Friday, 18 September 2020

Spindoe


Gritty gangster series from 1968, which I watched mainly because it was technically a spin-off from The Fellows, which was in turn a sequel/spin-off from The Man in Room 17, making this a sort of spin-off squared (although the genre of this series is nothing like the telefantasy of its predecessors). The main interest to Blakes 7 fans for whom gritty gangster series aren't really their thing may be that the series' principal antagonist was played by Richard "Nebrox" Hurndall, who it turns out was quite a versatile character actor back in the 1960s, when he wasn't impersonating William Hartnell's Doctor like his career had reduced him to by 1981-83.


Alec Spindoe (Ray "A Very British Coup" McAnally) is a former gang boss who is just getting out of prison after five years to find his London gang and his wife have been taken over by his former henchmanny Eddie Edwards (Anthony "Lacon" Bate, and nothing to do with skiing so far as I can tell) and Spindoe sets out for revenge. Hurndall plays Mackelson, a rival gang boss who wants them to destroy each other so he can easily take over their territory.


Other notable characters (and their actors) include Scaliger, a private detective played by George Sewell not long before he would go on to be in UFO, and Renata, a woman who betrays Spindoe to Mackelson (or is it the other way round?) is played by Rachel "surprise Number 2" Herbert not long after she had been in The Prisoner.


It was pretty obvious to us cats from early on that Spindoe, who is very much an anti-hero and barely more likeable than his rivals Edwards and Mackelson, was going to come to a bad end, Get Carter-style (although this was made about three years before that film was), and so the main point of interest was how, not if. The last two parts (of six) really manage to ramp up the suspense as it builds towards the climax, and this meant that the series was an interesting and worthwhile viewing experience overall.


I don't know exactly how much sex, violence or bad language they were able to get away with showing on ITV in the late 1960s, but I suspect this was towards (and maybe even pushing at, especially in terms of violence) the extreme edge for the time, though it would seem tame by today's standards. The script contains plenty of wit, but don't go in expecting a barrel of laughs.

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Big Gay Longcat reviews Doctor Who: The Claws of Axos Episode Four


The point at which episode three should have ended.

The Doctor and Jo fight their way through every bit of SFX that Axos can throw at them (a lot) until they get out.

Axos tries to fight back by sending the power back to the laboratory. Sir George has to disconnect the cables as the Master explains to the Brigadier (and us) what is going on, in the absence of the Doctor who would normally do that if he were here. Sir George succeeds, but gets electriced and does a massive jumping stunt for no reason.

The Master tries to run away but the Doctor arrives just in time to help Filer capture him. He says
"The claws of Axos are already deeply embedded in the Earth's carcass."
Clang!

The Doctor tells Filer he "must have the Master's help" to defeat Axos.


This makes it three out of three for the number of stories the Doctor and Master have teamed up in since the Master's introduction. The exchange of dialogue they have together in the TARDIS, where none of the other characters can hear them, is so delicious it bears quoting in full:
"Well, Doctor, I'm still waiting to hear this marvellous scheme of yours."
"Actually, there isn't one."
"Well, then why..."
"Because if you mend the TARDIS, we can both escape."
"Both? Tell me, Doctor, are you suggesting an alliance?"
"Why not? I don't want to spend the rest of my life as a heap of dust on second rate planet to a third rate star. Do you?"
"Do you mean to say that you are actually prepared to abandon your beloved Earth to the Axon's tender mercies?"
"Certainly. After all, we are both Time Lords."
"Maybe. Look, why should I help you?"
"Because if you don't I shall hand you over to UNIT and you'll become a prisoner on a doomed planet."
"Yes, well, you'll be doomed along with me."
"Exactly. We either escape together, or we die together."
"Oh, very generous! But look, why not just hand me over to UNIT and make your escape by yourself?"
"Because the Time Lords have put a block on my knowledge of dematerialisation theory, that's why."
"Oh, I see."
"Yes, well, we haven't got much time. What's your decision?"
"Alright, I accept."


Axos rises out of the ground.


It sends some Axons to chase Yates and Benton in their jeep for a gratuitous action sequence, which ends with them blowing up their own jeep just for the lols.

