Avenging 2014 (Reprise)

First of all, this whole ‘watch every episode and blog it’ thing has taught me that committing to write a blog post every couple of days, even when its just a few hastily chosen words about a TV show, is an act of madness.

Secondly, watching something knowing you are going to write about it – and, indeed, the reflective process of writing – changes the way you see something. I’ve probably enjoyed the less thrilling episodes a lot more, because I’ve been engaging in a critical process. If I’m honest, I’ve maybe enjoyed some of the better episodes a little less because I haven’t been as free to lose myself in them. Although some of those black & while Mrs Peels were so good I couldn’t help but getting pleasurably caught up in the charm and  thrills.

The show itself, I think, I can more clearly delineate into the black and white era (the videotaped seasons, and the first filmed series with Emma Peel) which made the show an indisputable classic; and the colour era (the second Mrs Peel season, Tara King, and The New Avengers) when the show lost its foothold on reality, and, occasionally, intelligence, and consequently is merely entertaining and enjoyable. Throughout the show, it’s as if it grows more and more fantastical, whilst the level of cleverness diminishes. And the level of sophistication peaks somewhere in the middle.

Reinventing itself in The New Avengers is impressive after a gap of 7 years, even if the show itself is less impressive. Ultimately, it feels like The New Avengers tries too hard to fit into its era – to be modern – and then simultaneously struggles to differentiate itself from other espionage or fantasy series. It seems to have dated more than the parent show, which it is probably fair to say both relied more heavily on the old fashioned (Steed) and yet was more daring in being modern (pushing boundaries, not just keeping up). But The Avengers struggled in its final season, and though The New Avengers strives in the same way to find the balance between thriller and fantasy, it’s certainly no worse.

And more Avengers is, after all, more Avengers.

The three-way dynamic is still something I’m undecided about. I don’t think it was wholly successful (but neither was the Steed/Tara duo). If they brought it back – as, say, The New New Avengers, with the three characters, maybe it would work (though I think The Avengers really needs Steed as Macnee, and as he is approaching his 93rd birthday, that might be hoping for too much). I do think the show only really worked when we had a team with a professional and an amateur. But if we had an older, mysterious, secret agent (who, let’s say, is known only by the name Purdey) and two young amateurs (perhaps a GP, Dr Samantha Keel, played by Helen Baxendale, and an anthropologist, Jonathan Gale, played by Toby Stephens) I’d watch it. Mind you, I’d be happy to watch The Old Avengers if it involved a pair of septuagenarian amateur crime-fighters (Honor Blackman and Diana Rigg) teaming up to kick the arses of diabolical masterminds.

Like I say, more Avengers is more Avengers.

Actually, for my money, the show that’s come closest to the dynamic of the Gale/Peel zenith, when The Avengers was basically about having wonderful adventures with your best friend… is The X-Files (up to season 7, at least). There’s something that’s due a rewatch… but not just yet, I think. 2015 is for having a rest.

In the meantime, as we’re not likely to be getting New New Avengers I will happily settle for the wonderful reconstructed audio versions of the whole of series 1 from Big Finish, of which we’ll be getting the next four stories in January.

The Avenging is not yet done…

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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