The Diabolical Masterminds of Series 5 (1967–8)
Arnie Packer is a one-man operation. The Winged Avenger would tolerate no assistance in his terrible purpose, ridding the world of ruthless businessmen who subjugate the poor and defenceless for their own ends.
Sounds all right to me...
One would have thought that the Avengers would have sided with him, especially given Emma Knight’s ideas on over-automation at the expense of jobs, as revealed in The House That Jack Built. They probably would have, too, if he hadn’t proved to be a complete nutter. Imagine putting Mrs. Peel’s life in peril! The ends never justify the means...
The plot, to conquer Britain by massive nuclear strikes. The essence, to repopulate Britain with a massive population that had escaped the fallout by living five miles underground throughout the ensuing nuclear winter.
No government is named as being responsible, and frankly no government would ever condone such a hare-brained scheme. The sheer logistics of conveying food and materials by submarine to a disused coal mine for the 10 — 10,000 year period necessary for radiation to drop to safe levels are ridiculous, but this was the Sixties - and age when nuclear weapons weren’t enormously dangerous, and spies ran amok throughout Western Europe.
The villainous Masgard was nonetheless exceedingly vicious, shooting at harmless derelicts as well as Steed, and had subverted the latest Duke of Benedict, Geoffrey, into serving his country’s evil plans.
His evil minions - the thoroughly nasty Mandy, the trigger-happy Tom, the death-dealing Olliphant and his firing squad - were similarly hell-bent on trampling Blighty underfoot.
Dr. Manx had a plan.
Bring down the British government, and all who reside in Britain, by controlling the brain-waves of ordinary household cats. By stimulating their brains, he was able to turn the most complacent moggies into snarling, mauling, hidden little tigers.
Ably assisted by the sultry Angora and the surly Peters, there plan just might have worked. They managed to rid themselves of the encumbrance of the Board of Directors of PURRR - who might have questioned the accounts; and they kept poor guileless Cheshire in the dark long enough to concoct their plans. Luckily Steed knocked him out before the real villains were going to kill him, otherwise he too would have been fed to the wolv- err... tigers.
Nutski is a defector with a difference.
He’s defecting from the other side, but he’s not crossing over to our side! Instead, he’s taking his ball with him and starting a new team. A team of ruthless, well-dressed, city gentlemen with impeccable manners and hearts of stone. They must be bankers or lawyers...
His major assistant in this double (triple?) dealing is the obsequious snob, Ponsonby. He runs the school training their young gentlemen in fencing, deportment and taxi hailing (in a very Nazi manner, I must say. Not so much “Hail” as “Heil” in that action!)
His greatest resources are Algy (Algernon Wynche) and Percy (Mr. Percival), two upper class twits and thugs if ever I’ve see a brace. They leave behind them a fairly careless trail of corpses that lead Steed, Mrs. Peel and the industrious Olga to the school, and bring about their own undoing.
Of slightly less import is Hilda, who teaches fencing and manipulates the terrified Merryweather. Winters, too, has been pressured into facilitating their nefarious activities from his shop. Both these men are killed when they become expendable to the organisation.
Let’s get it straight from the beginning. Professor Stone and Dr. Penrose are not actually the villains here.
The real villains are their replicants, who have taken over the research facility at the Ministry of Trade’s Neoteric Research Unit (MOT-NRU).
They cause mayhem in the area every time Stone malfunctions, killing the unfortunate George Eccles and imprisoning the local doctor, Betty James.
Actually, this raises a flaw in the plot. Why were the non-robot staff at the NRU happily assisting the robots? I mean, even if they didn’t realise they were robots, why would they happily incarcerate the real Dr. James and replace her with her doppelganger? Are all the staff of NRU replicants? Answers on a postcard to the usual address!