The Avengers: Quick-Quick Slow Death

The TV Tomb of Mystery is an ongoing attempt to stave off acquisition of any more impulse-buy DVDs by taking better inventory of the ones already in hand.   

Today's excursion:

Season 4, Episode 19.
This is a curious one. The good folks at The Avengers Forever seem to be mostly positive on it. A plot summary - a dead man is discovered in a runaway pram, and a number of diverse clues eventually point to a dance school. Steed's and Peel's infiltration of the school reveals it is a front for a 'spy infiltration' scheme, where lonely, anonymous bachelors are replaced with enemy agents - doesn't quite communicate its various oddities.

Let's see how my Avengers template holds up.

1) Prologue introduces the mystery.

I guess this is as good a place as any to say that all of the plot details are ridiculous. The trail of breadcrumbs Steed and Peel follow is as arbitrary as it gets. But: 'twas a simpler time. And it's all fun, with more than a few memorable bits.

2) Steed visits Peel and they discuss the mystery.

Check. Though in this episode, it is Peel who visits Steed.

3) They Canvas the Scene.

All they have to go on are tattoos,
a tuxedo rental receipt,
which leads Steed to investigate a bank,
after clowning around in some hats, of course.

In case the above isn't clear, the address for the bank that Steed lifted from the tux rental place's book led to an office whose front door opened to a free-fall. A rather conspicuous way to misdirect someone.

Peel's following up on the shoes rental leads her to discover the dance school's involvement.
4) The audience gets a sense of what the baddies are up to by overhearing them discuss some aspect of their scheme. 

Check. After he nearly strangles Captain Noble (left)

5) Either Peel or Steed goes undercover.


The studio is owned by a man who is seemingly drunk all the time - more on him in a bit - but it is effectively run by one Lucille Banks, played by Diana Rigg's fellow Bond Girl Eunice Gayson.

Peel befriends fellow dance instructor Nicki, played by Carole Gray, who had a memorable run of horror films in the 1960s.

Steed can't resist going in to snoop around, either, under false pretenses.

Does Emma resent his incursion into her espionage? If so, she doesn't say. But she does pout a little.

6) Kooky Allies

In addition to the aforementioned Ms. Gray
there's Captain Noble, who's actually non-kooky enough at the beginning. But after his vocal cords are damaged in the would-be-strangling, he spends the rest of the episode rasping incoherently, or whistling in Morse Code.

Decidedly kooky.
The Italian shoemaker with a foot fetish is certainly over-the-top, particularly when he scolds Emma Peel's toes for being "naughty little chatterboxes."

It's not just the shoemaker, though. The whole episode is rather enamored of feet.

6) Guest star from prologue gets himself killed. 

This actually does not happen in "Quick-Quick, Slow Death." But everyone who is canvassed in pt. 3 ends up dead. Before he dies, though, the tattooist is able to get a message to Peel by "inking" a roll of garlic sausage.


7) Peel changes to some kinky get-up.

That doesn't quite happen here, either. This is as close as she gets to an outlandish wardrobe change.

8) The final assault.

Steed has established himself as one of the lonely, anonymous bachelors to be replaced by a communist doppelganger.

Again, it's kind of a dodgy scheme.
At the dance where they intend to swap in their commie agent for Steed - by rather adorably whisking him behind a wall so they can club him over the head - the aforementioned head baddie who appears to be pickled 24-7 conducts an orchestra of cardboard blow-ups of himself playing various instruments.

The music is pre-recorded, lest you suspect sorcery.

Needless to say, thanks to some snooping by Peel and some fisticuffs from stunt doubles, good triumphs over evil, and all the baddies and their cardboard photographic blow-ups of themselves are rounded up. Another commie infiltration: thwarted.

9) Danger bested, Mr. Steed and Mrs. Peel exchange cheeky dialogue in some manner of moving vehicle that recalls motifs of all we've just seen.

Yes and no. For once, they are not in a moving vehicle, but the episode's motifs are invoked by Steed and Peel twirling away into dreamlike mists.

All that's missing is a slow zoom unto their feet.

It's a fun episode but one I remembered a little differently. Part of the appeal of The Avengers is its favoring a quirky light-heartedness over plotting, but this one hangs together a tad too loosely for my tastes. Still, quite a few funny lines. I like when Steed pretends to be representing "Baggy Pants Limited," a top secret tailor for foreign dignitaries: You've seen pictures of those visiting Russian diplomats? Well, where do you think they get those terrible clothes from?



  1. Eunice Gayson!

    I love her in her two Bond movies, so I'm happy to see proof that she existed somewhere outside of that world, too.

    These reviews continue to convince me that I would enjoy "The Avengers."

    1. I only wish the Avengers had found a role for Zena Moyra Marshall (from Dr. No.)

      Speaking of Bond girls/ Avengers connections, Honor Blackman (aka Pussy Galore, like I need to tell YOU) was Steed's first partner, immediately before Diana Rigg/ Emma Peel. In one episode, Steed receives a postcard from Honor's character (Cathy Gale) postmarked from Fort Knox. Nice touch.

    2. Delightful. I love stuff like that!