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1.15 - The Frighteners

 
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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
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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 breathe 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; 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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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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Spaceship Dispatcher
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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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Operation E.N.G.L.A.N.D.
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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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johnnybear
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2021 5:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have the Emma Peel disc 17 and rewatched this episode recently but found it very bright in contrast to the other surviving episodes of the first series? Godfrey James as Nature Boy was a laugh. Well not his performance but his name, where did they get it from and why? Willoughby Goddard as the Deacon was a nasty bit of goods and usually appears unable to do much due to his sizable bulk but here he seemed to move with ease when needed! Doris Hare, this time not playing Stan's mum was an added bonus to the finale!
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Frankymole
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2021 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I listened to the Big Finish version just now and followed the 1990s dialogue sheets from the Tunnel of Fear DVD extras (there's no script). Mostly very enjoyable but I have a few niggles with some of the changes which I didn't think were necessary, or were actors misreading their audio script (like saying "well?" instead of the name "Weller").

"Softly, softly" is a figure of speech from the phrase "softly, softly, catchee monkey" so it shouldn't have a long pause between the two "softly"s as if they're ending and then starting different sentences.

They got "shiv his ear off" right though, whereas the dialogue sheets went for "shift" which made no sense. And "The Eye-tie" (a slightly pejorative description for an Italian person) became "high tide" in the dialogue sheets, luckily Big Finish went for "The Eye-talian" as a halfway house that's more acceptable to modern sensibilities.

"The drum" a slang term meaning a flat, apartment or residence became "the one" possibly because the adapter doesn't listen to enough Hancock's Half Hour and the like... there are a few more like that. Grekio, the supposed bus conductor contact of Steed's, seemed to be a random bloke on foot which made his televisually amusing remarks about how to catch a bus back home somewhat perplexing. I'm glad they generally left in Macnee's and Hendry's ad-libbed/fluffed bits though as it shows the characters under stress; people do sometimes trip over their words in real life confrontations.

There were some intended laughs (Steed posing as the dimwitted escort always amuses, and Keel and Steed have some witty lines to each other, especially after Steed threatens Moxon in the surgery). Moxon was excellently played, worthy of Philip Locke himself - Laurence Spellman trebled-up in roles (Moxon / Jeremy de Willoughby / Fred the Cabbie) and was really good and unrecognisable as the same actor.
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Frankymole
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2021 1:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Operation E.N.G.L.A.N.D. wrote:

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?
Yes, she had to be 21 according to the script in order to marry without her parent's permission, and that was going to take another 6 months to happen - De Willoughby and Nigel had debt collectors on their backs who would not wait. Although De Willoughby and Marylin could legally marry north of the border in Scotland it would still be an offence when they came back to England so De W would have to do a short term in gaol (2 weeks), but better that than get beaten up (or worse, depending on how dodgy they were) by the loan sharks. I assume Marylin must've been rich in her own right, hence her father "protecting" her. Presumably, if she hadn't yet come into money it would've been of no use to Jeremy De Willoughby to try and marry her, e.g. if her inheritance from her mother, or whatever it was, could not come to her yet until she is "of age" (21). So she must've been granted that before but maybe with provisos her father looked after it until she got married.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2021 4:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

always liked Ian...and always thought he never really got the time to flesh out his character..and truly settle into his role...Imagine how both Ian and the series would have played out, if Ian never have ankled the series for a movie career..and Steed ? what direction would he had taken as well ?
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Frankymole
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2021 5:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The intended 39-episode series would certainly have given Dr Keel's character space to be "fleshed out" and Ian Hendry would've no doubt continued to add details, as a way of maintaining interest whilst working out his contract.

I'm a romantic at heart so do hope he and Carol Wilson, his nurse/receptionist, would've continued to develop their relationship. It would've been good dramatically as well, since he'd have the worry that she might be put in danger or even killed by his criminal foes as he continued his crusade against the Underworld, which was what got him into the Avenging business in the first place.

On the other hand Carol was brave and wanted to be involved, so she may have become his "Mrs Gale" whilst Steed was beginning to be aided by female agents like Melanie in "The Springers".

