The Avengers 4.18 – The Thirteenth Hole

Time and technology has dated many of the highwire villainous plots on The Avengers, but this one’s in a class by itself. I wonder how this must have felt in 1966. It hinges on using a satellite with a Russian-sounding name being overhead at precisely a certain time so that a traitor can broadcast a television signal to some enemy agents and technicians at some distant location. If turncoat scientists want to do this today, they probably just use Facetime. It must make intelligence work so much more difficult.

This scientist, played by Peter Jones, is under surveillance, and so the whole setup, studio and all, is moved to a golf course where he can slip away without being noticed. This is in part because – and I can’t help but think this was a big error on the producers’ part – there are absolutely no extras in the roles of all the golf club’s many members on a tournament weekend! This really does feel like one of the cheapies of the season. They did some location work at a real course, but also lots of mockups and rear-screen projection in the studio.

Grandiose and silly plots are part of the magic of The Avengers. Even though this looks and feels like writer Tony Williamson was told “we have the use of a golf course for two days, write something with six or seven speaking parts,” there’s enough fun and frivolity as Mrs. Peel helps Steed cheat a cheater, and wins a very entertaining fight with a character played by Francis Matthews, to make sure you overlook just how goofy this scheme is.

Our son was unfortunately completely lost, but he really enjoyed the bits that he could follow. He loved the fights and the escalating cheating on the course, and he’s having such a ball with the fourth season shtick of our heroes riding away on a different vehicle every week that he said “I bet I know what they’re riding on,” and was pleased as could be when we saw that they were drinking champagne on the three-wheeled golf cart that we’d seen earlier.

Also, he couldn’t place Francis Matthews’ voice, and I’m not sure that my “hint” helped him very much. I told him that he’d heard that actor many times but never seen him, before telling him that he was the voice of Captain Scarlet. In another weird coincidence, my wife and I have been watching the third season of The Saint, and Ed Bishop, who would voice Captain Blue, was in the last two episodes that we watched, back-to-back, playing different characters. I had to wonder whether anybody in November of ’64 complained “Hey! That actor was in the show just last week!”

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