Filer is suspicious of the Doctor's teaming up with the Master, and he quickly appears to be proved right when it seems as though the Doctor has betrayed them.


Quicker on the draw than Blake was, the Doctor shoots Filer's gun out of his hand using the Master's pewpewpew gun and says
"Goodbye, Brigadier, Mr Chin."
 If we didn't already know there was a character in this called Mr Chin, it would seem here as though the Doctor was calling the Brigadier "Mr Chin" lol.
"Goodbye, Bill. Goodbye, Jo. I shall miss you."
This latter goodbye is said in a very similar manner to how he said goodbye to Liz in the last part of Inferno - is this a hint that he will, like then, soon be coming back?

The Doctor and the Master leave in the TARDIS just as the Axons begin an attack on the laboratory. The TARDIS materialises in Axos, where the Doctor says he has a proposition for Axos:
"You may have conquered this tiny speck in space but you've yet to conquer time. We are prepared to give you this power on one condition - that we join forces against the High Council of the Time Lords."


The Master tries to leave in his own TARDIS, but he is blocked by an invisible barrier. Such is Roger Delgado's skill that he even looks cool doing this mime.

The Master is once again forced to help the Doctor, and as he is doing so he realises the Doctor's plan:
"You've got it set in a time loop!"
The Master flees to his own TARDIS (invisible barrier now gone) as the Doctor sets off his trap for Axos, saying
"Come on, come on! You must take the load! You must!"
Naughty Doctor, I can't believe this is a U-rated DVD!

The Axons break into the laboratory where the UNIT soldiers continue to shoot at them long past the point where it should be obvious even to Benton that bullets don't have any effect on them. They are saved when the Axos model dematerialises, and so do all the Axons attacking the laboratory.


Axos is caught in the Doctor's time loop trap, but says the Doctor is trapped there with it, and two Axons pin him down on the TARDIS console so that it looks like he's the one about to "take the load!" Lol, I am a naughty cat.

The Doctor manages to reach a switch and the TARDIS returns to the laboratory, just after it had been evacuated by all the other characters. The power complex blows up, but the Doctor manages to dematerialise the TARDIS in time (because it is indestructible only when it remembers to be), and then it rematerialises just outside the ruins.

The final scene is a komedy one, where the Doctor tries to explain what a time loop is to the Brigadier, and has to admit that the Master "could have got away" and that "the Time Lords have programmed the TARDIS always to return to Earth."
"It seems that I'm some kind of a galactic yo-yo!"
Well, there were only three TV channels in those days, the bar for komedy to clear was lower back then.


What's so good about The Claws of Axos?

Well, at the risk of sounding like a broken DVD, it's the Master again.

Terror of the Autons introduced him, and The Mind of Evil showed what he was capable of, but here he goes one step further and takes over the show from under the Doctor's nose. With the Doctor spending most of part three and the start of part four (altogether about a third of the whole story) as a prisoner of Axos, the Master fills the hole he leaves in the narrative - to the extent of acting as temporary scientific advisor to UNIT (or at least the Brigadier, which is more-or-less the same thing so far as the show is concerned) when he saves the power complex from being blown up and helps them fight back against Axos.

The Doctor then gets his own back when he appears to take the Master's role, when he pretends to abandon Earth to save himself. While the Doctor has pretended to join the baddys in plenty of stories that don't have the Master in them, it is made all the more effective here by his fooling the Master as well as his own friends. The second layer to the Doctor's deception that is then used to defeat Axos gives this story a satisfying resolution, for all that it had several missteps along the way.

Saturday, 5 September 2020

Big Gay Longcat reviews Doctor Who: The Claws of Axos Episode Three


The Axons knock out Bill Filer with a quick tentacle, and then capture the Doctor and Jo by hypno-eyesing them. Of course they first need to turn into their form that has eyes in order to do that.

The chief Axon tells the Doctor their evil plan to nom the world:
"Axonite is simply bait for human greed. Because of this greed, Axonite will soon spread across the entire planet and then the nutrition cycle will begin."
"Indeed, and what then?"
"Slowly we will consume every particle of energy, every last cell of living matter. Earth will be sucked dry."

The Brigadier now teams up with Captain Harker and they each get their mannys to search for the Doctor and Jo.

