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2.23 - Conspiracy of Silence

 
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Total Votes : 3

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Darren
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 8:41 am    Post subject: 2.23 - Conspiracy of Silence Reply with quote

Written by Roger Marshall
Directed by Peter Hammond
Production completed: 1 March 1963

Starring Patrick Macnee and Honor Blackman
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Frankymole
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 6:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My review:

http://www.theavengers.tv/forever/gale1-23vr.htm#3

My first-time trip through Season 2 is nearing its end. This episode is notable for some very strong work by Honor Blackman. She acts her socks off! Take the final scene, where Cathy finds Steed again after thinking him dead. Steed points out that she's trembling, and with obvious relish feigns surprise: "Well I'm blowed," he smirks, "You really thought you'd lost me." Cathy then looks at him and snaps, "[a] disappointment, isn't it?" and as she storms off in the final shot, she holds her hand to her left side as if she's feeling pain or trying to contain her emotions (perhaps anger at Steed's smug teasing, perhaps something else). It's a very human scene in an episode often lacking real warmth.

The Avenged?: If the Professor knew where Carlo was, and was prepared to tell Cathy for five pounds, Cathy would surely have asked him to tell Carlos' wife, who was (feigning) being sick with worry. As it stands, Cathy looks uncaring or overly suspicious of Carlo's wife or of the Professor. Loads of names are thrown at us, so it gets confusing to tell Arturo from Terry from Sica from whoever. To top it all, Leggo is really Carlo. Or something. It gets hard to know or care which name belongs to whom.

Diabolical Masterminds?: Maybe this was an attempt to do a "realistic" Mafia blackmail story, in contrast to exaggerated gangster films? Carlo was never going to be a very good assassin. Why didn't his more competent "employer" do the job himself? The lengthy location film sequence is lavish for the time, but the handheld camera work is very shaky. Unintentionally hilarious moments include Steed unable to wrest the ball from the jaws of his dog, and Carlo losing his nerve, flinging his briefcase away and escaping through some bizarre clearing where kids or lumberjacks pop up at random to impede him!

The Avengers?: Steed's escape was rather convenient, and not very plausible. He also crosses the line into irritatingly smug. Cathy can be childlike (her joy at finding the endless handkerchiefs in the horn), yet always strong and caring—she lectures a vengeful Steed about compassion. In my first viewing of her episodes, I've become a huge fan of Honor/Cathy. There's far more to her than the first impression of someone who grudgingly works for (and argues with) Steed. Not only does she care for the people she helps, this episode hints that she cares deeply for Steed in a way. She is also immensely resourceful when Steed, or others, cannot help her. (Enough worship, already. But in a poorer episode, you have to accentuate the positive.) Honor's interactions with Macnee have become very intuitive, too; off-camera teamwork is boding well for the series' longevity.

Umbrella, Charm and a Bowler Hat?: No Italian flair or fashion is on display, oddly; only a ludicrous buttonhole worn by the mafia bigwig. He sports a vulgar hugely-checked coat, and employs a leather-jacketed young roustabout. What a cad. Cathy looks the bee's knees, as usual. The caravans are nice, too. Steed promises (rather timidly, from the safe distance of the other end of a telephone!) to scrub Cathy's back. Fat chance! I do like the roguish Steed of the videotaped seasons. Contrasting with his later clean-cut image, he is a rough diamond and an interesting anti-hero, putting the mission above everything and everyone—yet the cracks begin to show as he realises Cathy cares for him. He's evolving!

Bizarre?: A rather listless tiger or two suggests the circus' encampment. Whenever they are off-camera, roaring sounds are piped into the studio. On camera they do nothing fiercer than twitch their ears. I felt quite sorry for them. At least Steed's dog gets some exercise.

Despite good sets (e.g. the Billboard Office) and valiant efforts from famed director Peter Hammond (the scene setups and camera positioning look like they were a nightmare), this ends up as ambitious but slow-moving. And I only found out that the villain's name is Sica from websites (no-one seems to name him on-screen).

On Target? (Score): One bowler out of four (2/10). I leave the final comment to Cathy: "Disappointment, isn't it?"
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Darren
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2013 2:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

8/10

This one took a while to catch on for me. On the video I was keen to get to Brief for Murder so didn't really pay much attention but it's rewarded revisits (In fact it was due to my love of this episode that I discovered the missing scene on the DVD).

Unless I'm mistaken this is Roger Marshall's first solo script. I admit that I did get a bit lost at times. With everyone lying to a degree and the cover ups, the whole Carlo was Leggo and just had different make up or whatever got a bit lost. But I like the characters and the attempt to portray Circus life and the issues they face (Marshall liked to add the real life issues).

