2.25 - Six Hands Across a Table

Rate 'Six Hand Across a Table'

10
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8
3
38%
7
2
25%
6
1
13%
5
1
13%
4
0
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3
1
13%
2
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No votes
 
Total votes: 8

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2.25 - Six Hands Across a Table

Post by darren »

Written by Reed R. de Rouen
Directed by Richmond Harding
Production completed: 15 March 1963

Starring Patrick Macnee and Honor Blackman
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Post by Frankymole »

My review:

http://www.theavengers.tv/forever/gale1-25vr.htm#2

"I say, can we turn the heat up?"

This is a Cathy solo episode really, with Steed supplying tidbits of clues and bringing the cavalry at the end. I like the moment where Cathy plays back Steed's covert tape-recording and for a while it seems, to her consternation, like a normal board meeting—but her patience pays off. It was a clever idea to employ the very distinctively-voiced actor Guy Doleman.

The shipyard takeover plot is baffling, but that doesn't spoil the episode because everything is about the human tensions, action-reactions and double-crosses, and a clutch of the best '60s British TV actors breathe life into it all. It's really peculiar to see The Prisoner's future father in law (called Sir Charles in that series), playing another character Sir Charles!

The Avenged?: Poor old Collier junior (Edward de Souza) gets pole axed twice—no wonder he's upset. On both occasions it looks like he has been killed but he's suddenly hale and hearty again each time; Cathy must bring him luck. All the characters are sharply defined and the casting is spot on: ruthless Doleman, vacillating John Wentworth, unfortunate and uncertain Edward de Souza, Campbell Singer full of bonhomie ("I can't sit, stand, walk, or keep still—I'm in an 'ell of a fix!"), and calculating, insinuating Philip Madoc ("hide like a rhinoceros").

Diabolical Masterminds?: Waldner—he has to be classified as a real cad for betraying Cathy's trust, despite professing to be in love! Philip Madoc is an oily management consultant but changes sides at just the right time. His maneuvrings are quite fun to watch and it's good he ends on the side of the Steeds and angels. He's also rude to Cathy: "we can't all bow down and worship the idol, Mrs Gale". Oh yes we can!

The Avengers?: Steed finally gets into Cathy's bedroom, and wastes no time in rubbishing her boyfriend; she bristles wonderfully in response. Cathy is really elegant and sophisticated in her fantastic evening gown, hair up in a style that could only work in 1963. It's quite a shock to see her feminine side, especially as she has at least two clinches (as the camera cuts away!). After a huge fight in the draughtsmen's room, Cathy finds Collier/de Souza unconscious: as she patches him up, Honor Blackman has a cheeky smile on her face when Collier surmises of his assailant, "you probably frightened him off." Yes, he got frightened after being thrown through the furniture for the third time! The fight was quite unexpected as Cathy was wearing her raincoat! (When she has her leather on earlier, it was only because she's been out riding.)

Umbrella, Charm and a Bowler Hat?: Oliver Waldner (Guy Doleman) presses Cathy's buttons, it seems. He seems to have given a nickname to Cathy: "I need you, Rose... on your terms, if you like"—there's a palpable romantic tension between them, which works. I couldn't help but exclaim "Woof!" when Waldner puts down her glass and sweeps her off with late-era Steed-style charm and "I arrange my own contracts"... maybe that's what happens when someone promises to fly you from the Clyde to the Savoy. Cathy hasn't had a scene like this before, and Honor acts it exceptionally well, of course. She is not playing "second fiddle" to anyone. Full marks to Honor for making the end-of-Act One "scream" into a realistic "startled gasp/yell". Can't have our Cathy screaming.

Bizarre?: Good country-house sets. Cathy is rather annoyed with Steed gate crashing her bedroom to pontificate to her; she shushes him: "You've got a voice like a saw!" This bedroom scene is a gem, not to be missed. The "cellar room" leads out to the stables, apparently—there's a wooden (carousel?) horse on the wall. Telefantasy spotters will enjoy the actors from Sapphire and Steel, Doctor Who, The Prisoner, The Saint, The Persuaders!, etc.

It's a puzzle why this works—this episode doesn't do boardroom intrigue with the panache of "Bullseye" (which mixed in gunrunners and more murder), but by this stage of the series Cathy (and to some extent, Steed) have become familiar and important to me, and mixed with a bunch of actors who are interacting well and reacting as if it's all fresh and not over-rehearsed, so, oddly it becomes quite gripping. The plot becomes almost irrelevant.

On Target? (Score): "And you should have seen Cathy, taking those fences." Enjoyable—just don't try to follow the consortium politics. Three bowlers out of four. 7/10.
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Post by Charlie Parker »

Terminally boring. Lame plot, twee love story and flat direction, come back Kim Mills all is forgiven.
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Post by Dfrise »

Charlie Parker wrote:Terminally boring. Lame plot, twee love story and flat direction, come back Kim Mills all is forgiven.
A very good episode in my opinion. A rarity in that the normally steely Cathy Gale develops feelings for a character in an Avengers story. If I remember correctly, this is the only such occurrence. He quite obviously has feelings for her. Too bad she and Steed are investigating him. It can be seen by Cathy's reaction at the end that she is disheartened by the turn of events.

