The best moments in this episode seem to reference Emma Peel episodes – at the start, where we meet the titular gladiators, it’s shot almost identically to the opening of The Superlative Seven. And at the end, as Steed and Purdey face of the professor of gladiator school, Steeds clever solution reminds me just a little bit of the way he fixed the titular menace in The Cybernauts. In between we have a workman like story. It’s well crafted, but it lacks any sparkle either in the dialogue or its delivery. There’s some ok action, but there’s also some inexcusably hammy acting. And the police show up, yet again. Having been a no-no in the Peel and King era, they seem to be a required element of the Canadian New Avengers.
The story itself is fairly far fetched – the gladiators can, by pure focus, move fast enough and powerfully enough to deflect bullets and punch through thin steel. But it’s the kind of story you can imagine them doing in series 5 of the original series, and making it work. It’s also, watching it now, a bit like a cheap version of The Matrix. But 20 years earlier. (Incidentally, it occurs to me that Carrie Anne Moss would have made a far better Mrs Peel than Uma Thurman in the big screen Avengers that came out one year before The Matrix – but we shan’t mention that disaster again…)
Once again the headquarters of the Canadian security service feature heavily. There’s an open day (to Steed’s horror) which seems pretty forward looking now (I’m sure the same device is used in an early episode of Spooks). But this HQ is completely different to the one in Complex. Mind you, the department where Steed and Co. works which has featured regularly in this second series (having never appeared in the first) has looked different, and been staffed by different people, every time…
There’s only one more episode to go; then there will be no more Avengers or New Avengers left to watch… Gulp!