The Master has tricked the mannys into wanting Axonite all over the world, and the Minister orders Mr Chin to arrange it, which means that Civil Service bureaucracy is the one thing standing between the Earth and total destruction, and the only thing that can stop the Master's plan. It's almost like he doesn't want it to succeed!


The Master gets into the Nuton Power Complex laboratory in disguise, where he finds the Doctor's TARDIS has been put, and he goes into it.

The Axons force the Doctor to W-word for them by threatening to age Jo to death. They want the secrets of maths time travel from him, and find out that they need to steal all the power from the power complex to have enough power for it.


That's a lot of power! It's nearly one whole milli-Gunn Sar!

Filer warns the Brigadier of the danger of Axonite, but the Brigadier gets distracted by an Axon wandering around on location. Soldiers try to shoot it but they get blowed up or electriced by its tentacles.


It goes into the "Main Research Reactor" (thanks once again, convenient signpost).

The Master is still inside the Doctor's TARDIS, trying to fix it. He goes out to the laboratory and is spotted by the Brigadier, Yates and Benton, who capture him. The Axons have by now taken control of the reactor to get its power and the Master offers to team up with the Brigadier to stop them. He tells Sir George (the scientist who didn't get killed last episode) what he intends to do:
"I'd like you to give me a link from the TARDIS to the accelerator so that I can get straight through to the main reactor. Now what I propose to do is this - stack up as much power as the TARDIS will take, then channel it back through the accelerator and boost it, so that instead of the gradual power build-up that Axos expects, it'll get the whole lot in one devastating surge."
"Are you trying to tell me you can absorb the total output of this complex in a police box?"
"Yes."
The brilliance of the Master's one-word response to Sir George is all in the wonderful delivery from Roger Delgado, stealing the scene as usual.
The Brigadier asks
"What else can we do?"
and the Master trolls him by replying
"Oh, nothing very much. I suppose you can take the normal precautions against nuclear blast, like, er... sticky tape on the windows and that sort of thing."
Filer comes in and tries to capture the Master, and the Brigadier has to tell him not to, lol.

Inside Axos, the Doctor can only watch as the power builds up, and then it starts to decrease as the Master starts his plan. He realises Axos is distracted by this unexpected emergency and seizes his chance to escape, fighting off lots of random tentacles and rescuing Jo on his way out.

The Master knows that if he blows up Axos now, the Doctor and Jo will be inside it and "won't stand a chance." The Brigadier does a Big No, but the Master replies with
"Either we destroy Axos or Axos destroys the world. Which is it to be, Brigadier?"
and then throws the switch.

This would have been a purrfect moment to end the episode on, but it carries on just a few seconds too long, with a shot to show the Doctor and Jo struggling against some grabby tentacles and shakycam.

Friday, 4 September 2020

Big Gay Longcat reviews Doctor Who: The Claws of Axos Episode Two


The Doctor hears Jo scream so he and the Brigadier run to look for her, while Mr Chin and his scientist friends couldn't give less of a shit. The chief alien explains to Jo that what she thinks she saw and heard were hallucinations. The Doctor, despite his scepticism of the aliens and their explanations last time, buys this, and it is Jo's turn to make a sceptical face.

Bill Filer turns out to have a gun (of course, Gamma Longcat, I should have realised! That's why he's an American!) and the Master tells him which tentacle to shoot to allow them both to escape. They get recaptured by the aliens in the very next scene we see them in, making their escape attempt seem like pointless padding that would be unworthy of a six-parter, never mind a four-part story like this is.

Chin goes back to the UNIT base to telephone the Minister, who tells him 
"Just remember, it's your head on the block, Chin, not mine."
which only goes to show how prescient Doctor Who was in setting the UNIT stories in 'the near future' when the doctrine of ministerial responsibility would have been done away with.


After they have given samples of Axonite to Chin, the aliens say "begin re-absorption" and then they turn all blobby and derpy.

The Brigadier doesn't like Chin having the Axonite, so he pulls out his gun and takes over, but when they get back to their base he finds that other soldiers w-wording for Chin have captured the rest of UNIT. They are led by Captain Harker, played by Tim Pigott-Smith, whose poshness is such that he can outrank the Brigadier even though he is only a captain.


