The Avengers 4.25 – How to Succeed…. at Murder

Our son was a little taken aback when the peculiar Henrietta, a villain who’s leading a sexual revolution in the business world, is revealed. “Hey, she’s a nutcracking machine! This is weird. Weird weird!”

This is an entertaining episode, but it’s really dated. Not offensively so, certainly not as bad as the later Batman episode that skewered the new feminism of the sixties, but there’s still something a little bit meatheaded about a story that posits that the only real way that women can make it in the business world is by developing an inscrutable filing system, killing their immediate boss, and left to run the place because nobody else can figure out how. A ventriloquist doll is in charge of the gang.

There’s also a crushing inevitability about the revelation of the meek ventriloquist needing a doll to take charge of things. In fairness, it’s possible this might not have been quite so obvious in 1966, despite a couple of Twilight Zone installments that predate this, but certainly the constant reuse of this trope in TV, movies, and comics since 1966 made this one thunderously obvious.

It’s entertaining, but it would have been even better in 1966 than today, so it’s probably better to focus on everything else in the episode, especially Christopher Benjamin’s hilarious appearance as J.J. Hooter, a perfumier who can identify any fragrance, but only after rigorous preparation for his nose. There are also fine performances by familiar faces Sarah Lawson, Angela Browne, and Jerome Willis.

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