Wednesday January 24, 2018
This DVD review takes the form of a personal dilemma – which series of The Avengers to purchase? For the fourth season, the show was shot on film as opposed to the earlier video tape, Honor Blackman’s Cathy Gale had been succeeded by Diane Rigg as Mrs. Emma Peel and there was a new theme tune from Laurie Johnson. For Series 5 there was the move to colour cinematography and on revisiting this supreme television show, my first impression was that John Steed’s motor fleet that was more extensive than I initially remembered. Between 1965 and 1967, viewers of The Avengers could witness Steed at the wheel of a 1924 Vauxhall 30-98 plus a quintet of Bentleys – a 1924 3-Litre Tourer, a 1925 3-Litre “Green Label” Open Four-Seater by Vanden Plas, a truly awe-inspiring 1930 6½ Litre Long Chassis Tourer plus a 1924 3 Litre and a 1929 4 ½ Litre with a Harrison body.
On screen, the crime fighting duo only ever referred to one Bentley (indeed the latter two shared the same number plate) although Patrick Macnee was not a motoring enthusiast. In 1968 he told a journalist that ‘I don’t enjoy driving. I do run a Jaguar S type, but I hate it and often lend it to my friends’. He also readily admitted to never mastering the technique of driving a vintage Bentley and so when Steed was not being doubled by a bowler-hatted stuntman, the actor would only employ third gear for the moving shots. For the wondrous Mrs. Peel, Lotus provided a 1964 Elan S2 which was succeeded by a Powder Blue 1966 S3 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhJniHPtLq8 - and of all the episodes of the fourth or fifth series, a few commend themselves to the classic enthusiast –
The Bird Who Knew Too Much – The two hitmen in the Austin 1800 “Landcrab” Mk. I are an eerie anticipation of the sort of villainy who would populate The Professionals a decade hence.
Castle D’Eath - Amphicars made a few film and TV appearances in the mid-1960s and this episode is a fine illustration of its aquatic abilities.
Dead Man’s Treasure – As the narrative of this week’s adventure centres on a road rally, this is the perfect excuse for the script to include shots of Triumph TR4As, MGBs with Bermuda Hardtops, a brace of Series One E-Types – a coupe and a roadster – a beauteous Mercedes-Benz 250 SE Cabriolet, a Series V Sunbeam Alpine to name but a few magnificent sports cars.
Death’s Door – Any storyline that features a Daimler DR450 may be regarded as a classic of television.
The Hidden Tiger – Guest starring Ronnie Barker (sounding as though he wrote his own dialogue) and a fleet of Mini Mokes. What is there not to like?
The Hour That Never Was – aka ‘The one with the driverless milk float’ and a prime example of how The Avengers could evoke a truly menacing atmosphere on a limited budget
Murdersville – Not only one of the finest episodes in the series but one with an array of cars to equal many a show, from a MGB Roadster and a VDP Princess 4 Litre R to a Citroen Safari and a “police” Wolseley 6/110 Mk. I.
The See-Through Man – Featuring a Jaguar Mk. 2 chase sequence, and a vibrantly over-acting Warren Mitchell as an inept Russian spy. Plus, a customised Austin FX3 taxi and a slightly incongruous looking DAF 44.
All such automotive splendour plus appearances from future stars such as a bearded Donald Sutherland and a very fresh-faced Steven Berkoff makes my decision obvious – I will have to purchase the complete run of The Avengers… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_joscOJuaNY