2.19 - The Golden Eggs

Rate 'The Golden Eggs'

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Total votes: 12

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darren
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2.19 - The Golden Eggs

Post by darren »

Written by Martin Woodhouse
Directed by Peter Hammond
Production completed: 31 January 1963

Starring Patrick Macnee and Honor Blackman
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Post by Frankymole »

My review:

http://www.theavengers.tv/forever/gale1-19vr.htm

Cathy (menacing): Are you in the market for a handful of death?" This is as exciting as any early 60s TV and deserves a detailed viewing, as every element of production stretches as-live videotaped drama beyond its usual limits. Oddly, I wasn't that keen on it when I first watched it on murky VHS out of context. Seeing it on DVD, in amongst season 2, it's finer points become obvious.

Production: As well as the usual notable Hammond shots (in cracked mirrors, etc.), there's innovative fade-cutting between two simultaneous scenes (Cathy/Dr Ashe and Redfern). As soon as this story ended, I wanted to watch it again. Douglas James' designs are the best seen in the series so far. The multi-level sets are shown off at every angle, very three-dimensional, varied, cleverly lit, interesting — tons of scope for Peter Hammond to pile on the atmosphere and squeeze every last ounce of possibility. Notable sets include... well, all the main ones: the house/scrap yard, conservatory/lab, dungeon-cellar. Most of them see a couple of short but enjoyable scuffles (maintaining plot momentum). Honor Blackman's acting is flawless, as the stories now often make hers the pivotal role; Hammond also gives her some dynamic stuff to do (not merely fights, but just being intense and eye-catching, a kind of acting without speaking — didn't they used to call it "smouldering"?). It's often clear that she is inarguably movie star material. Somehow, she's magnetic.

The Avenged?: Europe's number one safe-breaker. Steed identifies his incinerated remains by the tungsten-carbide drill bits he always wore as a lucky charm. He tangled with "Virus Verity Prime... the world's most recent killer". Cathy is sickened: "Mass murder at bargain prices." The biological warfare angle is more relevant today than ever.

Diabolical Masterminds?: "It's as well to make sure, other wise you feel such a fool" as Redfern checks the eggs actually are in their box. A nice nod to Steed's trick in "Mr Teddy Bear", perhaps. Redfern is an amoral dilettante, obsessed with clockwork music-boxes. Peter Arne redeems himself from "Warlock"s strained Gallion, because here his smooth underplaying suits the role — controlling each strand of his criminal web with a minimum of effort and drawled threats. He's still not 100% convincing, but there's a tangible feeling of menace, of a psychopath at work.

Epic?: It nearest rival to the title of masterpiece of this season (so far) is "Mr Teddy Bear," which starts as a slow-burner then builds to an involving climax when the real mastermind appeared. This episode starts on a high and grips consistently all the way through. Compared to the previous episode produced (a Venus Smith travesty) it is like watching another series entirely. This has the zest of people who care about what they're doing.

The Avengers?: Cathy, paintbrush gripped between her teeth, is restoring broken pottery. She greets Steed with a venomous "If you jog this table, I'll kill you." Immediately after dismissing as fallacy the identification of burnt remains victims from dental records, Steed harangues Cathy from his balcony whilst brushing his teeth. Later, Steed moans that she's left only an empty yogurt carton and a cream cracker, so departs to the delicatessen at the crucial moment, missing the final showdown!

Umbrella, Charm and a Bowler Hat?: Many moments to savour — almost every exchange between Cathy and Steed has an edgy fizz. She's borrowing his flat, filling it with hatboxes and archaeology. It seems she's between apartments, but not before the audience is teased with wondering quite how they come to be breakfasting together. They quibble like a married couple whilst he cuts out the cowboy cutouts from a packet of "Wild West Cornflakes" — Cathy points out that people normally empty the packet first. Mind you, the table-manners of both are atrocious!

