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Kangaroo hunting

Three young men go scuba diving in a lake in the Austrian Alps, and are elated to discover something that they've clearly been looking for for some time. Returning to their startlingly small tent, however, they are promptly machine-gunned to death - and by Donald Houston of all people. Quite frankly I expect better behaviour from somebody so distinguished; although admittedly he did try to drown baby Harry Hamlin in Ancient Greece, so maybe it's not so great a surprise. Such murderous tendencies aside, you've got to like the guy. After he's finished blasting away at his three victims, he turns to a minion, and cheerfully tells him to make sure that it doesn't look like an accident.

Not much chance of that, Donald. Not unless they fell down some stairs in a spectacularly inventive fashion. :D

Back In Geneva, Tremayne isn't happy about the idea of Nemesis investigating the murders. He thinks it's all something of nothing, but the Champions, who are all suddenly experts in the dying days of the Third Reich, speculate that the boys might have found gold bullion in the lake. Tremayne isn't convinced, as he feels it more likely that retreating soldiers would have wanted weapons, not gold. Nonetheless, he's been asked for his help, so the Champions will have to go - with far more enthusiasm than he has in sending them. In the Alps, they go to stay in a small boarding house, which in a typical TV coincidence, is run by Donald Houston's minion. His eyes pop out of his head with horror when he sees that the gang have brought diving gear with them, but he recovers enough to bring them some coffee and brandy. Craig and Richard then go off to see what they can find in the lake, whilst Sharron decamps to speak to the local mayor, and try to find out something of the history of the area, and especially the retreat of Nazi troops at the end of the war.


Donald Houston murders some students. His friend is either deeply horrified, or just really hates the sound of the gun.


Tremayne discusses the case with the gang. Wonder of wonders, Sharron has managed to wear a reasonable colour. This is particularly welcome, since this week's little opening scene was clearly filmed at the same time as "The Night People", in the King's Head Inn set, with that yellow coat.

My poor, poor eyes.


In the Alps, the trio order coffee and brandy from a man with an apparent desperate phobia of flippers.


Craig enjoys himself standing around posing in a wetsuit. He's keeping watch whilst Richard goes diving.


Elsewhere, Sharron displays more of her dodgy wardrobe whilst speaking to the local mayor.


He's a veteran of the Wehrmacht, and tells her something of the end of the war.


Richard and Craig are having an improbably good time messing about on the river, especially given that it's allegedly freezing cold. I'm greatly amused by how heavy these two supermen find their air tanks. ;)


Donald Houston, meanwhile, is in killjoy mode, and plans to discourage their investigations permanently.


Flying Richard! A gunshot sends him hurtling for cover, startling our watching bad guys. Boarding House Minion is stunned by Richard's leaping prowess, but Donald Houston continues his endearing fondness for black humour by commenting that they're clearly on a kangaroo hunt. :D


Richard takes cover behind a tree. All is going well, until Minion Boy sneaks up behind him, but fails to be nearly homicidal enough for Donald Houston's liking. Minion Boy is therefore promptly shot dead by Donald Houston as punishment.


Shortly afterwards, splendidly unaware of all that's been going on, Craig pops up with a map that he's liberated from a sunken truck. It is, he says, a map showing the retreat of the SS troops at the end of the war, thus proving that he really is some kind of expert on military history.


Mentioned on the map is a local mine, so the boys decide to go along and take a look at it. Firstly, however, they must stand and stare into the middle distance, in a suitably dramatic fashion.

