This is an episode of TMFU that so badly tries to be The Avengers & misses the target in some subtle, yet dramatic ways. It begins with a woman in a hotel in London breaking a tooth on a rough diamond found in a tin of Pogue's Pudding.
Needless to say, no amount of putting red telephone boxes on the corners of a standard American street set won't turn it into a London street scene, & much of the charm of this one for me is the near-caricature of Britishness it presents. The accent of the woman who bites into the Pogue's pudding is good but not quite right to a British ear (it's overdone), there's a fire hydrant in one scene that is definitely more New York than London, & so on.
That said, I don't think the unreality of this show is really a shortcoming. It almost feels in season 2 of TMFU that they's picking up on something in the zeitgeist that The Avengers also picked up on, by attempting to create a world where you can really imagine someone recreating the Indian Mutiny in the potting shed. Where I think TMFU fails is that the unreality is a) overdone & b) becomes the point. This episode is only slightly unbelievable until the introduction of Raphael Delgardo: it is a mistake to attempt to merge reality & unreality: it shows up the unreality for what it is. Where the Avengers would have done this episode differently is that Mr Delgardo would not have appeared: the episode would have focused on the Pogue family probably. The crime plot would come from one of Steed's aunts who happened to write a story, rather than a real criminal. There are attempts to parody the mafia family (the use of umbrellas) but that element fails by introducing a different genre.
Nice Avengers-esque touches include the bone china teapot & cup in a prison cell, & the use of a manhole cover by the men from UNCLE. I love that Delgardo is smuggled out of Dartmoor prison in a laundry van!
Visually this show is also a mixed bag: the gangsters in the mist scene is very effective, the car chase with the identical blue cars is good. They're Hillman Imps, one of those cars with the engine at the back & always considered eccentric, thus a good choice for that scene in comparison to the more staid British cars of the time. The production is very evidently completely studio-bound, which I don't have a problem with. What idoes raise a question for me is the muddy colour palette chosen for the scenes, & even the clothes. Greys & browns predominate, creating an atmosphere of, well, chewing gum. The rare touches of colour come as a relief. I don't remember a TMFU striking me like this before, even the unrestored ones I saw repeated on the telly in the eighties. It gives an effect of sameness. I wonder frankly whether it was an attempt to ape the sets of The Avengers that failed abjectly.
So overall, I don't think I would object to this one if I didn't have The Avengers to compare it to! It tries to be several things so badly. It's probably also one of the few episodes that