Time for another step back to look at the past month’s Avenger-watching.
I started out thinking watching a dozen a month would be easy, and I should be able to catch up on January (following my late start). In fact it proved quite challenging – not least because Netflix released season 2 of House of Cards this month. And BBC 2 started screening the second series of Line of Duty (having been a little underwhelmed by series 1 I hadn’t intended to watch it, but it has proved to be unmissable). And then I started reading Reamde (Neal Stephenson’s nerdy version of 24) and before I know it I’m 900 pages in; it’s pretty hard to put down. Carving out 3 hours of Avengers watching a week would be easy (I could do all that on train journeys) if I didn’t watch or read anything else! Still, I did manage to watch 13 so I’m almost caught up.
- The Sell-Out
- Death on the Rocks
- Traitor in Zebra
- The Big Thinker
- Death Dispatch
- Dead on Course
- Immortal Clay
- Box of Tricks
- The Golden Eggs
- School for Traitors
- White Dwarf
(February has been all about season 2.)
The show itself has proved quite uneven, though it’s generally been interesting, entertaining or both. The only episode I’d consider a dud from this lot is White Dwarf.
It’s uneven in part because of the changing companion – each has a rather different relationship with Steed. Cathy Gale is a rôle recognisable in that Mrs Peel and Purdey would play something quite similar. Dr King is like a rather limp version of Dr Keel. Venus Smith is something else entirely – often an unwitting victim of circumstances – circumstances usually engineered by Steed! A Venus Smith episode is distinctive with its musical numbers, though, and her relentless good humour.
In terms of the progression of Steed’s relationship with Cathy I do wonder if watching the episodes in broadcast order was an error. It seems to lurch backwards, sometimes, although perhaps no more than could be explained by the mood Cathy happens to be in! I don’t know if the progression from gritty crime drama to fantastical espionage would be any smoother in production order… The balance is shifting, though, with four crime-busting episodes to the nine counter-espionage stories among this lot. And we’ve got one paranormal episode, and one sci-fi episode in there… We’ve come along way from Hot Snow already.
I’ve now seen all episodes of The Avengers apart from the last 5 episodes of season 2 (and a couple of season 6) but in March I will continue into a re-watch of season 3. I’m looking forward to seeing how season 3 compares, and fits in to the development of the show, though I’ll miss sitting down to brand new episodes where I have no idea how they will turn out!
Pick of February: Probably has to be Dead on Course despite being a Dr King episode. Just the right blend of procedural investigation, ambitious criminality and spookiness. Box of Tricks would have to be the best Venus episode, but none of Mrs Gale’s stories here match up to the best of last month (Bullseye, Propellant 23, Mr Teddy Bear).