantial amount of location work.

I like it whenever the Avengers features a pub that they're staying in as that makes it quite homely.

Another one where I managed to follow what was going on this time - it's actually quite a simple plot.

It's got a good cast and effective direction from Richmond Harding - one of the better directors of season 2 (I'd have swapped him with Kim Mills for season 3).
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Frankymole
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2021 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

darren wrote:
7/10

...
It's got a good cast and effective direction from Richmond Harding - one of the better directors of season 2 (I'd have swapped him with Kim Mills for season 3).
I'm just about to (re)watch it after an 8 year gap - possibly more. Wish me luck! I hope I have increased enjoyment the way I have with several series 2 episodes (though I still can't love Venus). I gave it 5/10 before. Can it rise above mediocre? Let's hope William Gaunt becomes my Champion.
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Frankymole
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2021 1:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So far the research seems spot on. References to the egg-head on loan from Malvern, which was then the Royal Radar Establishment and is now one of DSTL's software centres (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, formed from amalgamations of previous branches like the Defence Operational Analysis Establishment/Centre and the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency, as well as the old Admiralty Research Establishments - prime Avengers territory, not least as most of their bases look like, and probably actually are, places the later seasons were filmed).

Annoyingly, writer John Gilbert is not listed as working on anything else, apart from providing the "idea" for an episode of Crane (Patrick Allen-starring thriller series). Was the name a pseudonym for another writer, possibly a Navy or Ministry of Defence/War Office person?

Nice to see another "Number Two" from The Prisoner as well - the wonderfully sinister John Sharp. I only really knew him from the Yorkshire vet series "All Creatures Great and Small". I think he's in Murdersville?

Why does the huge, prominent clock behind the bar of The Glendower Arms have no hands? I might be missing a joke.

Nice night filming (in the rain!) and a murder in one of those cars with the flip-up indicator "ears" like my grandfather used to drive!
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Frankymole
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2021 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh yes, and this now lost art of telecommunications technology. I remember there still being "Button A and Button B" public pay phones in pubs in Surrey in the mid-1990s. I probably lost money not knowing what "Button B" was for.

https://adam-yamey-writes.com/2019/10/06/press-button-a/

Hilarious to see satellite-tracking ruby-laser LADAR alongside these clunky analogue phones, but I suppose they were both contemporaneous for another 30+ years, longer than people generally think.

Lots of pub games - dominoes, darts, cards... we've had snooker in the Navy ward room too. A far cry from the chess motif of later seasons, but I like it - it's very British, not the American networks' idea of British.

Oh, and I finally found out what PPI (or "peepy eye") really means. Long infamous in British comedy and annoying telephone scams about "Payment Protection Insurance", it's actually a kind of radar display. Plan Position Indicator. We had a better sense of humour in the past.
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Frankymole
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2021 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There seems to be a scene missing on the Optimum DVD. After Franks visits Linda in her dad's sweet shop, Steed enters and asks for some black Russian cigarettes, then they have an exchange about Franks and Linda says he is just a friend. Steed says that if she changes her mind, he's staying at the Glendower Arms. This is entirely missing from the DVD, which instead goes straight from Franks' threat about needing to be alive to enjoy the money* and use her beauty and talents, to Cathy and Graham outside the Control Room.

Is this missing scene on any earlier releases, or was it cut before transmission?

Weird to see June Murphy playing another Maggie after being in the sea-base episodes of Dr Who, playing Maggie... in "Fury From the Deep" in 1968. She was also a naval officer herself in "The Sea Devils" in 1972, on a land-based HMS station.

I wonder what happened to her? The BBC have been unable to trace her for residuals. Her final acting credit was in 1976, on The Mike Reid Show, four years after her final drama appearance.



* a bit of a liberty. The cheapskate's only got her to 80 and Maggie in the pub has already got 60-odd without needing to be a traitor.
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Frankymole
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2021 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

https://www.dissolute.com.au/the-avengers-tv-series/series-2/211-traitor-in-zebra-other.html

"46:41 - a crew member crosses the back of the set, visible through the open door of the control room." To me, it looks like Steed getting into position to ambush Franks. Looks far too well-dressed for a crew man! I'd expect them to be in shirtsleeves not a jacket, and the clothes do resemble Steed's in the following scene.
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Last edited by Frankymole on Sat Sep 04, 2021 12:16 am; edited 1 time in total
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darren
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2021 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wasn't aware of the missing scene.

I know that there was a pre-recorded scene when the suspected junior officer is pronounced innocent but they left it out as the episode was overrunning. Maybe the scene is the shop was excised due to the overrun too.

I've only ever seen the episode on dvd so don't know if it was previously released with more material (my familiarity with Conspiracy of Silence - plus following with the script - made me notice the bit that was missing on the first disc pressing).

It wasn't until looking at the credits that I realised it was June Murphy - I couldn't place her. Yeah, it's interesting that these people just fall off the radar - she's owed a lot of royalty apparently.
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Frankymole
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 04, 2021 12:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

darren wrote:
I wasn't aware of the missing scene.

I know that there was a pre-recorded scene when the suspected junior officer is pronounced innocent but they left it out as the episode was overrunning. Maybe the scene is the shop was excised due to the overrun too.
Piers's site says "31:38 - the original script has Steed enter the shop after Franks threatens to kill Linda, but it was dropped and we cut straight to Cathy and Graham in the lab." Though it is on the camera script, which is pretty late on in the process, so who knows when it got excised - it might have been dropped just before recording.
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Frankymole
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 04, 2021 3:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

William Gaunt is brilliant in this, he really stands out from pretty much all the guest actors in previous episodes and is clearly leading-man material. It's a crime he didn't get the lead in a series until "The Champions". And was doomed to sitcom hell in the 1980s (though I quite enjoy "No Place Like Home", at least before Martin Clunes was recast. But it's hardly making best use of Gaunt's talents as a natural screen actor).
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