There's a rather unfortunate thing about television. Torches cause glare, which dazzles the camera, and looks very bad onscreen. Also, dark scenes tend to piss off viewers. Consequently, "dark" scenes are rarely dark, and torches are rarely as necessary as the script calls for them to be. This frequently leads to scenes where people blunder about in a complete lack of darkness, peering at things whilst armed with torches that aren't actually shining in the slightest. Ordinarily I wouldn't object, because it's television, and these things are forgivable. This is The Champions, though. Craig and Richard have perfect night-vision. Consequently there absolutely no need for the torch nonsense in the first place, which makes it all seem that bit more glaring. Anyway, they clamber about in the mine, only to be interrupted by Donald Houston again. The boys decide that they can't use their guns - not unless they have silencers, says Donald, warning them about the dangers of cave-ins. Oh? Do silencers prevent ricochets, then?! You'd have to be a loony to have a shoot-out in a place like that. Soon enough it's no longer an issue, though, for Donald blows up half of the mine, leaving Richard and Craig artfully daubed in yellow powder paint. Sadly, despite the tonnes of falling rock, Craig's appalling jacket survives. What is it with him and that outfit? He always wears it whilst fighting Nazis. It's the exact same ensemble that he wore back in "The Search". Elsewhere, realising that the boys are in trouble, Sharron prepares to dash to the rescue, only to be stopped by the mayor from earlier. He's decided to kill her for no readily apparent reason, although he does very thoughtfully tell her to bring along her coat. It would, after all, be a shame if she got a chill prior to dying. She gets away from him easily enough, and rushes to the mine to dig out Craig and Richard, who are meanwhile discovering something very odd. Recent graves and wartime stores all point to a group of German soldiers having been hiding underground since the nineteen forties. Sure enough, they find a lone, lurking soldier, who tells them that only he and one other man, an officer driven mad by the solitude, have survived. He's a rather sad, shambolic figure, and it's enough to make one overlook the rather baffling lack of explanation as to what he's doing down there in the first place.


Craig and Richard explore the mine, with some splendidly rubbish torches.


They soon find themselves pinned down by the enemy, but being unable to use their guns, are somewhat stuck.


Donald Houston prepares to blow them up, because he's a charmingly homicidal nutball.


Richard finds himself trapped beneath a large chunk of mine. Interestingly, being blown up has actually made one of the torches work better. It usually kills them.


The boys ponder an outbreak of boot-wearing, German-speaking rats.


Craig and his splendidly rubbish and unnecessary torch find a grave for a German soldier, who apparently died trapped in the mine in 1953.


Richard and his torch find another grave, this time for a man who died in 1962.


The boys are puzzled about the graves. Is it possible that a group of German soldiers was trapped in the mine at the end of the war, and have been down there all of this time?


Soon enough they get their answer, when they find a lone man hiding in a cave of stores.


Richard, Craig, and Craig's suddenly prominent cheekbones are shocked by their discovery. Richard's torch is so shocked that it even manages to shine a little bit.


They hear the story of fifty members of the Wehrmacht, buried alive by the SS in 1945. I have no idea why they were buried, though. The actual reason for this, and for Donald Houston's determination to prevent all of this from coming to light, is really rather vague.


Meanwhile, Sharron fights her way past the debris from the explosion, determined to find the rest of her team.


She is interrupted by a German colonel, however, who captures her, and takes her back to his headquarters in a nearby cave. He then plies her with champagne, and generally behaves very politely.

No fair. Richard and Craig are forever getting tortured. How come she gets champagne?!


Richard agrees to take the lurking survivor back to the outside world, whilst Craig stays down in the tunnels to have a look around.


Disco!


Back in the outside world for the first time in twenty-three years. You know, this episode is really rather touching at times.


Although it does have a tendency to keep spoiling it by then throwing in bizarre moments like this one. Just what was Donald Houston doing in that cupboard for the last few hours? Why didn't he do anything when Sharron went in? How did his minions manage to fit in there with him? Do Nazis often hide in cupboards, and should we be checking for them on a regular basis?


Back underground, Sharron gets the drop on the colonel, who is remarkably chipper about it.


