Avenging January

As I plough through every Avengers episode I think I’d better take the occasional step back from the trees and take a look at the wood… Monthly reviews seem sensible since I’m aiming to be watching around half a season a month. I’ll take a look at how the show’s developing, what’s new and what I’ve enjoyed. And I’ll pick my favourite episode I’ve watched during the month.

So, at the end of January, I’ve watched the surviving episodes from season 1:

And I’ve watched the first 8 episodes to be aired from season 2:

I’m a little behind my target of 11-12 episodes per month (though not far, on 10 and a third) but I’ve also watched Easy Money, the only surviving episode of Police Surgeon, and listened to the four brand new audio productions from original season 1 scripts

I’d expected to find the early episodes to have archeological interest but I found myself becoming quite engaged by the dynamic Dr Keel brings to the show. With a full time job and a very different outlook to Steed, there’s no mistaking the difference between amateur and professional in this. I didn’t think Police Surgeon, the Ian Hendry vehicle that preceded The Avengers had much in common with it – but Hendry’s approach to both medical roles is quite similar, and I’m impressed by his easy manner and his charisma. I’ve also become a huge fan of Carol Wilson, the unwitting Avengers girl; of all the new regulars I’ve met this month (Keel, Dr King, Venus Smith) she’s a firm favourite. In short, I want to see more of The Avengers’ first season and while I’m sad that won’t happen, I’m delighted to have been able to listen to four of them courtesy of Big Finish, and I’m looking forward to returning to season one when the next box set of four come out in July.

Season 2 is proving to be an interesting mixture. This is of course partly because Hendry’s departure led to Steed being paired with a set of quite different companions (I’ve noticed that Honour Blackman and Julie Stevens get their own title card appended on to a Steed-only sequence, but Jon Rollason doesn’t; at least until Death of a Great Dane in which Honour Blackman feature much more heavily in the titles). But it’s not just the personnel – there are huge tonal differences too – some of the Cathy Gale episodes already have the full flavour, and flair, of my favourite Avengers era (the first Emma Peel season). Others, along with the Dr King episode (Mission to Montreal), feel more firmly rooted in the melodrama and gritty pretensions of the earlier stuff. The Venus Smith stories are much more like Steed-solo since he keeps her in the dark – though while she’s not quite as smart or sensible as Carol Wilson, I do like having some jazz interspersed within the action. Overall, though, I’m surprised how quickly the show has developed into the high concept nonsense it’s famed for. Not only are these episodes more than mere historical artefacts, there have already been several that I’d put up there among my overall favourites.

Pick of January: this has to be Bullseye (though Propellant 23 was excellent fun and a close second).

About Simon Wood

Lecturer in medical education, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more...

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