The Avengers Series 5

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 1 – From Venus with Love

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 1 – From Venus with Love

    For a lot of people, series five of The Avengers IS The Avengers. It’s in colour, for starters, and takes full advantage of the extended tonal pallet by really laying on the visuals – in From Venus with Love, the first episode to air (the fourth of the series to be made) – … Read more

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 2 – The Fear Merchants

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 2 – The Fear Merchants

“Steed puts out a light; Emma takes fright” runs the subhead to The Fear Merchants, second episode of the fifth series of The Avengers, and its belly-flop rhythm makes it apparent that this novelty is already not a good idea. But on with the episode, which starts well with a man who stands alone inside an … Read more

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 3 – Escape in Time

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 3 – Escape in Time

  Escape in Time is a good chance to see what the great documentary maker John Krish can do when handed an episode of The Avengers to direct.   The results are a mixed bag: visually interesting but dramatically a little flat, though the premise – a time-travelling bolthole into another era to aid escaping … Read more

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 4 – The See-Through Man

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 4 – The See-Through Man

  After time travel in the previous week’s episode, Escape in Time, The Avengers’ augmented interest in sci-fi gets another workout in The See-Through Man, a plot all about invisibility and its dastardly uses.   Comedy is the overarching tone and self-parody the effect as first one person then another is killed by an invisible … Read more

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 6 – The Winged Avenger

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 6 – The Winged Avenger

  The Winged Avenger, self-referentiality to one side, is a comic-book title and a comic-book episode – look at the framing throughout – and intriguingly suggests that The Avengers now has another genre reference point, having conclusively ditched noirish crime fiction as a motherlode even before Honor Blackman left the show at the end of series … Read more

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 7 – The Living Dead

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 7 – The Living Dead

The zombie movie was sleeping fitfully in its crypt – George Romero would wake it in 1968 with Night of the Living Dead – when The Avengers episode The Living Dead first aired in February 1967. Steed and Peel, it seems, are now ghosthunters as well as murder investigators, industrial-decline consultants and everyday spies, and … Read more

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 8 – The Hidden Tiger

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 8 – The Hidden Tiger

  Well written and brilliantly cast, The Hidden Tiger is also very neatly directed by Sidney Hayers, who starts the episode with a point-of-view shot of a butler being dispatched by forces unseen while he is putting out a bowl of milk for the cat.   In death the man lies draped in a tiger … Read more

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 9 – The Correct Way to Kill

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 9 – The Correct Way to Kill

  So we arrive at The Correct Way to Kill, a rewrite of the series 3 episode The Charmers, and a frank admission that The Avengers has pretty much run out of ideas.   Or, since we’re being generous, that it’s taking a prize episode out for a well deserved second airing – The Charmers was … Read more

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 10 – Never, Never Say Die

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 10 – Never, Never Say Die

  Christopher Lee! Christopher Lee of Dracula fame, intelligence operations during the Second World War, later a Bond villain, Saruman of Lord of the Rings and a heavy metal artist in his 90s, yes, that’s the man, lumbering about like Frankenstein’s monster (another role) the first time we see him, and shot from below, again … Read more

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 11 – Epic

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 11 – Epic

  When writers run out of ideas, they either start cannibalising their own old ones (see the episode from two weeks’ prior – The Correct Way to Kill), they duck into comedy (no refuge for a series that already has its tongue boring a hole through its cheek) or they reach for genre parody. Epic … Read more

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 12 – The Superlative Seven

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 12 – The Superlative Seven

  Charlotte Rampling, Donald Sutherland and Brian Blessed are the standout names in The Superlative Seven, a title suggesting this episode is going to borrow heavily from The Magnificent Seven of seven years before. In fact it’s more a reworking of Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians, with a bit of Hunger Games thrown in (appropriately, … Read more

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 14 – Something Nasty in the Nursery

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 14 – Something Nasty in the Nursery

  Clive Dunn, Paul Eddington, Yootha Joyce and Penelope Keith – four of the biggest names in 1970s British TV comedy – were relative unknowns when Something Nasty in the Nursery aired in April 1967. But their presence is further proof, if any were needed, that The Avengers had slewed well towards the lighter end of … Read more

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 15 – The Joker

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 15 – The Joker

  The creeping feeling that The Avengers is running out of puff is further reinforced by The Joker, a rewrite of the Cathy Gale-era episode Don’t Look Behind You. Except in this case it’s Emma Peel who is stalked by an admirer with a deadly agenda. It was a very good episode first time round … Read more

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 16 – Who’s Who???

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 16 – Who’s Who???

The Nicolas Cage/John Travolta film Face/Off might perhaps have borrowed its central idea from Who’s Who???, a crackingly conceived episode of The Avengers built around the idea of a mind-swap between Steed and the dastardly Basil (Freddie Jones). There’s a bit plot business before we get to the big central idea – we are introduced … Read more

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 17 – Return of the Cybernauts

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 17 – Return of the Cybernauts

When the British Film Institute celebrated 50 Years of Emma Peel in 2015, as well as interviewing the venerable Dame Diana Rigg – halfway through her run on Game of Thrones at the time – the BFI screened two episodes of Peel-era Avengers show. Return of the Cybernauts was one (The House That Jack Built … Read more

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 18 – Death’s Door

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 18 – Death’s Door

  Closer co-operation between European countries is a good thing, right? That’s the idea driving Death’s Door, an episode with a mind-control theme and a jaunty spy-fi approach to what is essentially an espionage thriller plot. But before the Europhobes get all steamed up, the co-operation, though never quite spelled out, appears to be more … Read more

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 19 – The £50,000 Breakfast

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 19 – The £50,000 Breakfast

  The £50,000 Breakfast is a Cathy Gale-era episode (Death of a Great Dane) originally written by Roger Marshall and then reworked here by Brian Clemens into an Emma Peel-era one. And though it’s tempting to do a compare and contrast – as if to definitively nail the differences between the two eras – that … Read more

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 20 – Dead Man’s Treasure

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 20 – Dead Man’s Treasure

  Dead Man’s Treasure takes that old staple of the country house weekend – the treasure hunt – and turns it into a reasonably thrilling car-chase adventure unsure quite how jokey it wants to be. My hunch is that the thrills come courtesy of writer Michel Winder, the jokes from showrunner Brian Clemens, since camping it … Read more

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 22 – The Positive Negative Man

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 22 – The Positive Negative Man

  A mad spy-fi story, the sort that made The Avengers the legendary show it is, The Positive Negative Man gets off to a Cybernauts-style start with a big lumbering creature – a man in silver greasepainted face and a metal sleeve on one finger – zapping a scientist (Bill Wallis) as he labours over … Read more

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 23 – Murdersville

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 23 – Murdersville

  Murdersville feels like a very loose rewrite of a Cathy Gale-era Avengers episode, though having wracked my brains, I don’t believe it can be. The hallmarks are there though – old school English village, locals, a pub – real life, in other words, which the Emma Peel-era Avengers (Cybernauts, invisible men, an extra-terrestrial) so … Read more

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 24 – Mission… Highly Improbable

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 24 – Mission… Highly Improbable

The US TV series Mission: Impossible was not quite a year old and hadn’t yet aired in the UK when the Avengers episode Mission… Highly Improbable debuted in the UK in November 1967, so Brits wouldn’t have got the joke/reference. It matters not – apart from the allusive title, there’s nothing else carrying over from … Read more