Two undercover agents are shot at Q.Q.F. Incorporated but one survives long enough to clue in Steed and Peel. So, Steed visits the Quite Quite Fantastic office (where fantasies are made to ... See full summary »
Two undercover agents are shot at Q.Q.F. Incorporated but one survives long enough to clue in Steed and Peel. So, Steed visits the Quite Quite Fantastic office (where fantasies are made to come true) while Emma looks into B. Bumble's honey shop. They soon surmise that someone is aiming for Prince Ali of Barabia, who is visiting London with his harem of 320 wives. Written by
The TV Archaeologist
Many old-school fans of the 1960s British spy spoof 'The Avengers' rate 'Honey for the Prince' as one of the top episodes. For a modern viewer coming to it for the first time, your enjoyment may depend on what sort of mood you're in. If you like your action lite, enjoy high camp and non sequitors, and can put up with some less than sterling production values, this may be your cup of herb tea. Those looking for dramatic adventure, convincing martial arts or even color television may be put off.
Centered around maneuvers for oil concessions, this episode does have some continued timeliness. The UK has apparently outdone an unnamed rival power to become the patron of fictitious Barabia, and the crown prince has come to London to sign the deal. But something is awry: there's a shootout, a wounded British agent stumbles into the apartment of John Steed and dies saying something about 'Honey.'
A well-tailored bon vivant who happens to be a top spy/counterspy, Patrick Macnee's Steed is the heart of this series and a wonderful character. He's partnered in this era by whippet thin Diana Rigg as Mrs. Emma Peel. Rigg had succeeded buxom blonde Honor Blackman, who was television's first leather-clad, judo-chopping dominatrix. That may seem par for the course, after Xena, Buffy and Sydney Bristow, but those shows came years later. When Blackman burst on the scene, most actresses in action shows were reduced to falling and cowering, not fighting and outwitting. Unlike Blackman, Rigg didn't learn judo for the part, but she did have a Shakespearean background and an athletic build.
This episode fully captures the outstanding chemistry between Macnee and Rigg, and the fond partnership _ no sex please, we're British _ of Steed and Mrs. Peel. It also showcases a fine supporting cast playing a variety of British eccentrics, as well as some vaguely Middle Eastern ones.
Here, it's you call. Some viewers enjoy the fact that Ken Parry as honeymaker B. Bumble looks exactly like one of his little charges. Others think he and writer Brian Clemens lay the camp on a bit thick. Similarly, lots of folks find Ron Moody and his Ponsonby-Hopkirk a great entrepreneur, and a fine trailblazer for generations of television fantasists thereafter. Others seem to think the arranged fantasias of his company, Quite, Quite Fantastic, are stagy but not funny.
Macnee's many fans get to see their hero in his usual posh wardrobe and attitude as well as his slightly mussed following fight scenes. Macnee has some nice by-play with Zia Mohyeddin as Anglophile Prince Ali, as well as with George Pastell as a villain who enjoys the good life as much as Steed does. But unfortunately for a spy show, Macnee is more actor than fighter. He is so obviously doubled by a stuntman during most of the action sequences that one wonders why director James Hill even bothered to include the occasional cutaway close-up of Macnee.
Similarly, those with feminist inclinations may be irked by Prince Ali's casual disdain toward his harem of scantily clad wives. Some of this is played as satire, but in a sign of the era, Clemens cannot avoid adding a mother-in-law joke.
Although supposedly smarter and just about as tough as Steed, Mrs. Peel frequently wound up under-dressed, and that's certainly true in this case. The results are mixed. The editors of TV Guide in the US regularly choose Emma as their sexiest television female. That may be due more to childhood memories than physique, as under-endowed Diana Rigg is hardly a typical femme fatale. Struggling to fill out a tiny bustier but bursting out of gauzy hip-huggers, Rigg is almost a dead ringer for Debra Messing. Again, it's your call: if you prefer tall, flat redheads, Rigg is definitely your dame; otherwise, you may want to look elsewhere.
In compensation, despite an obvious lack of training Rigg throws herself into a dance of the veils and a prolonged fight with scimitars. While the action is fake, the energy is real. Props are due to the actress and Roland Curram as a murderous henchman for their exuberance, which can seem sexy enough.
In the end, the plot ties together nicely, and with the same good-humored mix of reality, unreality and really unreal reality that we've seen throughout the show. Fans will enjoy a trip down memory lane, and those younger viewers with a taste for the offbeat should check this out. Unlike many period pieces, this still has some juice.
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