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The Avengers '62: Complete Set (4DVD)
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Before Mrs. Emma Peel joined the team and before THE AVENGERS came to America, Mr. Steed (Patrick MacNee) was a familiar figure on the British telly, pursuing his crime-fighting career alongside a shifting cast of sidekicks. During THE AVENGERS' second season, Steed was busy at work with Dr. Martin King, a beguiling jazz singer named Venus Smith, and the beautiful anthropologist Mrs. Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman). With Cathy onboard, that elusive chemistry was just right, and THE AVENGERS was well on its way to achieving cult phenomenon status. Go back to the beginning of THE AVENGERS with these 14 seminal episodes from the show's second season:
* Mr. Teddy Bear
* Propellant 23
* The Decapod
* Mission to Montreal
* The Removal Men
* The Mauritius Penny
* Death of a Great Dane
* The Sell-Out
* Death on the Rocks
* Traitor in Zebra
* The Big Thinker
* Death Dispatch
* Dead On Course
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Sadly,of the first season pairing,of Patrick Macnee and Ian Hendry as John Steed and Dr.David Keel only two complete episodes survive(one of which is the recently rediscovered "Girl On The Trapeze" which doesn't feature Steed)and the first reel of the first episode "Hot Snow" out of the 26 episodes made.
Honor Blackman replaced Ian Hendry after he decided to move on to movies and Honor is excellent as the cool,highly intelligent Cathy Gale who really liberated women on television by showing herself to be as equally intelligent and capable as Steed and the fact,Cathy could protect herself by throwing a man over her shoulder and fight back,sent the ratings threw the roof and without Honor's great success,there would have been no Emma Peel,Tara King,Purdey and several other strong woman characters in the Bond films,Honor of course going on to be Pussygalore in "Goldfinger".
Honor Blackman's first filmed episode was "Death Dispatch"
and she was told after it,not to smile as much and be cooler and indeed,in "Death Dispatch",Steed and Cathy are more like Emma Peel and Steed would later be,Cathy doesn't do any fighting in that story but it comes in right after that.
What I like about Cathy Gale is,that unlike the "Avengers"ladies that follow,she really can give Steed a telling off when he deserves it and Steed is a lot more darker and manipulates people a lot more(especially poor Venus Smith,) than he would do with Emma Peel etc.
Cathy really cares about people,in her first screened story "Mr.Teddy Bear" when a young man is killed,she gets very angry at Steed as she feels the young man was used as bait to get at the villian of the piece,at the cost of his life.
I remember being very annoyed at a TV channel in the 90s,it did a feature on "The Avengers"and although it showed a clip of Cathy Gale in the trailer,all the other clips were of Emma Peel and Tara King,Cathy Gale is terrific and athough the pairing of Diana Rigg and Patrick Macnee is the best remembered of "The Avengers",the pairing of Honor Blackman and Patrick Macnee was heaven sent too!
Steed has two other co-Avengers in the 2nd season,Dr.Martin King,Jon Rollason who features in just three episodes,made before Honor Blackman started work and it was just a stop gap between Ian Hendry and Honor Blackman.
The Rollason stories are actually very good although Rollason is very quietly spoken and several rewinds on the DVD are required to pick up his dialogue,the best one of his stories is "Mission To Montreal"where he develops a crush on an actress Carla Berotti,a great performance by Patricia English,who is near to hysterics the whole episode.
There's not a great rapport between King and Steed but in fairness to Jon Rollason,the writers were using scripts leftover from the first season and the fact Jon Rollason isn't in the opening credits of his stories,shows his time was meant to be brief on the show.
Venus Smith played by Julie Stevens is the third co-Avenger in this second season and her character was created before Ian Hendry was leaving the show and had he stayed on,he would have alternated with Venus Smith.
I really like Julie Stevens potrayal,Venus is very likeable but so naive,and not as sophisticated as Cathy and is in the mould of the helpless female but she does hit one of the villians' in a painful spot in "The Removal Men".
Venus'singing is really good and brings a touch of glamour to the show,in a defferent way to Cathy Gale,she only features in two episodes of this disc and did another four in this season and then that was it,as Julie Stevens left the show to have a baby,it would have been nice to see Venus appear in a later story but it didn't happen.
Partick Macnee really made "The Avengers" as we all know,he brings great style,he can be menacing when required in these early stories and yet,always has a twinkle in his eye at the right time too!
Bring on the other 12 episodes of season 2 very soon,please!
Honor Blackman's character Cathy Gale was (as has already been stated by others here) really the very first strong female character to grace TV...this woman kicked some -serious- butt! Even if you are familiar with the character of Cathy Gale, this particular season is well worth looking into as it also featured other "Steed sidekicks" such as Venus Smith and Dr. King...characters that even many Avengers fans had never heard of!
In any incarnation, this was a great show and I seriously doubt there will ever be another quite like it. Part of that greatness I would have to attribute to Patrick McKnee's character of John Steed and to Patrick himself for being willing to work with strong and often dominant woman at a time when that sort of thing was virtually unheard of. If you like the "corn ball" antics of the later episodes then this DVD set may not be for you, but if you enjoy the more serious side of the Avengers, this season is a must have!
Thru the release of this DVD box set, we are able to view the seed of what blossomed into a cult series. Honor Blackman was unique amongst the Avengers girls. Her relationship with Steed is different from the femme fatales he was later to engage with in fighting crime. Unlike later female partners, Honor often berated Steed for endangering her in certain situations. Steed himself was a bit more roguish and not as smooth as his later incarnations thru the 60's and 70's. However, pls note that Honor does not appear in all the episodes.
However, first timers to the Avengers canon should realise that this is very much a diamond in the rough. Production values and sets are basic, rehearsals kept to a minimum therefore mistakes/line fluffs etc occur often and the fighting choreography is fairly poor. However, it's through this rawness that you can see the quality of material which would later be polished into the cult series it became and still is.
This is one of those moments when you can apply the adage - "Nostalgia at it's best".
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