I choose to believe that a couple of years after they made “The Long Goodbye,” the episode’s writer, Michael Pertwee, was talking with his brother, actor Jon Pertwee. The actor, then working in Doctor Who, mentioned that he’d like to have some kind of space-rocket car. Michael said “Well, there’s a funny thing, because I did this episode of The Persuaders!…”
Perhaps fortunately, the resulting car, which is known as both the Alien and the Whomobile, isn’t quite as ridiculous as this one, but it made its debut in a 1974 episode of that series and both are just lovably, wonderfully seventies in every way.
This car is driven around London by the Space Queen as part of a soap promotion, and Brett hijacks it. I picked this episode not merely for its car, but by its driver, the beautiful Valerie Leon. Nicola Pagett, Madeline Smith and Anouska Hempel are also in this story, along with familiar faces Peter Sallis and Glynn Edwards. It’s full of fine actors, good-natured silliness, and wonderful location filming all around London. It may not be the meatiest episode of the series, but it’s breezy and very entertaining.
I’ve always liked “The Interrogators” a lot. It’s just full of deliciously oddball gags used as punctuations for a strong and clever plot that could have been played straight in a more serious or poker-faced espionage show. The best of all of the gags comes when one of the clueless captives comes to the end of his interrogation when the colonel running the supposedly British Intelligence-approved course calls it a day and tells him that he’s passed. The dude tips his jailers. I’ve seen this many times, but I almost stopped breathing tonight.
Unfortunately, this is one of the episodes that our son didn’t enjoy much at all. Things improved toward the end, but he didn’t like how incredibly nasty and mean the villains were acting, even when they were played by familiar actors like Christopher Lee and Neil McCarthy. Glynn Edwards is also one of their gang, who are using bureaucracy, forged passes, and reams of paperwork to convince agents that they’re due for a random course in TOHE: Test of Human Endurance. This is one of those cases where the heroes are several steps behind the villains, and the combination of complexity and cruelty turned him off the adventure. Things only brightened when Steed hops into a waiting helicopter and tells the pilot “Follow that pigeon!”
Incidentally, I didn’t so much mention as strongly imply before, back when Patrick Newell’s character of Mother rejoined the show as a semi-regular character, that Steed and Tara really don’t need a boss figure except in those cases that specifically deal with their organization. This is one of the few that does. The story, by Richard Harris and Brian Clemens, wouldn’t work at all unless Tara was ordered by her superior to take this course. These are really good villains who’ve thought of everything, and fake his authorization. Mother’s base of the week is a flower-filled office accessible only by a pay phone, a little tip of the bowler to the American spy comedy Get Smart.