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The Avengers

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The best spy show of them all—charming, witty, intelligent, with a serving of man-eating plants, teddy bear costumes, evil Santa Clauses, diabolical masterminds, and Peter Cushing-controlled robots on the side.

For everyone who hasn’t seen this—what are you waiting for? For longtime fans—isn’t it time you saw it again? 😉

There’s a great fan-site here, though the guy who owns it has stopped updating it.

My favorite years are unsurprisingly with the lovely Emma Peel (Diana Rigg), Steed’s perfect partner. 

What say you?

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Well, True Entertainment a have started reshowing the entire series from the beginning this week so expect ep by ep reviews from me. 

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On 6/29/2019 at 5:12 AM, Joe Hellandback said:

Well, True Entertainment a have started reshowing the entire series from the beginning this week so expect ep by ep reviews from me. 

Great! Will love to see what you think of it. 

I should note that it doesn’t really hit its stride until halfway through the Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman) years, so those first episodes may be slow going.

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Girl on a Trapeze

Well they didn't actually start at the beginning which was pretty baffling to me at first as Steed isn't even in this one. We have a dead woman which breaks one of the later rules established by the series and interestingly a villainous clown which will recur in L(SMIYHTOB)BTWTTF. The black and white isn't quite so shocking as the theme music, without Laurie Johnson's magnificent tune it hardly seems like The Avengers at all. The plot seems rather familiar, maybe from an old ep of Randall and Hopkirk?  

The Frighteners

A lot grittier than the series will eventually be, stocking masked East End thugs with knuckledusters get threatened by our heroes with cutthroat razors and syringes of acid. The central plot is quite banal although it's interesting to see the lost world of high society 'seasons' and 'debs'. Also rather odd to see Steed smoking, I recall later that he always packed a cigarette case but didn't actually smoke himself.  

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Mission to Montreal

Well this one comes across as more of a play of the week rather than an episode of The Avengers. Steed doesn't even show up until about half way through although the titles show him to be the star (and gun toting!). But he is the star, shows how disposable Keel was that I barely noticed his role was performed by another actor/character. But oh my god not only do we have a woman murdered onscreen but we actually see the blood on the knife! Which I'm sure would be all the more shocking if rendered in colour. Perhaps the most entertaining aspect in all of this is the sight of Steed playing the steward rather than the upper class passenger, a role he repeats as Roger Moore's valet in A View to a Kill. 

Dead on Course 

How come so many Avengers' episodes seem to have some form of link with Canada? Rather reminds you of The New Avengers' second season.  This one of course is utterly hilarious for its' Darby O'Gill and the Little People depiction of 1960s Southern Ireland right down to the head nun warning Steed that the local police would not dare question her authority, a Catholic State for a Catholic people indeed, right down to the stewardess who doesn't wear her wedding ring because she can't let anyone know she married a protestant. On the other hand the air crash is quite impressively staged, the identity of the head villain is a clever twist and it starts to veer towards the glorious absurdism of the later series with machine gun toting murderous nuns.     

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The Sell Out

Pretty much a conventional spy thriller, this in the post Cambridge spy ring era of Philby, McClean, Blunt etc when such things were commonplace. But here we have Steed in a bowler hat for the first time (just in time for the 12th of July). I guess no one tries CPR in the 60s, the doctor just says 'He's dead' and everyone accepts that. Also why does the policeman cancel the ambulance, how are they going to take the body away? We see Steed's superiors for the first time, I'd never seen them before Mother in season 9. Outdoors filming and Steed actually has a car but not the Bentley we know and love, more of a sporty little number. King's disenchantment possibly seems to indicate his exit from the series and the Asian crisis very much reeks of Vietnam which was brewing at the time. And oh my god, Steed uses his own gun to kill a man! WOW!

7/10      

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Death Dispatch

And here is Cathy Gale, at last this is beginning to feel like the real Avengers, especially with the banter back and forth. Going to Jamaica, how very Bond? (remember reading a fictional biography of Steed where he was expelled from Eton for fighting with the school bully, one J Bond). Using stock footage was much more effective in the black and white days but I do love the couple throwing the beachball who are obviously waiting for their cue. Steed is much more the womaniser here with the poolside beauties, the villain putting a note down the bar girl's cleavage and we have Honor in her bra, the series is beginning to sex things up a little. Blood again if only in a photograph. Interesting we're dealing with an attempted right wing coup in Chile, very prescient. Steed doesn't speak Spanish, my god, something he's not good at?

 The police want to talk to Steed about all the bodies he leaves lying around? Since when? The consul even cautions him there are limits to diplomatic immunity? Brutal Steed beating up the barman for info, we do see occasional flashes of such steel from time to time. But then he and Cathy take an innocent girl hostage and put a gun to her head, REALLY?

7/10 

Edited by Joe Hellandback

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Propellent 23

Geoffrey Palmer and Nic Courtney in the same ep! More brutality towards and murder off women. Ah, the days when you could just walk into an airliner's cockpit and speak to the pilot? Steed without a gun but he actually hands one over to Cathy. We also have him fingering his way through ladies lingerie and Cathy showing some serious fighting skills. Cathy is apparently considering some volunteer work in the third world to help starving children which is a touch of reality for once although the kids in the picture don't exactly look like they're from Borneo?  Nice little comedy moment at the end too, that funny little coda to end the show was always one of the highlights .

