Spyder's Web: Red Admiral
This is one of two episodes of Spyder's Web that survive in colour, & in my opinion that fact does this episode no good at all. It also illustrates why I was so glad that Emergency Exit only survives in black & white. This is illustrated by a point (at 01:50 where a section of the film has been black & white & the colour springs back in. In black & white the picture is crisp, light & dark are clearly differentiated, but all this just becomes fuzzy when the colour comes back. This may have been partly because of the '70s palette of greys & browns that dominate many of the scenes, but I suspect it it because of a lack of restoration work on the part of Network. The colours in this episode look like a 1980s pirated video of the Avengers, & don't compare well to Studio Canal's remastering for the recent box sets. These two colour episodes really show their age. This is not helped by the opening computer scene which dates it tremendously, as opposed to the usual low-tech episodes, where one concentrates on what is actually going on.
This is another episode of Spyder's Web that feels more like a rather stodgy 1970s television drama, lacking the sparkle of, say, Emergency Exit- which I suppose is bound to happen with different writers. I think this may be because there is more interaction - or rather conversation - with other characters which seems to slow it down. This may be partly because of the argument about war & peace/family argument in the middle. You can feel the pace slowing down once they go to the sea side, & picking up again towards the end when Lottie & Hawksworth are listening to their tapes. Even the relationship between them is subtly different, even with the odd spat. I mean, Lottie never calls Hawksworth 'Tiger' once!
This is not to say the rest of the programme is a wash-out: I love the adolescent angst of the Admiral's son, Mike. Milton Johns is very well-cast as Arthur the sound man. The unusual use of technology is carried on by the use of bugging.
My main criticism of this episode remains the pacing. We are probably more brand-aware now than in the 1970s, but this doesn't *feel* like an episode of Spyder's Web. More attention to consistency of pace & atmosphere would have taken care of this.