Christmas eve. There stove is flickering merrily. Time to watch the 163rd, and last, episode of The Avengers I’ll have watched this year. Accompanied, of course, by a glass of bubbly.
Emily is commonly disliked by fans, even more than the other Canadian episodes. For me it’s a treat. It’s not the best episode even of The New Avengers. But it’s pacy and fun and feels like something special to watch at a festive moment, following on from listening to the final (wonderful) Cabin Pressure.
The plot may be slightly contrived. But the central aim is simple and well defined – to get the handprint of ‘The Fox’ (whose identity, sensibly, is not the subject of suspense) to Toronto for forensic examination. The drama is entirely in the obstacles encountered.
I can see why it has its reputation. It’s unsubtle in its comedy. Slapstick with music to match – the kind of thing that would normally irritate me. But somehow this one has charm, and Johnson judges the musical moods well, swinging between the hillbilly twanging and the oompah music and the wah-wah signature of the series. I like the vignettes – Purdey going through the carwash, Steed stealing eggs to mend the radiator, Gambit trying to buy moonshine and the distiller fighting him because he likes him. It’s not a typical episode, it’s an episode that indicates a certain confidence in the show’s identity (that is, perhaps, not entirely earned). But it works for me.
And one of its strengths is that Steed, Gambit and Purdey stay together, work together, as equals, as a team.
The New Avengers has been a mixed bag. But it’s worth it all of it – even the renaming of Mrs Peel – after the terrible fizzle that was Bizarre, to be able end the series on a proper high note. It may not exemplify all that The Avengers or The New Avengers is. Hell, it may not even have any champagne in it. But as Steed plugs a carnation into his button-hole for the last time, I raise my glass.
Thank you, The Avengers. I’ve just mainlined 163 episodes – from a period of 16 years – in under 12 months.
It’s been wonderful.