Time hasn’t been kind to “Killer.” Technology has advanced so much that the episode sticks out as nowhere near as timeless as most of The Avengers. Still, it remains a mostly very entertaining episode with a couple of caveats, and it’s clever enough to make me wish that I could have seen it in 1968, before we all knew that you can’t make an evil supercomputer self-destruct the way that TV kept showing us!
Here’s what I dislike the most: Steed’s fellow agents are idiots. Four of them get killed by the mysterious foreign agent Remak, who turns out to be an entire factory programmed to murder anybody who wanders down its corridors. But these agents are so stupid and so gullible that the villains could have found a much easier way than this. It’s no wonder Steed is the top secret agent in Britain if these are his co-workers.
On the other hand, these villains are great. I really enjoy situations where the bad guys have to change direction and improvise. As Steed and his partner, Forbes, get closer, and as they get a surprise visit from a blackmailer who’s onto them, the villains have to change their plans on the fly, and it’s incredibly engaging. Forbes, an agent recently transferred into Steed’s unit from another department, is played by Jennifer Croxton. She’s here because the episode was made while Linda Thorson had a week off, and I quite like her. She provides a nice change of pace. Maybe they could have given Thorson one more week off so we could have had a second Forbes adventure later in the season!
Anyway, while the mystery of Remak would certainly not tax any adult brain in this day and age, “Killer” remains a perfect puzzle for kids. Our son had no idea who Remak could possibly be to arrange all these bizarre killings, and it was a silly reminder of both the last episode of MacGyver we watched, as well as Raiders of the Lost Ark, to see Steed navigate Remak’s corridors of traps. The final revelation was a big surprise to him, and he was really excited by Forbes programming Remak to explode.
Well, “programming” is a bit strong. She just types the command and it obeys. TV writers in this era just had no idea how computers worked, did they?
Another oddball coincidence for anybody who’s counting: in the last episode of The Avengers, Mother has an office full of trendy inflatable furniture. I asked our son, “Do you remember in ‘Terror of the Autons’ how there was that inflatable chair that ate that guy?” And he nodded and said “Yeah!” Well, you know who plays one of the villains this time? Only Harry Towb, the guy who got eaten by that inflatable chair! 186 credits on IMDB, and he’ll always be the guy who got smothered by a black plastic chair to me.