The aliens make a copy of Bill Filer in the most ostentatious, SFX-laden way the BBC could afford. Things have obviously moved on a lot since the days when the Daleks made a copy of the Doctor.

The Doctor is taken to the power complex to help the scientists find out what Axonite can do. There they have a cyclotron, which is reminiscent of Doctor Who and the Silurians. The Doctor is soon arguing with the scientists about the best way to analyse the Axonite.

The aliens send their fake Bill Filer to find the Doctor and bring him to them, as they know he is a Time Lord from when they gave him a headache. The real Bill Filer manages to escape surprisingly easily this time, without any help from the Master...


who he then sees talking to a giant eyeball, which seems to be in charge of the aliens. It lets the Master go, but keeps his TARDIS as a way of stopping him from double-crossing them.

When the Master leaves the spaceship, he does a cat-like stealthing up on a soldier, and then pewpewpews him when he gets noticed. Bill Filer also escapes out of the spaceship when the door is still open from letting the Master out.

The Doctor wants to use equipment from his TARDIS to analyse the Axonite, and the chief scientist Winser agrees only when his own equipment is unsuccessful. The Doctor says this is because "it's deliberately resisting analysis."


The Master gets involved in a much more exciting sub-plot when he does a stunt to jump on a truck, and then he hypno-eyeses the driver. How exactly he does this is a complete mystery to cat science - it is like he has the ability to be inside the wing mirror (from where he can see the driver) at the same time as he is still hanging off the side of the truck! This must be another one of those Time Lord abilities that we have not previously seen on-screen.

The Doctor's plot suddenly gets exciting too, when both Bill Filers come in and have a fight with each other (or at least with each other's stuntmanny) until the fake clumsily falls into the cyclotron and gets turned into bubbles.

Bill Filer is able to tell the Doctor what he found out about the aliens from the Master off-screen (presumably when they were both prisoners), and together they tell the Brigadier and Jo, but then they all get recaptured by Captain Harker.

The Master goes into the unit base and hypno-eyeses all the mannys he meets until he reaches one of them who can send a message for him.

When the Doctor is alone in the power complex laboratory, he decides to use the cyclotron on the Axonite like he's a character in a point-and-click computer game who has noticed that they are the only two clickable objects in the room. He decides to make a "recording of what not to do," which is a clever way of allowing him to speak the explanation to us even when there are no other characters present for him to talk to.

When they cyclotron reaches the speed of light it turns the Axonite into bubbles and gives all the aliens back at the spaceship headaches, so the Doctor gets his own back for what they did to him in part one.

The Brigadier, Filer and Jo escape. Filer and Jo go to the laboratory to find the Doctor. Winser also finds him and is not happy about the Doctor using the cyclotron, but when he tries to turn it off he gets electriced. This somehow prompts the Doctor to have a revelation about what is going on:
"Yes, of course! Axons! That ship, Axonite, it's all the same thing! Don't you see, we're dealing with one single living creature!"
Then some aliens come in and menace them, and once again Jo signals the cliffhanger by screaming.

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Big Gay Longcat reviews Doctor Who: The Claws of Axos Episode One

The Claws of Axos is the third story of season eight of Doctor Who, and was first broadcast in 1971. It stars Jon Pertwee as the Doctor, Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Katy Manning as Jo Grant, Richard Franklin as Captain Mike Yates, John Levene as Sergeant Benton, and Paul "Cevedic" Grist as Bill Filer.


Oh, and Roger Delgado returns as the Master for his third story in a row. I'm not sure it's even supposed to be a surprise appearance any more - he's just a regular character now, in the same way as Yates and Benton are.

It starts with mannys detecting something "heading straight for Earth," very like the start of Spearhead from Space in fact, except that the mannys mistaik this week's aliens for a comet instead of meteorites. We see a spaceship and some aliens, who would appear to be dancing like they're having a party.

Mr Chin is arguing with the Brigadier about who the Doctor is, he obviously hasn't moved on psychologically from when Patrick Troughton was the Doctor. The Brigadier obviously doesn't like Chin because he has his troll face on and is refusing to answer Chin's questions. The Doctor doesn't like Chin either and says
"England for the English? Good heavens, man!"
"I have a duty to my country!"
"Not to the world?"


