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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'The Rotters' was the only 'Avengers' episode to be written by Dave
Freeman, a comedy writer who worked with Benny Hill, penned two of the
'Carry On' series and sitcoms such as 'Terry & June' and 'Bless This
House'. Members of The Institute Of Timber Technology are murdered by a
pair of brown suited assassins in flat caps from 'WormDoom Ltd.', named
'George' ( Jerome Willis ) and 'Kenneth' ( Gerald Sim - later to play
the 'Rector' in 'To The Manor Born' ). They have at their disposal a
spray gun loaded with a chemical able to destroy wood in seconds, and
plan to unleash its spores from fake pillar boxes all over England
unless their demands are met.
It is a cheeky little caper, full of the wit and charm one would expect of the series. Each time the spray is used, there is a noise like a thunderclap and - hey presto - no wood! 'George' and 'Kenneth' are a wonderful pair of killers - dreadful snobs and proud of it. When Kenneth callously shoots a butler, he sighs: "I do so hate the working classes!". There is an amusing scene at a country cottage when Steed cleverly traps the killers by waffling on about 'Edwin's' musical prowess - he had none!
Watch out for British comedy regular Eric Barker as 'Pym', a batty wood decay specialist who Steed tracks down ( appropriately ) in a belfry! Like all the Thorson episodes, 'The Rotters' is rattling good fun. Incidentally, the 1998 film paid sly homage to 'Tara' with Keeley Hawes' 'Tamara', the receptionist at Wonderland Weather. She even had her hair done the same style.
Directed by Robert Fuest, formerly a designer on the show.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Steed and Tara are called in when a member of the Institute of Timber
Technology is killed; while his actual death is routine there is
something odd about the case; it looks as though the killers stole the
doors to his office. Later the killers go to his house looking for an
old photograph of members of the institute but they are interrupted by
Tara and drop the picture. Steed and Tara set about meeting other
people in the picture but most of them end up dead soon afterwards. It
isn't long before only two of them are left; one who is in Africa and a
shady antiques dealer. The investigation reveals that far from stealing
the doors the killers had used an incredibly fast acting form of dry
rot to disintegrate them, what is more the man behind the plot intends
to spread the dry rot around the world destroying everything made of
This is a rather fun episode; the two killers, from WormDoom Ltd are delightfully despicable; I loved how they discussed there disgust for the working classes after killing some poor chap; Gerald Sim and Jerome Willis were pretty good in these roles. The identity of the mastermind is nicely hidden; I was certainly taken by surprise when it was revealed. The idea of fast acting dry rot was interesting although the effect of having wooden items instantly vanish when affected was rather weak to say the least it was best when it happened to a wooden belfry and a grand piano as we heard rather than saw what happened. As one would expect there is a good mix of action and humour; I liked Mother's inflatable office which required the silent Rhonda to keep pumping to keep it inflated! Overall a fun episode.
"The Rotters" is predictable but fun, uniting series veterans Gerald Sim ("The Radioactive Man," "Mission to Montreal," "The Wringer," "Dial a Deadly Number") and Jerome Willis ("Intercrime" and "How to Succeed....at Murder") as a pair of gentlemanly assassins who despise the working class because they're "so working class." Representing the firm Wormdoom, they bump off the members of the Institute of Timber Technology, using a special spray concocted with spores that dissolve wood on contact (a story that recalls the best of Emma Peel). Directed with panache by Robert Fuest, also featuring John Nettleton ("The See-Through Man"), Harold Innocent ("The Medicine Men"), Toni Gilpin ("Death on the Rocks"), John Stone ("The Secrets Broker" and "The Joker"), Charles Morgan ("Brought to Book"), and Noel Davis ("A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Station").
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