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Showing posts from April, 2014

Spyder's Web: Spyder Secures a Main Strand

Yes, I know. This still isn't noticeably a post about The Corridor People <sigh>. I'm obviously going to have to come back to them. Instead it's actually happened - this is a blog about TV, & I hadn't decided what I would do when I got to the point of re-watching something I'd blogged about before (http://culttvblog.blogspot.com/2013/11/spyders-web-spyder-secures-main-strand.html) & wanted to write about it again. I've settled on another post. This is actually the second time I've been watching Spyder's Web since my original post, & I've reacted differently each time, the first by being unimpressed, & this time by warming to it all over again & thinking how good it is. This time round this episode strikes me as the best of the series - I think I found the plot somewhat over-involved last time, but that comes across as being the point this time. However this invites the obvious criticism that if it is confusing

Adam Adamant Lives!: The Terribly Happy Embalmers

You will notice that this is not a post about The Corridor People. Having seen all four episodes several times now, it is very apparent to me that I'm going to have to reflect on them at length before presuming to post on them here. I'm also going to have to do some background reading : I want to re-read some Joe Orton to see whether the dialogue really is Ortonesque. This may be complicated by the fact that the majority of the stock of the brand spanking new Library of Birmingham remains inaccessible ('Shambles!', thundered the Birmingham Post the other week). Suffice to say I am not ready for a detailed post on each episode yet. Meanwhile I haven't watched Adam Adamant for a while, so I'm going to cast a baleful eye over this episode. I like the story a lot, but it could be so much better. On the plus side it is perhaps the most Avengers-esque episode, with a plot very similar to The Undertakers. In fact Brian Clemens reworked this episode as Bizarre, the

The Corridor People - My First Impressions

My usual custom is to blog about tv shows episode-by-episode. I've blogged about every episode of two shows - The Prisoner & Spyder's Web - but this wasn't ever really my aim, it just happened that I wanted to run through The Prisoner thinking about it from a particular point of view, & Spyder's Web also has relatively few episodes so that I suddenly found myself writing about all of them. Actually I don't doubt that I shall return to both of these series. In the case of The Corridor People, there were only ever four episodes, all of which survive, so writing coherently about all of them shouldn't be that difficult. I say *shouldn't* because I find I'm having to write a separate post before I start on the episodes because I'm trying & failing to come to an overview of the series. I have now watched all four episodes - not back to back - & am struggling to decide their effect on me. This post will therefore probably be rather disj

The Avengers: Chorus of Frogs (Venus Smith was an Avengers Girl)

This is the final Venus Smith episode in Series 2 of The Avengers. I get the impression, at least judging from the relative lack of critical hammering I can find online, that it is perhaps the most popular. I find this strange, because personally I've always found it *very* difficult to get a handle of any sort on this episode - I'm hoping that this may be because I've been watching it rather passively, & certainly one of the reasons I started blogging about TV was to make me watch it in a different, more attentive, way. Not the least interesting thing for me about this episode is the commentary by Julie Stevens on my boxed set. She makes a number of interesting points, from the point of view of this series of posts considering how Venus Smith stands as an Avengers girl. First from my point of view is that she defines two different Venus Smiths, defined by the hair, a more mature one in the first two Venus episodes, then the younger-acting one of the remaining ones.

The Avengers: Man in the Mirror (Venus Smith was an Avengers Girl)

This is perhaps the episode which may be most resonant for many people as showing most fully the nature of the organisation he works for. Previously Steed has met his boss in bars & on beaches, but he clearly has a new boss (One-Six) whom he as clearly doesn't get on with, surely an experience many of us have had when a perfectly good job has been ruined by the appointment of an idiot above us (I'm not bitter & twisted in the slightest, & in case you're wondering she left under a cloud after two grievances & a formal complaint). In this case it is plain that One-Six's priority is his particular way of doing things rather than getting the best out of his agents. Here Steed is shown up as a lone wolf rather than a company man. I like that in the later series this morphs into him being grand old man figure in the organisation, to whom trainees look up. On the other hand I love the way a prostitute hangs around outside the building where the meeting is -

The Man From UNCLE: The Summit-Five Affair

This is the episode that starts the fourth series of TMFU, often called more serious than the preceding one, which may have overdone the camp & slapstick slightly. My personal feeling is that the larger-than-life elements of the last series are not completely missing here. Not the least eccentric thing about this episode is the agent Harry Beldon, played by Albert Dekker. I love his characterisation of his frankly ridiculous character enormously. I was even more surprised to look up Dekker & find the cause of his death was auto-erotic asphyxiation! Beldon is so far from the image of what a secret agent should be, that I think it is impossible to deny the high camp element of this series. His character is almost - I'm finding it difficult to find the right word - a spoof rather than caricature of the whole spy genre, Avengers, Bond, & everyone, from the moment he gets out of the car drinking champagne. To my mind this caricature of the spy genre is made more crashingly o