It looks like the Doctor is about to (quite rightly) bust out his Venusian Karate on Mr Chin's chin but the tension is defused in the nick of time when Jo and Bill Filer arrive. So quickly do the other UNIT regulars accept his presence that Bill Filer has the appearance of being an established character crossing over from an American-based Doctor Who spin-off series that seems like it ought to exist yet somehow doesn't.

Mike Yates then arrives with news of the incoming UFO. There then follows a few scenes with lots of looking at radar monitors and telephoning other mannys who would be too expensive to show, intercut with brief scenes of a komedy yokel going about his business - we know he is there for komedy purposes because the incidental music tells us so.

Mr Chin, who obviously has delusions of being Ed Straker, orders the soldiers to shoot a missile at the UFO, but the UFO vanishes so that the missile misses, and the Doctor has to remind Chin "what goes up must come down again," prompting Chin to order the missile to blow itself up.


The UFO lands near the "Nuton Power Complex 1 mile" (thank you once again, convenient establishing shot). Mr Chin takes charge of all of the Brigadier's mannys, and his first action is to throw out the American - oh how times change, I find it difficult to imagine that sort of thing happening now, when the Mr Chins of today would be much more likely to be taking their orders straight from the Americans instead.

The komedy yokel is the first to find the UFO (now landed, so more like a ULO), and things get serious for him suddenly when the ULO opens up and tentacles him inside. Cthulhu assures me that, yes, that is the proper verb for what happens.

Bill Filer may have been thrown out, but he is determined to get involved in the plot anyway, so he drives to where the ULO is and starts to investigate it. But he also gets tentacled so that, by the time the rest of UNIT arrives, he is inside getting special effects used on him.

UNIT receives a message from the aliens:
"Axos calling Earth. Fuel systems exhausted. Request immediate assistance. Immediate assistance. Axos calling Earth. Axos calling Earth. Fuel system exhausted."
The Doctor, the Brigadier, Chin and a couple of scientists from the power complex go inside the ULO without needing to be tentacled, and inside they find themselves in a studio.

Benton finds the ded body of the komedy yokel (not so komedy in the end) and tells Yates and Jo. Yates goes to investigate with Benton, so that Jo can go off on her own, splitting the party three ways (or four, if you count Bill Filer). Fortunately Jo heads straight for the ULO and follows the group that already went inside, which keeps things simpler than they otherwise could have been - and probably would have been, if this wasn't a four-parter and needing to get on with things.

The Doctor has a headache brought on by a wobbly camera special effect, but it stops after a bit and the Doctor rubs his neck to make it better.

Bill Filer wakes up from some sleeps to find he is a prisoner. He is surprised when he hears from the music that his fellow prisoner is...


The Master! Thank goodness, we went for almost a whole episode without Roger Delgado being in it. This adds an extra layer of mystery to the story - why is he here and why is he a prisoner? And, while we're at it, who is Number One?


The Doctor's group meets some aliens who are here to deliver a massive dump of exposition:
"Our worlds are uncountable light years away on the far rim of the galaxy. Our planetary system has been crippled by extreme solar flare activity. Axos is all that remains of our culture. As you can see, our science, unlike yours, has taken an organic path. This ship was not built for our journey, it was grown."
"What?"
"Yes, grown from a single cell, and now its nutrient is all but exhausted. We would like to stay until our nutrition and energy cycles have been fully replenished. In return, according to your custom, we offer a gift, a payment - Axonite."

The Doctor is sceptical of their explanations because he does not think the science adds up, while the mannys, even the scientists, are greedy to get their paws on the gift, especially after the chief alien makes a froggy grow big with his pewpewpew device... and a little help from the ever-present CSO, which is, shall we say, the chameleon of the SFX.

Chin says
"We must have it!"
which is probably exactly what Barry Letts said when he first saw CSO demonstrated.

Jo hears Bill Filer calling for help and goes to look for him, but instead she sees an alien appear in front of her - not of the sort that had just been talking to the Doctor's group, but one of those we saw briefly at the start of the episode. Jo screams to let us know that this moment is scary enough to qualify for the cliffhanger.