Bizarre?: There's a well-judged film insert of the ambulance's road accident which climaxes Act One. Although implausible (the road is well-lit by headlights and clear, so Hillier's fake headlights trick would be seen a mile off), the actual impact is suggested with a stylistic verve that pulls it off. The studio cast put a lot of effort into their performances: the virus infection is chillingly suggested, but the most tense moment for me was wondering if Cathy's finger was going to be bitten by Dr Ashe's guinea pigs! Many parts of this episode teeter on the threshold of Emma-era greatness.

The telerecording is crisp as crisp can be and the film transfer pretty perfect. Crystal-clear DVD sound and a lack of goofs, coupled with the top-notch design, acting, direction and pacing make this an excellent introduction to the Cathy stories. A high point of season 2, and Cathy saves the day, virtually solo.

On Target? (Score): "All warfare is biological." Loses half-a-bowler for its gruesome premise. Three-point-five out of four bowlers, this is not uplifting escapism, and certainly not for the squeamish. 8/10.
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Post by darren »

Other might have Too Many Christmas Trees as their Christmas episode but not me, The Golden Eggs is mine. Every year (though sadly not last year), I make an effort to get in a viewing of this perfect episode. It's so wonderfully wintery, cold, bleak, cosy, gloomy, hopeless with a sprinking of fun. A cracking script from Martin Woodhouse. We've got an eccentric villain and his boo hiss henchman. We also get the respite of Steed and Cathy struggling to maintain their lives in the same space. It's got some inventive set design and it's all so stylishly and beautifully directed by Peter Hammond.

10/10
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Post by Frankymole »

You've got a point. I should really rate this higher, 9/10 at least. The direction and design are perfect (as is the acting), it's the subject-matter I find icky. Still it's great that in its early years the Avengers could mix grit with stylishness - a mix they found increasingly hard during Emma's years.
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Post by cyberrich »

9/10 from me. Season 2 doesn't contain as many classics as season 3, but this is certainly one of them. This episode, though stark in nature, is a sign of things to come with it's bizarre plot and terrific pace, all filmed in those unusual camera angles. The tragic actor Peter Arne, though acting in a somewhat hammy way, made a terrific villain here. Rich.
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Post by Avengerholic »

Watched this, this afternoon with huge mug of coffee and a cheese and pickle roll :lol: Terrific episode which reminded me very much of a later era story. I loved the eccentric villain and his clockwork toys, the unusual wintery setting, the futuristic prop housing the golden eggs and Honor was on top form as Cathy, the stamping on Steeds foot was epic :D Was that a blooper when Cathy appeared to spill her cereal ?? Wasn't quite sure why the villain collapsed at the end, I was half expecting to see something stuck in his back as he fell, but nope ??
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Post by MikeR »

Great piece of drama. I especially liked it when everything was blacked out and the villain threatened to come in the other room and shoot them. To which an unarmed Cathy replied that if he attempted that she would break the eggs and kill them all.
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Post by Rhonda »

7 from me for an enjoyable hint perhaps of the more surreal stories to come down the years.
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Post by cyberrich »

I've just watched The Golden eggs again. This has always been one of my favourite season 2 episodes and I see I gave this one a respectable 9 a few years ago. Mauritius Penny used to be my favourite from this season but I'm now convinced The golden eggs is the very best season 2 episode. A great script that is now eerily relevant and filmed in a terrific film noir style. I now rate this episode 10 out of 10 :!:
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Post by Lee »

As my wife was away for the night, I decided to have a bit of an Avengers Marathon. As this episode had come to the top of the list in this year's titles and I didn't remember much about it, I decided to give the disc another spin.....

I watched it straight after Tunnel of Fear, and I hadn't appreciated how Steed's character had changed even in that short space of time (yes, I know it is a year, but Town of no Return is still a few years away).

As others have said, quite a gripping little story with some menacing undertones: biological warfare, the deliberate crashing of am ambulance and the complete torching of it afterwards - all a little bleak.

Honour really was on top form. Such as strong, beautiful actress playing an equally strong, beautiful character. Good to see her nailing her character so well: yes, she'll do it, but now she'll do it her way.

As others have said, the snowy, wintering setting made a nice change, and the villain obsessed with his clockwork toys - could almost have come out of season 5, yet underplayed to make him seem more of a threat and
believable.

I give this a good solid 9.
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