Steed has a great and caddish line when he sneaks into Cathy's bedroom to confer with her. Cathy vouches for the innocence of the man. "He was with me," when the victim died. Steed, "I'll bet he had his hands full." Oh! I think that Steed might have had something large and heavy thrown at him if there wasn't the need to keep quiet.
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Post by Rhonda »

1 from me. Dreary.
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Post by darren »

6/10

An episode I always forget about. The most memorable aspect being Guy Doleman calling Cathy "Ros" - a character everyone is always talking about yet she's only in two scenes.

The factory scenes help me confuse this with Immortal Clay but it's not that tedious.

I really like the scene in Cathy's bedroom when Steed climbs in through the window (with a very inappropriate music cue).

Doleman is in one of my favourite films (Ipcress File) and a great number 2 in The Prisoner but he doesn't convince as a boyfriend for Cathy as they have no discernible chemistry.

There's some nice set design from Paul Bernard. It's got Philip Madoc acting as a suspicious character who isn't actually guilty for once.

It's not essential viewing but it passes the time.
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Post by Frankymole »

Re-watching, it struck me as odd how they used the same cliffhanger for Act 1 and Act 2. In each case, Edward De Souza's character is apparently murdered and then in the follow-up he's saved and not badly hurt (mostly thanks to Cathy, though it's a bit odd she asks if anyone saw what happened for the first one, as she was right there and reacted to it). Whoever's doing the murder attempts (we never find out who physically does them) is inept, or (if it's Madoc's character?) not really trying.

Nice to have different and dramatic music for Act 2's lead-in which starts with the dramatic crescendo music instead of the usual theme.

I also wonder why they avoided the clinch each time between Guy Doleman and Cathy, when clearly they kissed (the characters, that is) - was it a contractual clause like with Patrick McGoohan? and if so - which of the two insisted in no on-screen kissing? Seems unlikely it was Honor as she did kiss Macnee in a later episode.

Great cast in this one. I hardly recognised Ilona Rodgers. Nice to have her as a down-under connection along with the Australian Guy Doleman, who has such a marvellous voice. As do Philip Madoc, of course, and Edward de Souza who was famously radio's "The Man in Black" succeeding Valentine Dyall as the sinister narrator of Appointment With Fear. Along with Macnee and Honor Blackman, such beautiful acting voices make this a treat for the ears as well as for the eyes. There are some video faults, shaky picture sometimes but as I was so involved with the characters I didn't mind. I wanted to know what happened next!

Cathy in her black, bejewelled evening gown (and cape!) ready for the Savoy is perhaps the most elegant and gorgeous she has ever looked. Her nightgown is also an amazing creation, even if she is slagging Steed off something rotten (once again he enters and exits via the window, which I find hugely amusing but for Cathy the novelty seems to have worn off quickly).

Another good script from Reed De Rouen and Richmond Harding's direction has the best elements of other directors - the human interest of Kim Mills and the visual interest and movement of Peter Hammond.

The final scene has Honor once again out-acting everyone in the episode so far as she stands in the foreground and has to put up with Steed not being able to say sorry, while her erstwhile lover is led off for murder. Largely due to her efforts in catching him out. The conflicting emotions are brilliantly portrayed, and it feels a bit sad that Diana Rigg never got as deep and mixed an emotional scene, because she would've excelled at it. But by then The Avengers was a comic strip. This is heightened reality, but hasn't yet "left the ground", and all the better for it. Wonderful.
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Post by mousemeat »

Rhonda wrote:1 from me. Dreary.
I wouldn't go as far to concur with this...but it is somewhat dreary, or lame...always did like Guy Doleman's acting chops..a solid performer in just about any role, he took....and I liked his small part in Thunderball....as a spectre agent
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Post by Frankymole »

Yes, Guy Doleman's brilliant. I love him as Harry Palmer's boss. And as the original very drily humorous Number Two in The Prisoner. It's nice to see him as a villain. He's very suave and convincing, it would've been nice if he'd reappeared in the series later on.
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Post by dissolute »

Only is the whacky world of pre-decimal, pre-metric Britain could you have a conversation like this (from my upcoming rewrite of this episode):
Seabrook informs Brian that Waldner and Stanley are back to a 45% holding, and shares have fallen to 29s 2d. Brian declares that if they fall below £1 he won’t be able to hold out any longer and they will take him over.
It is of course much worse in Bullseye:
Young offers her 45 shillings per share. She says the Brigadier offered 45/6 and he suggests they can go to 46 shillings but Cathy says Miss Ellis wouldn’t like it.
and
She offers him her shares but says they’re worth more than 42 shillings. He counters with 43/3 then they settle at 43/6.
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