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Miss Marple


This BBC TV series, made between 1984 and 1992 and starring Joan Hickson as the titular sleuth, started as a choppily-paced, unevenly directed, middle-of-the-road Sunday-night TV series (whether it was actually shown on Sunday nights or not, I don't know, but it feels like it should have been) before developing into a much more polished production with the final few episodes shown as feature-length episodes that went out on Christmas Day.

The turning point was probably the 1986 Christmas special (the first such one they did), The Murder at the Vicarage, which featured Paul "immaculate, I'd say" Eddington (then at the height of his powers, in between seasons 1 and 2 of Yes Prime Minister) as the vicar, which was just a noticeable step of quality above what had come before.

Unlike the later ITV adaptations, which revelled in their stunt-casting, this features well-chosen character actors (mostly of the "it's thingy... you know, from that thing!" variety) in most of the supporting parts. An only-just-post-Doctor Who Peter Davison turns up in one of the middle stories - that's the sort of level we're dealing with. Donald Pleasance was probably the biggest name guest-star, and he makes the unusual choice of playing his part with an Alan Sugar-esque Cockney accent - but as he was playing a self-made millionaire in a story made in 1989, this may even have been a deliberate reference.

Probably the most fun thing about the series was the sense of continuity in the recurring characters, most obviously Inspector Slack (played by David Horovitch), the head investigating policeman in several of the cases - each time he gets increasingly annoyed by Miss Marple's interference in 'his' case, to the point where it became as much fun anticipating his reaction upon first seeing her as it is anticipating Columbo's arrival in a typical episode of that series. In the penultimate episode he even undergoes some character development, as he finally learns to accept and then respect her help.

The final episode, The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side, is something of a grand finale, bringing back multiple characters from earlier episodes (including Slack) like a parade of greatest hits. It even subverts its twee reputation with the last line being, quite literally, "More tea vicar?"

Monday, 31 August 2020

Big Gay Longcat and Expensive Luxury Cat review James Bond: From Russia With Love

The second expensive luxury James Bond film, made in 1963, introduces the most important character in the whole series, so Expensive Luxury Cat and I thought it would be worth looking at it next.

There is a pre-titles sequence where James Bond gets killed - well, that was a short film. Oh no, it was actually a different manny wearing a Sean Connery mask, predating the likes of Rollin Hand or the Master's use of masks by several years, as well as explaining why neither of them ever tried disguising themselves as Sean Connery - it isn't as if his voice is hard to impersonate, but they didn't want to get themselves strangled by SECTRE agents by mistaik!

Now obviously this means that James Bond doesn't really appear in his own pre-titles sequence. But it does introduce us to the baddy Donald Grant and quickly establishes how dangerous he is - if he can kill a manny disguised as Bond, then maybe he can kill the real Bond too!

The first scene after the title sequence introduces us to Kronsteen (Vladek Sheybal), who must be clever because he is good at chess. He is also the Number Five member of SECTRE, which we see when he goes to meet the most important character in the film - SECTRE's Number One, a.k.a. Blofeld's expensive luxury cat.


Kronsteen explains his masterplan to us and then Number One tucks in to some fishy noms.


Expensive and luxury fishy noms, no less. You can already see why this film series became a worldwide phenomenon, especially in the early 1960s when such glamorous escapism would have been beyond the reach of most cats.

We then see the early stages of the plan play out from SECTRE's point of view without Bond appearing for quite some time. When he does he is obviously in the middle of some typical Bond naughtiness, which gets interrupted by his being called in for his mission.


After the briefing from M (which goes exactly as Kronsteen predicted it would) we are introduced to a character almost as important and iconic as Number One, although sadly he is not a cat. This is Q, played by Desmond Llewelyn, and he gives Bond his gadget for this mission - the briefcase with lots of hidden extras.


Clang!

The action properly begins in Turkey where there are three factions - the Turks who are friendly to Bond, plus two sets of baddys - the Russians and, of course, SECTRE.

Kerim Bey quickly becomes Bond's friend, and he is a great character who walks the line between not taking things seriously and taking them exactly seriously enough. This is demonstrated in the bit where the Russians make an attempt to blow him up and he is joking with Bond about it by the next scene.

