The Diabolical Masterminds of Series 5 (1967–8)
Z. Z. von Schnerk is barking mad. No two ways about it. So two are his captive actors, Stewart Kirby and Damita Syn. No doubt they have been driven mad by the realisation that their contracts with Schnerk are water-tight and they’ll never work for anyone else in their lives.
"I should have strangled my agent." Indeed.
Their great plan - and let’s be honest, it’s Kirby and Syn, not Schnerk, who initial concoct it - is to capture Mrs. Peel and make a film of her death. Do snuff films exist? I’ve yet to see any proof one way or the other, but I suppose it’s possible. Anyway, that’s not really the plot. The plot is about the emotional terrorism of a woman - Mrs. Peel. Schnerk’s screenplay is twisted and bizarre, but it was Kirby and Syn who suggested who the lead should be. Perhaps their villainy runs deeper. Did Schnerk plan to make a snuff film, without any concept of who the lead should be? But why then kill the Steed lookalike before deciding Mrs. Peel was right for the part?
These and other plot flaws may never be revealed...
Jessel is a double-dealing villain. He has, so he claims, bred an army of super warriors, capable of defeating even the most expert fighters in the world with ease. As a demonstration, he has two of his number - a man, then a woman - fight Kanwitch’s chosen champion, the burly Toy Sung. Sung is not quite a match for the man, then is callously skewered by the woman.
But Kanwitch wants a better test, and they then assemble seven of the finest warriors in Britain by means of deception. They fly them to a remote island in the Atlantic and one of their number is revealed to be the killer of them all, in time. With the seven unsure of who their dispatcher may be, they trust no-one and the killer - Jason Wade - moves freely about the island, killing them one by one.
Did I say Jessel was a double dealer? Because he is - literally. There are in fact two Jason Wades who are thus able to kill people all over the island while having apparent alibis. Kanwitch tumbles to the fact, and Jessel kills him, but is then subdued by Hana Wilde and knocked out by Steed.
Anarchic proto-punks bent on killing the Prime Minister and his entourage? Foreign agents plotting the downfall of the British government? Their motivations are never really properly explained, but this league of silent exploders uses British Rail (as it was then) to their own ends - stealing confidential files by means of microdots on rail tickets, and murdering government and Ministry agents, fooling them into getting off at disused stations along the main line, then killing them in cold blood.
The ticket collector is the mastermind, and he’s converted a caboose into a mobile operations centre - like Churchill’s war room - from here, he can explode the Prime Minister’s train remotely, but he didn’t count on the appearance of Emma and Steed.
The villainous Mr. Goat -
Steed : “I’m looking for a Nanny...”
Mr. Goat “Goat!”
- has devised a means of extracting sensitive defence secrets from Britain’s top brass. He has discovered that they all had the same nanny, Nanny Roberts, when they were children. Furthermore, he has developed a variant of LSD which results in infantile regression if taken. It can be absorbed through the skin, and so he sets in train a bizarre sequence of events involving brightly coloured rubber balls coated in the substance, taking these middle-aged men back to the nursery. Dressed as Nanny Roberts, Goat is able to get them to tell him anything he wants.
The young thug Gordon drives the disguised Goat around in the Mini van, runs around with guns trying to shoot Steed and Mrs. Peel, as well as trying to run her over and blow him up! A nasty piece of work.
Miss Lister run the school - and Gordon - with an iron fist as well as occasionally driving the Mini van. She’s Goat’s equal in this infamy.
The gang ruthlessly use the frail old Nanny Roberts as a cover for their operations.
Max Prendergast was imprisoned in Berlin sometime around 1963 for crimes against humanity, involving human traffic. He was captured because he fell for the very feminine wiles of Mrs. Peel, who kept him enchanted (and lusting) until the police arrived. Here he returns to wreak his dreadful revenge upon both her and Steed - Steed he hopes to kill off with a poisoned razor blade, but Mrs. Peel he wants to first torment, to drive her mad before killing her slowly and painfully.
Max is certifiably insane, unremittingly cruel and single of purpose. He engages the assistance of his new lover, the similarly unbalanced Ola, who poses as the housekeeper and contributed to Mrs. Peel’s discomfiture.
He also hires an actor to play a strange young man, his purpose, to shatter Mrs. Peel’s composure and sense of safety. That done, he becomes expendable and Max kills him in cold blood (while making sure Mrs. Peel can hear his death scream).
A nastier piece of work never trod the boards of an Avengers set.