Sunday, January 5, 2014

Short Take: The Avengers, Season 3, Episode 12: "Don't Look Behind You"

This review was originally published on Pol Culture.

“Don’t Look Behind You,” the 12th episode from The Avengers’ third season, is one of the series’ most suspenseful. The show’s heroine, Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman), is invited to spend the weekend at a country estate. But once there, she finds her host has departed. Things at the house get stranger and stranger, until it becomes clear she was lured there by a vengeful criminal who’s obsessed with her. The teleplay, by Brian Clemens, features some remarkable absurdist characters, specifically the disturbed young actress (Janine Gray) who greets Gale at the house, and an obnoxious stranded motorist (Kenneth Colley), who has fantasies of himself as celebrity filmmakers. Peter Hammond, who directed, uses the house interiors and its oddball décor for maximum atmospheric effect. The viewer is made to identify with Gale and her feeling that she’s stepped into a madhouse from which there’s no escape. Hammond also provides some striking surrealist moments in the climax. The montage of photos of Gale--some mutilated, some not--when the villain finally attacks her is especially memorable. Gale's partner John Steed (Patrick Macnee) is absent for most of the story. He appears only in the opening scenes and the finale. The episode was remade as “The Joker” in the show’s fifth season, with Diana Rigg’s Emma Peel in Cathy Gale’s place.

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