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Archive for June 30th, 2017

by Sam Juliano

Note:  I came on board late for this assignment, and needed to spend quite a bit of time with my Avengers holdings.  I even just acquired the three blu ray sets out there from the most pivotal seasons.  Though I have always appreciated the show over the decades since it first made its debut, I dare say that this late life reviewing has yielded the best results ever for me, and I now profess a newfound love for this beloved British institution and the celebrated stars that moved mountains in its behalf.  I will continue my exploration over the summer.  Alas my pocket is now suddenly lighter.

Those who are asked to explain the phenomenon of the 60’s British espionage show The Avengers invariably come up with something along the lines that it was a unique if unrivaled hybrid bringing together wit, imagination and style.  The show ran over six seasons from 1961 to 1969, and later inspired the well regarded spin off  The New Avengers, a 1998 film, a stage play and of course the obvious contextual and stylistic parallels not to mention carry over cast members with the James Bond films.  Like those later Ian Fleming extravaganzas, The Avengers was and remains on re-visitation one of the most flat out entertaining television shows ever conceived and executed, a fact that in hindsight is easy to fathom in view of the eccentric scripts, bold set designs and perhaps most significantly the creation of strong identities for the show’s leads.  It goes without saying of course that the foundation of the series was Patrick Macnee’s dapper and urbane John Steed, who once developed over the earlier shows was markedly mysterious, suave and flirty (especially with his female assistants) and a trademark appearance, one adorned by a bowler hat, pinstripe suit and umbrella.  Macnee’s part was intended for Ian Hendry -then as Jonathan Steed- who departed after the initial season- and the rest as they say is history.  Just as famous as Steed though are the glamorous female partners played alluringly by Diana Rigg, Honor Blackman and Linda Thorson, all of whom in various degrees injected the proceedings with a sturdy measure of sexual energy, even if the chemistry was strictly platonic in a show committed first and foremost to keeping the world a safe place to live in.   The especially seductive and super-intelligent Emma Peel – no subject seemed beyond her comprehension, from nuclear physics to ballroom dancing – could dash the ambitions of any megalomaniac with a single leather-clad karate chop.  Rigg remains both for vintage fans of the show as well as those coming upon it for the first time as Macnee’s quintessential companion. (more…)

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