The Decapod In Hindi 720p
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original title: The Decapod
keywords: president, bodyguard, balkan, assassin, wrestler, secretary, maskedkiller, jazzsinger, jazzclub, foreignleader
The president of a Balkan Republic is menaced by a masked assassin. Although Steed is sent to augment the visiting dignitary's security detail, his bodyguards are murdered one by one. *Some spoilers*
The only interesting point about this black-and-white episode of 'The Avengers' is that it offers one of the handful of appearances by singer-actress Julie Stevens as Venus Smith.
Nightclub performer Smith was one of a rotation of partners provided for debonair secret John Steed (Patrick Macnee) during the 1963 season. Given the role's limitations, 'partner' may be an overstatement.
First the good news: despite the primitive production values of these taped episodes, this one looks crisp and clear. Director Don Leaver does what he can to keep the action moving, and makes the necessary fakery seem palatable.
And although the audio quality on the A&E sets released in the US in often poor, coping with the originals' poor microphone placement and poor sound recording, it's generally adequate here. In particular, in the limited confines of a nightclub set, Stevens' vocal numbers come across quite well. She has a lovely voice. If the very mildly jazzy Brit pop is unmemorable, it's also inoffensive.
As always, Macnee does well by his partners. The Steed of this era is still a bit untrustworthy, a bad-boy secret agent despite his social polish. He manipulates Venus Smith into helping him penetrate the embassy of the 'Balkan Republic' after a young woman is found dead in an 'accident.' Of course, this is The Avengers, where people seldom die accidentally, or naturally.
The real villain is screenwriter Eric Paice, who makes Venus seem uncommonly dense. She goes to the embassy convinced that visiting leader Yakob Borb (Paul Stassino) is an impresario who will help her career. Instead, he eventually asks her to run off to Las Vegas with him.
Stevens is a glamorous blonde of the type preferred by Avengers producers. But while pretty, she's delicately built and her character is not sharp. Stevens has none of the physical skills possessed by Honor Blackman, the more formidable blonde playing alternative partner Cathy Gale. And Stevens is only a bit more curvaceous than boyish Diana Rigg, who eventually would become Steed's foil. In brawn or brains, Venus Smith doesn't seem like she'd ever be much help to Steedin a tight spot.
But there's not really much of a mystery to unravel here, and what plot there is remains primitive in style and substance. Hard-working Welsh actor Philip Madoc, for some reason frequently cast as an Eastern European, is the 'Balkan' ambassador. He does not trust Borb's Western playboy tendencies. One might think Borb would simply have the ambassador recalled, but not in the drought-stricken mind of Eric Paice.
Instead, there's a good deal of going-on about Borb, a not-at-all-disguised Tito, seeking 'bribes' from both East and West in order to maintain the Republic's neutrality, and devoting the money to his own use. The Brits were apparently still put out about their monarchist favorites losing out in Yugoslavia during World War II _ although there were fewer complaints when Tito's Partizans were providing them with midnight landing strips and covering fire.
Of course, Tito lived high on the hog compared to the average Yugoslav, with virtual palaces and fancy cars. But the handful of openly neutral countries in the Cold War _ aside from Switzerland _ had to be very careful indeed not to swallowed or turned into cannon fodder by the ravenous competing blocs.
Post 9/11, the mid-80s plot device of brave Afghan mujahedeen battling vicious Rooskies turns the otherwise entertaining James Bond movie 'The Living Daylights' into a cringe-fest. By so tying his underpopulated, underwritten script to similarly dated political claptrap, Paice makes this episode very thin gruel.
Wrestling provides Paice's other plot point here, but there are so few suspects that the identity of the murderous masked mauler is painfully obvious. Politics aside, wrestling looks insincere enough without subjecting it to the stylized fight scenes of mid-1960s television. The only amusing thing is how quickly Macnee gets out of the way during the ultimate sequence in the ring.
Series television is a difficult form, and even a show as generally inventive as 'The Avengers' stumbled occasionally. In 'The Decapod,' it stumbles badly. As this episode opens an attractive blonde gets out of the shower and, after a brief phone call, is attacked by a masked man. It turns out she is working for Yakob Borb the visiting leader of the 'Balkan Republic' so Steed is sent to find out what happened. It turns out that Borb has had threats against his life and is protected by two bodyguards; he also has a thing for blondes so Steed encourages his friend, singer Venus Smith, to go to the embassy; she thinks she it to be invited to tour the Balkans and Borb mistakes her for the replacement for the dead girl. Borb also has a thing for wrestling and has one of his bodyguards wrestle against a local man, the masked fighter known as 'The Decapod', who looks remarkable like the killer. The bout ends with the bodyguard dead and the Decapod fleeing the scene. Steed tracks down the Decapod but he claims he was not the man in the ring; if he wasn't the masked wrestler, who was? And is Borb in imminent danger?
This episode's opening murder had obvious elements of the surreal that the series would later be famous for but the story itself is more conventional. There is a good central mystery but I doubt many will be shocked when the killer is eventually unmasked. The biggest surprise, at least to this viewer who is less familiar with the pre-Peel era Avengers, is just how devious Steed is as he tricks Venus Smith into helping him and potentially puts her in danger with no warning. Patrick Macnee does his usual quality job as Steed and Julie Stevens impresses as Venus, it was refreshing to see Steed partnered with a woman who wasn't a martial arts expert; the danger to her felt more real. The rest of the cast were pretty solid too. The fact that 'The Balkan Republic' is obviously Yugoslavia and Borb is based on Tito may not be as obvious to modern viewers as it was to those in the sixties but it doesn't really detract from the story for modern viewers. Overall I rather enjoyed this episode.
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