That said, they already had plans to bring in Venus Smith, albeit Angela Douglas was favourite for the position, thanks to her great sense of comedy, but proved unavailable. Although it would've let Hendry and Macnee have more holidays, I don't think it would've helped Keel become more of a hero in his own right.

But every hero needs someone to talk to about the plot, I guess. Even as late as the Tara King era they were fixing up Steed and his partner with temporary (and often useless) single-episode partners of their own. Gambit may have sometimes felt like a third wheel as a week-in, week-out regular, but at least he was there when they needed someone for Purdey or Steed to explain things to!
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2021 6:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hadn't watched this one in ages but have started dipping into the early episodes again.

The pace of this is so fast. There's lot of short snappy scenes which are difficult to get quite right with the as-live production but they manage it mostly. The microphone doesn't always manage to pick up the dialogue (exacerbated by the telerecording sound quality) - many of Ian Hendry's lines tend to get lost. There'a few moments where it seems to be that he is add-libbing - most apparent if he makes Macnee laugh. I love Steed's parade of informants - shame we didn't see more of that.

The De Willoughby part of the plot is kind of secondary to the main thrust of nabbing The Deacon. He's got lots of debts and keep trying to marry women for their fortune. It amuses me that Marilyn Weller drops him when she thinks he's a commoner - snob! Doris Hare's funny as De Willoughby's fake mum - "Sweecies Forceheart".

Phillip Locke is so different from his other performances and very believable as a young thug. Then you've got Willoughby Goddard as the Deacon, a really nasty performance - such a contrast to his funny turn as the Professor in Thingumajig. Stratford Johns is solid. I'm so used to just hearing Philip Gilbert's voice in The Tomorrow People as computer Tim that's nice to see him - very handsome man.

Directed by Peter Hammond (my favourite!) - with future director Robert Fuest as his designer you can see them doing what Brian Clemens described in the early 90's without walls documentary. The restaurant De Willoughby is in is his table on a rostrum, a tilted mirror with water running down it and a couple at another table yet it looks wonderful. Weller's home is a large wall tapestry and a phone (more or less). I love these creative conomical solutions.

I always really enjoy it this episode from one time writer Berkeley Mather. Mather wrote the screenplay for Dr. No, uncredited on From Russia With Love and the story for Goldfinger (I've just discovered that).
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Frankymole
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 25, 2022 6:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Medusa Cascade has now put her reaction video for this episode up on YouTube. Enjoy!

(On Patreon she has full-length reactions to Mr Teddy Bear and Propellant 23 as well full-lengths for the rest of the surviving Season 1 episodes, and is absolutely loving the Steed & Cathy duo).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOTxp-QHgaE&list=PLbldZn582hop7IDRCJ0TihXfgNx1Cjc44&index=3
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 25, 2022 7:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Frankymole wrote:
The intended 39-episode series would certainly have given Dr Keel's character space to be "fleshed out" and Ian Hendry would've no doubt continued to add details, as a way of maintaining interest whilst working out his contract.

I'm a romantic at heart so do hope he and Carol Wilson, his nurse/receptionist, would've continued to develop their relationship. It would've been good dramatically as well, since he'd have the worry that she might be put in danger or even killed by his criminal foes as he continued his crusade against the Underworld, which was what got him into the Avenging business in the first place.

On the other hand Carol was brave and wanted to be involved, so she may have become his "Mrs Gale" whilst Steed was beginning to be aided by female agents like Melanie in "The Springers".

That said, they already had plans to bring in Venus Smith, albeit Angela Douglas was favourite for the position, thanks to her great sense of comedy, but proved unavailable. Although it would've let Hendry and Macnee have more holidays, I don't think it would've helped Keel become more of a hero in his own right.


But every hero needs someone to talk to about the plot, I guess. Even as late as the Tara King era they were fixing up Steed and his partner with temporary (and often useless) single-episode partners of their own. Gambit may have sometimes felt like a third wheel as a week-in, week-out regular, but at least he was there when they needed someone for Purdey or Steed to explain things to!



Good points...especially reflecting on the Linda/Tara era....and yeah, at times, I also thought Gambit was like a 3rd wheel....and the series surely could have used a third season, and better budget..
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