It gets an easy few points from me for being a Hammond episode and he doesn't disappoint. He always energises Macnee's performances. There's an extra style to Macnee stuff like his umbrella and movement. This being a Cathy episode you can see the limits on Macnee (freeing him for the larger share of the nearest Venus Smith episode also rehearsed at the time - you find that a few Cathy episodes in series 2 are pretty much solo affairs when made alongside a Venus Smith episode).

Honor is brilliant and such a star, she really gives her all and it's nice when they include touches of intended humour. She's a good listener. She really has her work cut out with Willie Shearer's thick accent (he was a Chumbley in Doctor Who story Galaxy 4!Smile). He's a charming character. I like Robert Rietty, an actor normally known for his voice work dubbing Bond films (90 years old now) - he's very sympathetic here. And then there's the constantly jovial Artro Morris (so different from his sad, withdrawn nobody in How to Succeed at Murder). It's a good cast on the whole.

There's the wonderful shot mentioned in the radio programme quoted in Macnee's book of Steed rocking in and out of Cathy's shot. The circus tent is only a very small set but Hammond gets a lot of movement into it to distract. It's a very fluid look story, lots of movement. The location filming is very enjoyable (sadly not helped by being telecined into the episode out of phase so it isn't sharp enough).

Stephen Doncaster's sets are excellent. I'm sure that Hammond must have pushed the designers for something a bit more extraordinary with more visual interest. The Circus grounds are so simply achieved through the broken fences and backdrops, a nice sense of depth. The agents office held together with photos is nicely overwhelming and even the simple cellar set for the tattooist.

If the character swapping were a bit tidier and clearer, it would get more points.


Last edited by Darren on Sun Dec 02, 2018 1:20 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Lhbizness
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PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2014 1:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Frankymole wrote:
My review:

http://www.theavengers.tv/forever/gale1-23vr.htm#3

My first-time trip through Season 2 is nearing its end. This episode is notable for some very strong work by Honor Blackman. She acts her socks off! Take the final scene, where Cathy finds Steed again after thinking him dead. Steed points out that she's trembling, and with obvious relish feigns surprise: "Well I'm blowed," he smirks, "You really thought you'd lost me." Cathy then looks at him and snaps, "[a] disappointment, isn't it?" and as she storms off in the final shot, she holds her hand to her left side as if she's feeling pain or trying to contain her emotions (perhaps anger at Steed's smug teasing, perhaps something else). It's a very human scene in an episode often lacking real warmth.


Umbrella, Charm and a Bowler Hat?: No Italian flair or fashion is on display, oddly; only a ludicrous buttonhole worn by the mafia bigwig. He sports a vulgar hugely-checked coat, and employs a leather-jacketed young roustabout. What a cad. Cathy looks the bee's knees, as usual. The caravans are nice, too. Steed promises (rather timidly, from the safe distance of the other end of a telephone!) to scrub Cathy's back. Fat chance! I do like the roguish Steed of the videotaped seasons. Contrasting with his later clean-cut image, he is a rough diamond and an interesting anti-hero, putting the mission above everything and everyone—yet the cracks begin to show as he realises Cathy cares for him. He's evolving!


I don't think Steed has ever experienced someone actually giving a damn if he lives or dies. But I also don't think that he's putting the mission above everyone else - he's concerned about his own life and not about Carlo's (and really, for all Cathy's humanitarianism, why should he be concerned about Carlo? The man has been hired to assassinate him and even attempted it once). Cathy has a tendency to think the best of people, Steed the worst, but he usually winds up giving others the benefit of the doubt. In this case, he's rather justified in being more concerned about protecting his own neck than he is about Carlo's future. He shows time and again throughout the series that he's more likely to sacrifice everything to keep his partner safe - and that could be stretched to include the fate of the nation.
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Frankymole
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PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2014 8:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Perhaps overrated as patriotic agent then - no wonder they often doubted his loyalty, if he was prepared to sacrifice the country to save one fellow agent who knew the dangers themselves and wouldn't thank him for doing so.
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PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2014 8:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep - he cares more about people than he does about his missions, and that comes through a number of times. I think it shows that Steed is a better man than many spy characters - he'd rather protect people than protect ideals.
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Frankymole
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PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2014 8:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rather protect one person than protect millions of people?
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PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2014 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Guess so - although he never allows anything catastrophic to happen, and never risks a mission that would endanger the lives of millions. Just as Cathy is really more concerned about him than she is about fulfilling some assignment, Steed is really more concerned, when it comes down to it, about protecting his partner first. Maybe that's a failing in Steed's character as an agent, but not so as a man or a friend, and certainly not in terms of audience sympathy.

Given the Ministry's tendency to treat him so abominably, including torturing him, I wouldn't blame him if he did wind up betraying them. The fact that he never does, despite constant accusations and pretty nasty mistreatment, says much about his patriotism as well.

That's not what happens in this episode, of course - I just think Steed's justified in not giving a damn about what does or doesn't happen to Carlo.
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Rhonda
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2018 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

6 for me; you can't go far wrong using a circus in a story.
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