Okay, so starting with “A” means that the start of the two weeks on this letter gets off to an almost guaranteed brilliant start with four episodes of The Avengers. My original plan had been to go for four episodes I’ve not seen or hadn’t seen that many times but things got a little changed for the second episode I picked. Anyway, starting with a season two episode (it’s the season I only got on DVD a short while ago and still haven’t fully worked through), I decided it was time for a Venus revisiting.
Venus Smith seems to get a bad press a lot of the time but I really rather like her. There’s something about Steed having a singing sidekick that already sets The Avengers aside from other spy series. The Avengers always had style but what little I’ve seen and heard about season one suggests it might have been far more run of the mill than future years. Season two, the season of many side kicks, has a bit more of a sense of fun about it (probably because Steed “discovers” female company). “School for Traitors” is still, at heart, a rather bog standard story of public school, spies, deadly face cream and lizards. Not in that order and with a few upper class accents in there as well but hell, it’s quite a fluffy romp. It was chosen mostly at random and I didn’t actually have very high expectations for it but it easily kept me entertained for 50 minutes or so. Perhaps every series should have their own night club singer popping up every now and then to liven things up!
I’d planned to do a Cathy Gale that I wasn’t too familiar with but then I remembered it’s just been New Year’s Eve (how could I forget that???) so I plumped for the rather brilliant “Dressed to Kill”. There’s a party (there’s always a party in Steed’s life but this time we get to see it), there’s fancy dress, there’s Leonard Rossiter and government secrets. By season three we’re definitely into the spies with style territory but this one is more Agatha Christie than James Bond but it just oozes Avengers charm. It also got “reworked” into an Emma Peel story called “The Superlative Seven” so, of course, I just had to watch that one next. Amazingly, even with the presence of Brian Blessed in the cast, I didn’t have to reach for the volume control once! Steed’s at another party (this time on a plane rather than the black and white train) and it’s a similar premise (invite from an old friend but everyone got invited by different people) but this one is much more brutal. People get stabbed, shot, run down… all kinds of grisly deaths get delivered in “And Then There Were None” style. It’s good fun trying to guess who the killer’s going to be (ummmm, if you’ve not seen it before, best forget I just made that ATTWN comparison) and Donald Sutherland is VERY creepy at times.
Miss King wears a blond wig, well she needs to so that the old and new footage mixes together well to form “Invasion of the Earthmen”. It’s weird. Seriously weird. There’s a training ground with spacemen, students trying to kill each other and a spinning mobile that I’m guessing is supposed to be a solar system but looks more like a Christmas tree ornament. Astronaut soldiers are being trained so that humans can take over other worlds. Successful solders get cryogenically frozen and unsuccessful ones get fed to snakes. For a Tara King episode it’s surprisingly dark, well it’s green and purple décor but it’s quite a bleak episode on the grounds I can see it being the sort of thing that certain powers might even consider. I was expecting lightness and daftness from Tara, I forgot what the original premise had been. An unexpectedly militaristic end to the night… but a damn good night it was.
Next time…. More stuff beginning with “A”. Might go for a movie next time. No. I couldn’t. I mean I’ve given up the drink, I couldn’t possibly do that sober… could I?