Thursday, 27 February 2014

W Is For Wyngarde


‘Epic’ is in many ways an atypical ‘Avengers’ episode: Steed isn’t in it much, and it has a small cast, rather than the usual cavalcade of familiar faces in small roles. If pushed to illustrate the freewheeling surrealism and gently experimental feel of the best of the programme, however, I would cite this episode as a perfect example. Full of striking visuals and with its tongue firmly in its cheek, it also gives a plum role for the genius of Peter Wyngarde to take flight.

The story is fairly negligible, but, for what it’s worth, Emma is kidnapped by a film director called Z.Z vom Schnerck who wants her to star in his magnum opus ‘The Destruction Of Emma Peel’. The film also stars two drunken, washed-up actors called Stewart Kirby (Wyngarde) and Damita Syn, who are more than willing to help von Shnerck abduct and murder if it revives their long dormant careers. Emma is not initially informed that she is in the film or, indeed, that the production will climax with her actual death onscreen.

Structurally and visually, the episode sometimes seems a precursor for both ‘The Girl Who Was Death’ and the UFO episode ‘Timelash’, both excellent episodes of sometimes variable shows. The studio setting gives plenty of scope to the production, not least the opportunity to parody a number of genres and stock characters.

Wyngarde is called upon to play, amongst others, a gunslinger, a 'red indian', Alexander the Great, a gangster and a machine gun toting German in a spiked helmet (another image prefiguring ‘The Girl Who Was Death’) , all of which are an absolute hoot (a thick slice of ham is part of the characterisation, of course – this is Peter Wyngarde doing Stewart Kirby doing the parts). We get to see Wyngarde’s superb facility for getting beaten up and pulling amusing faces, as well as hearing him do a variety of accents. He even gets to play the Dane, reciting the ‘To Be Or Not To Be’ soliloquy from the play that must not be named because it’s unlucky or something.

He’s brilliant, and terribly funny. I love him very much. Do you hear me, Peter, I LOVE YOU!

1 comment:

  1. Have never ever seen this episode....but now I have to see it. So best I go track it down. All looks rather good.