The scene where Kerim Bey takes Bond to see the "gypsies" and witness two of them fighting is one of the more iconic scenes from this film, despite being not exactly politically correct. But then, this film was made well over 50 years ago so we can't exactly judge it by today's standards while at the same time acknowledging that it wouldn't and shouldn't be made that way today.
For example, the fight is of a type commonly known to old-fashioned mannys as a 'cat-fight' even though they are mannys involved, not cats. A real cat fight usually goes more like this:
"Blake is the second-best character in Blakes 7."
"You're wrong, Tarrant is obviously the second-best character in Blakes 7."
"Mew!"
"Mew!"

When Bond gets back to his hotel there are a number of noises made before he pays proper attention, which is most unlike him - he must have read the script and know what is coming next.


Tatiana Romanova slips into his bed and steals his sleeps. Bond wants to get on with the mission straight away and he starts asking her questions about the Russian decoding machine, the "Lektor," that she's supposed to be giving him. This is also unlike him - later versions of James Bond would be more interested in giving her one.

Lol.

There are a large number of shots with the Hagia Sophia in the background, it must be the Turkish equivalent of the Eiffel Tower. But the next bit is actually set there as Bond and Tatiana do spy stuff along with Grant - who Bond still doesn't know about - who kills a Russian so Bond doesn't have to.

The middle of the film is perfectly paced, with every scene advancing the plot via a mixture of action and intrigue, and even a short komedy interlude with M and Miss Moneypenny back in London.

The main set-piece takes place on the train, when Bond leaves Istanbul along with Tatiana and Kerim Bey. Also aboard are a Russian agent and Grant. Grant shows up regularly in the background to remind us of his presence, but he still doesn't interact with Bond directly. He even kills Kerim Bey and the Russian without Bond finding out, by making it look as though they killed each other.

The train conductor who tells bond of Kerim Bey's death is played by George Pastell from Tomb of the Cybermannys - a small part but he is very recognisable due to his distinctive voice.

Bond now knows their plan is going wrong, but he does not yet realise that every move he makes has been anticipated by Kronsteen and has been observed by Grant. Grant eventually makes his move when he kills a manny Bond is expecting to meet and takes his place, calling himself "Captain Nash."

He pretends to be Bond's new friend (although he does keep trolling Bond by calling him "old man," which Bond doesn't like), and they even go to the restaurant car together, where "Nash" orders red wine with his fishy noms so that Bond can't swap their glasses after he drugs Tatiana's white wine - now that's what I call thinking ahead.

Bond sees Grant drug her, but Grant is actually able to talk Bond into trusting him again long enough to stun him with the old single-blow-to-the-back-of-the-head move.
"Red wine with fish... now that should have told me shomething."


This is essentially the dramatic climax of the film, as Bond and Grant confront each other with Bond at Grant's mercy. Bond realises Grant w-words for SECTRE, and gets him to spill the entire plan. Grant threatens to kill Bond slowly and painfully by shooting him multiple times, although the plan requires him to make it look like suicide so I'm not sure how he expects to manage that, mew.

Anyway, Bond tricks Grant into opening the gadget briefcase which explodes in his face, stunning Grant so that Bond can start a proper fight with him. Grant tries to kill Bond in the same way as he killed fake-Bond in the pre-titles sequence, but again the gadget briefcase saves him when Bond gets the hidden knife and stabs Grant until he goes

Bond makes sure to call Grant "old man" after he does so.

Bond and Tatiana escape from the train and get chased by a helicopter in a scene that owes quite a lot to North by Northwest (1959) when Bond tries running away for a bit. He shoots the manny in the helicopter just as he was about to drop a grenade, and this blows up the whole helicopter - in lesser films he would probably only have needed to shoot the helicopter to make it blow up.


Another iconic scene follows as the film cuts back to Number One, Klebb (SECTRE Number Three), and Kronsteen, as Number One tells them that
"We do not tolerate failure."
and then has Kronsteen killed, by means of his henchmanny's famous poisoned shoe.

The final scene of the plot then sees Klebb act directly, as she tries to steal the Lektor and kill Bond with her own poisoned shoe, and is only stopped because of Tatiana, who finally proves whose side she is on when she first distracts and then shoots Klebb. Bond's main contribution here is to quip
"She's had her kicks."

Expensive Luxury Cat's rating: Very Expensive and Very Luxury