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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
On orders from One-Ten, John Steed goes undercover to infiltrate an
assassins' ring. In the process of doing so, Steed discovers that Venus
Smith (Julie Stevens), a contact of his (?), has a contract to perform
with a jazz trio at a speak easy owned by one of the suspected ring
leaders. He recruits her help.
This was the second episode with Venus Smith. When watched in production order, the entire Venus Smith run seems chaotic, but when watched in broadcast order, it shows that the producers planed the Smith episodes to provide a break for the audience sort of comedic relief territory. And a break was definitely needed after Bullseye and Mission To Montreal and right before The Mauritius Penny. It probably also served as a needed break for Patrick Macnee, who did many stunts in the beginning of the shooting season in the Dr. King episodes, and had to go through judo lessons and more stunts during the Cathy Gale ones. The Venus Smith episodes were virtually stunt free.
With that in mind, this was a much better entry than Venus' first, The Decapod, and had a more acceptable plot than an Arabian diplomat with a crush on an English lounge singer. I found it more salable that a band singer would accept a contract to sing at a club with a shady boss than be the intrigue in an international uprising because she was idk, blond? I am puzzled though as to what John Steed told Venus Smith that he does. It's obvious here and in several of her episodes that she has no idea that Steed is a spy. Performers have a well-known history of being spies for the west Josephine Baker basically saved France so why wouldn't he say? (Here, John says he's retiring; yet, he still doesn't give a job title that he needs to retire from.) But Smith's ignorance of Steed's job often leads her into danger, and causes John trouble himself. In this episode, Venus unknowingly blows Steed's cover.
Another issue with the Venus episodes is the development of Steed's character. He is a lot more roguish, and sometimes despicable. In other words, Macnee gets to act. Although not likable, Steed is more seen as a spy when he plays opposite Ms. Smith. Heck - he's in under cover mode all the time he is with her.
Since these episodes were more geared toward dialogue, one benefit of the Venus Smith shows with the exception of Decapod were the strong supporting characters. All had good lines and better character development than were given to Venus herself.
The Removal Men was written by Roger Marshall and Jeremy Scott. Roger Marshall has contributed many teleplays to British action series throughout a forty year career. Some strong characters here were the French activist Nicole Cauvin (Ediana Ronay), Bug Siegal (Edwin Richfield) whom I guess he modeled after the Las Vegas mobster Buggy Siegal and possibly the best One-Ten (Douglas Muir) character in the series. The best character development, though, is given to Cecile Dragna (Patricia Denys), the wife of the top gangster. She really hates the crime business, but she loves the money.
Even though this was shot in England, the teleplay hints that they are in a foreign market. Steed brings that up when he first meets Venus, and Venus reiterates it at the end of the show. Where they are, however, is unknown. It might be France. It might be Casablanca. (My clues might have been edited due to Cozi, however.)
"The Removal Men" was the second of the six episodes featuring Venus Smith (Julie Stevens), and a great improvement on the first. Steed goes undercover on the French Riviera to infiltrate a team of professional assassins whose latest target is a beautiful French starlet (Edina Ronay), whose demise figures to grant the outfit excellent publicity. One of the members, Bug Siegel (Edwin Richfield, the show's most frequent guest star, previously seen in "Girl on the Trapeze"), runs a nightclub where Venus Smith is singing, but her involvement proves to be disastrous for Steed, whose cover gets blown sky high (though her singing does provide the distraction needed to dispose of the ringleaders.) The Dave Lee Trio does one number without Venus, and she herself sings three songs, needless padding that detracts from the entry's effectiveness. While Venus wisely spends most of the episode on the sidelines, other women steal the show; sexy Patricia Denys plays Cecile Dragna, wife of gang leader Jack Dragna (Reed R. de Rouen, previously seen in "The Far-Distant Dead"), who is introduced in the nude as Steed rifles her husband's safe and locks her in the bathroom, yet winds up admiring her captor, effortlessly flirting with him throughout. 18 year old Edina Ronay, who later appeared in "The Nutshell," displays her ample curves in a very brief bikini, being hustled off the beach by One Ten (Douglas Muir), Steed's superior, making the fourth of his five appearances. George Roderick previously did "Crescent Moon," George Little later did "Man with Two Shadows," and Ivor Dean went on to do "Dead Man's Treasure" and "Super Secret Cypher Snatch." The next Venus Smith episode would be "Box of Tricks."
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