6/10 

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My Teddy Bear

Current affairs 1960s style, you half expect the interviewer to be talking to Enoch Powell. Steed actually watches TV? I have to say I'm a little disappointed, I didn't think he got one until the Tara years. Note Cathy stands up to Steed which must have been a little unusual for the time, the man was inevitably in charge. Although he then refers to Cathy being 'caned', his spanking fetish much more apparent in later years. We have the first of the remote Home Counties villages that will feature so often in the series. Steed has a dog? We also have him topless back in the days heroes had ordinary physiques and not everyone was a  six pack rippling muscleman.  Like the way that Cathy is savvy enough to sabotage the villain's motorcycle and again we have the absurdist creeping in, Cathy negotiating an assassination with a talking teddy bear, reminded me a little of the 90s movie.

7/10.  

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The Decapod

Interesting title, I never really thought that the world of The Avengers and professional wrestling would mix but you never can tell with this show! More violence towards women and a lot of bare-chested beefcake running around. Venus Smith whom I've never actually seen before, Steed is quite condescending towards her and essentially trick her into helping him, referring to her as a 'Good little girl' and it is implied that the villain appears to actually force himself on her offscreen? You can't imagine that happening with Cathy Gale. A little bit of hard boiled Cold War politics, Britain supporting a dictator to support the West's strategic aims. We even have a character with a pronounced Northern accent which is also a rarity. Also Steed backs down from a fight at the wrestling which is unusual, he's normally portrayed as invincible in hand to hand.  

6/10

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Bullseye

A very Steed light episode and it rather suffers for it but does give Cathy a chance to shine, she is especially good when tussling with the heavy on the boat. Very contemporary concerns with arms smuggling to Africa and our first of the eccentrics that we shall come to know and love, keeping his outlandish flat as a replica of Bermuda (he might as well have villain written all over him but actually no, his verbal fencing with Cathy is especially memorable). We also have a lecherous company director carrying on an affair with the nubile young secretary (I would love it to have turned out that she was behind the whole thing in the end and thought that was actually the twist that was coming). We have Steed in full Steed ensemble right down to the diamond tie pin looking very at home in the old fashioned stock exchange before Mrs T computerised it all, oddly Steed and Cathy here talk of money which is unusual, never seems a concern for them. Could have sworn that it was Edward Fox foremost amongst the shareholders but not according to IMDB.

7/10 

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The Removal Men;

Shows why Cathy Gale became the star and not Venus Smith who is at best bland and at worst actually annoying., you really miss the repartee between them and they come across as a team and equals. The stereotypical French jazz club scenes are hilarious and go on inexplicably for a very long time, did they not have enough plot and decided to pad things out? We also have a teenage nymphet Brigette Bardot type prancing around in her underwear before being manhandled by Steed, at least Venus takes the opportunity to knee the Aussie villain in the groin when he comes on too strong. Also a very odd scene where Steed and his superior strip to their trunks to sunbathe and then rub oil on one another, can't imagine Bond and M ever doing that? In a less innocent time it would smack of gay subtext.

7/10

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Oh and I should mention of course that Steed kills 2 more men, he really wracks up the bodycount in the early years. 

The Mauritius Penny

You have to wonder at Cathy Gale's eclectic mix of interests, stamps collecting not something that you'd normally associate with her. Love the schoolboy customer they have, he's much more the stereotype, straight out of the Bash Street Kids in The Beano. Steed not only has a Dalmatian dog as a pet but he also has a housekeeper called Elsie? Ah the days when London bobbies were issued boots rather than having to buy their own. In the early days Steed was much more beholden to officialdom, in later seasons he lords over them. A female dentist which must have been a real rarity back then. Steed encounter a fellow member of the old school tie brigade. Upper class right wing conspiracies and Richard Vernon, the upper class duffer to outdo all upper class duffers. 

7/10

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Death of a Great Dane

 Hey, John Laurie! Gives a great performance here a million miles away from Fraser in Dad's Army. We have a very curious scene here between Steed and the obsequious butler, you genuinely feel sorry for the man, I was almost hoping his character would work with the doctor to save them and Steed and Mrs Gale would let them both go with their money as a result. Also notice here it's now Steed AND Mrs Gale in the opening titles. 

7/10

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Death on the Rocks

What is it about The Avengers and diamonds? They do love episodes centred around them. Cathy and Steed posing as a married couple which is interesting and 2 more women murdered onscreen which is disturbing, especially the lethal beauty treatment. Noticeably the budget must have been running low once more as we see a story that seems entirely studio bound with no outside filming etc

5/10 

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Traitor in Zebra

Amazingly enough inspired by true events, the Portland Spy Ring infiltrating naval secrets in 1961. We have a young William Gaunt here who will later become a very well known face on British TV. Must have been a thrill for Patrick McNee to be back in naval uniform again after his WW2 service (where his MTB ferried spies back and forth from occupied Europe), especially as here he gets to play a Commander whilst in real life he was a Lieutenant. Once again however we have Steed being pretty darn forceful with women, roughing up the girl in the sweet shop in a way he would never have done in later seasons. The storyline rather reminds me of the 'All done with mirrors' ep in the Tara King years.

7/10 

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