Police Surgeon: Easy Money

Police Surgeon, which ran for one series beginning in September 1960, is usually trumpeted as the predcessor of The Avengers. It received a lukewarm reception & was axed after its first run for reasons which differ depending on whom you listen to. The production was done by many names familiar to us from the early days of The Avengers, & of course Ian Hendry. It is even implied that The Avengers was thrown together as a vehicle for Hendry's star quality (source of this potted history: http://theavengers.tv/police/history.htm). I have one colossal problem with this show, & it effectively prevents me taking it at all seriously: it's the theme music. All it makes me think of is strippers. Having safely got that out of my system hopefully I can concentrate on the actual programme. I don't object to this show at all. It is plainly, to my mind, only a predecessor of the Avengers in that it comes out of the same gritty underworld milieu. It is *so* much of its t

The Avengers: School for Traitors (Venus Smith was an Avengers Girl)

The opening scene of this Venus Smith episode may perhaps encapsulate what is wrong with all of them: I wasn't around in universities in the early sixties, but whatever the students were dancing to, I'm damn sure it wasn't the Varsity Drag. The song comes from a 1927 musical called Good News, & since this would be associated with their parents' generation, it would have been terribly demode. I don't get this total feeling of wrongness with the other songs used in the Venus Smith episodes: even if they are old songs they're suitable to their nightclub milieu. The wrongness extends to everything else in this episode: the plot is outlandish, the characters unsympathetic, it simply fails to maintain interest. The university setting falls flat on its face - to me it feels like the idea of a university of someone who hadn't been one. Since James Mitchell, the writer, had been to Oxford, this idea is just plain wrong, but nonetheless it remains for me an

The Avengers: Box of Tricks (Venus Smith was an Avengers Girl)

It was only after my last post in this series attempting to rehabilitate Venus Smith as an Avengers girls was up on the blog, I realised that I had totally omitted to make any attempt to rehabilitate her reputation in that post! I have decided to leave it as it is because my omission may point towards why she is usually *not* included in the list of Avengers girls: she is largely ornamental & a pawn for Steed in that episode. She just fits in with other nondescript characters, in complete contrast to, say, Mrs Peel, who you couldn't conceivably miss under any circumstances. My hypothesis therefore is that Venus's disappearance from the roll call of Avengers girls is partly caused by her relatively paltry parts in the scripts. I also think Julie Stevens has a quite dfferent presence from Diana Rigg, Honor Blackman, & even Joanna Lumley - they all have a presence that it is impossible to miss. There's nothing wrong with it, but Stevens's presence in the introdu

The Avengers: The Removal Men (Venus Smith was an Avengers Girl)

I'm a bit nonplussed how to start with this one, if I'm honest. I can rave about The Decapod until the cows come home, but this episode begins to confirm the commonly-negative opinions of the Venus Smith episodes for me. In terms of character development, this episode has lots of meat to chew over. For a start, assuming the events of The Decapod are not that far behind her, what the hell is Venus doing having anything to do with Steed? - she actually says 'Oh no, (with the impication of not you),' at one point, but then proceeds to let him put her in mortal danger instead of having nothing to do with him for life, which would be the natural thing to do. Venus - despite a blond wig better suited to a forty year old - comes across as so sweet & na├»ve in this episode.  Unfortunately her naivety also puts Steed in danger: the irony is that their interaction means it is actually Steed's character that is most elaborated in this episode. Leaving his colossal misj

The Avengers: The Decapod (Venus Smith was an Avengers Girl)

I have projected for some time a series of posts based on the character of Venus Smith, who appears in six episode in the second series only. I've entitled this series Venus Smith was an Avengers Girl to make my approach to the subject about as obvious as it can get. Who knows, I may even next do some posts on Jon Rollason was an Avengers Girl! Joking apart - the existence of other partners to Steed in the second series gives the lie to the common perception that The Avengers can be divided into Gale, Peel, & King eras, & that's it. In fact there is a far more complex relationship between the protagonists of this show. Of course Steed was only ever a rather shadowy, louche figure to start off with, appearing out of nowhere to push Dr Keel in the right direction. A similar dynamic pertains with Jon Rollason - interesting how the doctor theme was continued. I like the series 2 episodes before Mrs Gale became a fixture in series 3, where Steed has several different part