A moment later, the mayor bursts in. He's the colonel's brother, and is also the SS officer responsible for sealing him underground in the first place. He's stolen his identity, and has been living in his place all these years. So that's what this is all about? Students machine-gunned, Craig and Richard exploded, to protect the mayor's identity? Possible, I suppose, although there was no reason to think that the colonel would still be alive down there. And I'm still drawing a blank as to why they were buried in the first place.


The colonel is less than delighted by the family reunion.

So it's all about identities, then? I don't appear to have ever seen this episode before, so perhaps it's my unfamiliarity with it that is making all this seem a little odd. If the reason for the murders is really to keep the mayor's identity a secret, then it's a pretty rubbish plan. After all, murders do tend to be investigated. Donald Houston and his minions are clearly not old enough to have fought in the war themselves, so presumably they're recent recruits to the SS. Has the mayor been running an entire SS division all this time, and if so, why? Why did he not get any of them to check the mine before now, and see if there was anybody still alive down there, and protect his new identity properly? Given how readily the guy who runs the tourist operation at the mine crumbles in the face of pressure from Donald and co, it seems that they have quite a reputation locally. Just how big is this thing? And why? The colonel is not interested in such issues, however, and decides to hit the self-destruct button that has conveniently been set up on the wall. His brother runs off, trapping everybody in the office, with the counter ticking down to zero. As they finally break out, Craig dramatically announces to Sharron that they will now have to move faster than they've ever done before! They then completely fail to do this, in a scene so lacking in drama that it's actually rather funny - quite a shame given everything that's just preceded it.

Anyway, with the gig clearly now up, the mayor escapes out of town, taking the time to burn his ID and all available photographs of him, so that nobody will be able to identify him later. You'd think somebody in town would have seen him before, wouldn't you. Him being the mayor and all. Some of them might even remember what he looks like. I suppose they could all be in the SS as well, though, so in the end it falls to Sharron, with her Championy photographic memory to help out, to sketch a picture of him to forward to the border guards. As Tremayne then explains shortly afterwards, as they all gather together back in Geneva, he was arrested before he could get away, and is now in custody.

Good. Maybe now somebody can ask him to explain the plot.


At the inn, the other survivor is having his first non-wartime stores meal in twenty-three years. It looks revolting, I have to say.


A knock suddenly comes at the door. It's Donald Houston and his minions, fresh out of the cupboard, and looking for somebody to kill.


Richard proceeds to take them, and the inn, to pieces. It's probably just as well that the innkeeper got shot earlier. He might be a bit upset, otherwise, and rather inclined to sue.


Craig finds his way to the colonel's cave, where the mayor gets the drop on him, and demands his surrender.


He's surprised to find himself in a cave with a pair of identical twins. Not that he has long to think about it. Taking advantage of the distraction, the colonel hits the self-destruct button, in an effort to defeat his evil brother.


Mortally wounded by his brother's bullet, he then dies in Sharron's arms. Once again, this manages to be rather a sad moment. An old soldier, trapped beneath the ground for all these years, and slowly going mad, killed when he's within reach of his escape. Once again, however, the atmosphere is murdered immediately afterwards.


Craig and Sharron, being the "fastest they've ever been". Or walking. Whichever.


Boom!


In the mayor's office, Sharron quickly sketches a portrait, so that their quarry can be stopped at the border.


Tremayne is impressed by the picture, and suggests that Sharron draw him some time. This leads to a spectacularly lame joke about him trying to escape across the border. It's beautifully delivered, and it's a nice scene, but it's still a rubbish joke. Sorry, gang.

Coming next is "The Body Snatchers", which certainly sounds nicely dramatic. It's another one that I don't have any memory of, but I'm pretty sure that "The Survivors" is the only one I've not seen before. Still, I shall soon find out. :)

Comments

( 1 fierce growl — Growl fiercely )
ell_sea_kay
Feb. 26th, 2010 06:30 pm (UTC)
*cupboard love*


Sorry for the non-interesting comment, but it's been a long week - I do enjoy these reviews :)
( 1 fierce growl — Growl fiercely )

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