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|Index||16 reviews in total|
Patrick MacNee made a welcome return, in The New Avengers. This time,
he had two assistants, Purdy and Mike Gambit. Gambit was supposed to
handle the action, while Steed was more in the background, but Patrick
MacNee soon set this right. The stories were a mixed bag, as the
formula fell prey to time and finance. Also, the surreal nature of the
60's was replaced by the relevance of the 70's.
MacNee was in fine form, especially after he dropped some weight and showed that he was still able to hold his own with his young upstarts. He could still charm a lion into giving up its kill and shaving its mane, while dazzling the ladies of any age.
Gareth Hunt was a bit "hit-or-miss" as Mike Gambit. He lacked Steed's charm and was more of tough guy, which didn't mesh as well with the series formula. Steed got all of the best lines, so Gambit was left to scowl and punch. He was good with the action, but would have been better suited to a more realistic series.
Joanna Lumley was a treat as Purdy. She was funny, charming, and a good fighter, the perfect embodiment of Steed's female partner. She had a miscievious nature and a stunning look. It's hard to believe that the beautiful and likable Purdy would later become the irrepressible Patsy Stone. Well, it would be if Joanna Lumley were less of an actress.
The series was uneven, handicapped by budget and a lack of imagination. The best episodes were in the first series and hewed closest to the old formula.
Perhaps time had passed the series by, but they made a valiant effort. Personal favorites include The Eagle's Nest, House of Cards, The Last of the Cybernauts, Target, and Dirtier by the Dozen. The series was hard to catch in the US, playing late night on CBS. Now, thanks again to A&E, The New Avengers live again on DVD. Still waiting for those extras, though.
Love that lion/Union Jack symbol.
Neo-nazis maquerading as Trappist Monks, killer robots, a man carrying
deadly disease yet remaining immune, a shooting range that fires back, a
machine that steals minds, government ministers programmed to
a deadly Russian computer disguised as the Canadian National Security
building!! Yes the Avengers were back in a big way. Well, they would have
been were it not for terrible scheduling in the UK and the anti-violence
lobby in the USA...
The New Avengers was a laudable attempt to recapture past glories with plots as offbeat as its classic 1960s ancestor. With many of the original crew, higher production values and a determination to make the stories even pacier, The New Avengers couldn't fail... could it?
Patrick Macnee was back as suave top agent John Steed and old fans eagerly anticipated the return of their favourite female partner, Diana Rigg's Emma Peel. However it was not to be - the actress having made it clear she had had quite enough of the show a decade previously. The Avengers without Mrs Peel?! Surely it could never work...?
In her place came Joanna Lumley as the tough, resourceful, witty, beautiful and ultra-feminine Purdey. Easily a worthy successor to Emma.... though most old fans would never admit it!
In an unexpected move, a third member of the team was introduced. As Patrick Macnee was now that much older, the producers understandably felt a younger man was required to carry out much of Steed's "heavy duty" work. Gareth Hunt, relatively new to acting at the time, was introduced as tough but quiet ex-Para Mike Gambit. The presence of the third character has probably caused more debate than any other element of The New Avengers!
In some ways the use of a three players put paid to any believable sexual tension between the characters. Clearly Steed was too old for Purdey and, unfortunately, the humorous sexual subtlety he had shared with previous co-stars was replaced by rather obvious, belaboured innuendo between Gambit and Purdey.
Perhaps the biggest fault of the series in terms of the characterisations was that previously Steed had known he didn't have to worry about his partners when they went into battle. With the new series, although Purdey was portrayed as being independent and deadly as her predecessors, Steed always seemed to feel he needed to protect her.
Nevertheless all three actors clearly shared a marvellous bond of friendship working together and handled their roles with conviction, invention and style... though, of course, never taking themselves too seriously!
As this was the 1970s, it was felt the action scenes needed to be toughened up and the knockabout fun of the original show was replaced with deadly jousts - particularly when Gambit was involved. Nevertheless Purdey's lethal fighting style (essentially based on the French 'Panache' technique) imbued many of her own fight scenes with a good dose of humour. Unfortunately this tougher nature would later prove to be a handicap to American sales.
Either way it has to be said that the action scenes were superbly staged - particularly with its use of crafty camera angles and clipped editing - and, twenty-five years on, we have still to see a British show surpass it in this area. And all credit to Lumley and Hunt who insisted on handling much of their own tremendous stuntwork. (Indeed the original show's use of stunt doubles was often embarrassingly obvious!)
With excellent storylines and good exposure in the UK media, the first season did very well, despite ITV's inability to find the programme a proper networked slot.
However The New Avengers was ultimately doomed. Part-financed by French company IDTV ("A load of crooks" as producer Brian Clemens described them), promised money never appeared and a Canadian company was brought in to prop up the production. Somewhat inevitably this led to demands for several episodes to be filmed in Canada. At this point Brian Clemens found himself virtually forced to hand over the series to a Canadian team who promptly demonstrated they didn't have a clue about what The Avengers was about. After just twenty-six episodes the show was brought to a halt. And when American broadcasters deemed the programme too violent to be screened in a primetime slot, clearly the series would be gone for good.
Looking back now, although The New Avengers will never be seen as an outright improvement over its forebear, it largely succeeded in its own right. In many ways, though, it was a victim of its times, particularly that of the British economy and the appalling fashions of the day. Although it undeniably had some poor episodes, when The New Avengers was good (as it often was), it was GREAT! Play that funky music, white boy!
The New Avengers, seven years after the original series stopped. Three instead of Two, 70's instead of 60's, Flares instead of slacks. Those are the differences in the two brilliant programmes. Steed is now in his 50's and fatter and slower, Gambit is a suave action man played by Gareth Hunt with excellent wit and charm, He is the action man of the series partly because Steed is old. Purdey the new girl played by Joanna Lumley looks stunning as a sexy super spy who combats crime with Gambit. Sexual tension also builds up between them. 26 eposides of pure action, drama, comedy and style. The first eposide is one of the best, with a guest appearance from Peter Cushing, battling against Neo Nazi's in Scotland. Yet the last eposide was one of the worst in the series, filmed in Canada the team has to keep a hand print safe on the top of a car. A sad demise of such an excellent series. Guest appearances from Peter Cushing, Lewis Collins, Martin Shaw and others. Cool action scenes and car chases. Laurie Johnson provides a superb incidental music score. Brian Clemens makes the most of what he has and makes excellent stories and narrative.This is a very good series that has turned into a cult classic, a classic in any crime and action fans list. 10 out of 10.
If you were a child of the 1970s, then you will probably remember this
as the definitive Avengers, and find the original rather odd. It's not
to say I dislike the original, but when I watched The New Avengers in
the 1970s, it had that sense of realism and style that was very
formative in my younger days.
Technically, the 1970s saw lighter cameras and greater use of location filming, two things that made The New Avengers different from its forebear. These enabled the series to be grittier, in keeping with the mood of the time. Preserving the fanciful, "British Batman" ideals of the 1960s' series would have gone sharply against the realism that viewers demanded in the 1970s. Britons (and plenty of people worldwide) wanted to see Britain, not a studio mock-up of it. And car chases were de rigueur. On these counts, The New Avengers delivered.
Purdey, not Emma Peel, was the first strong female character I knew on television. Columbia Pictures Television's Police Woman seemed phoney with Angie Dickinson getting her gun out of her handbag; it was Joanna Lumley's willingness to do her own action sequences that made her Purdey character more convincing. The fact she did her high kicks while wearing Laura Ashley, and not encased in PVC, did not seem strange; it was more her short hair that naice girls on telly did not have.
And because I was introduced to the Avengers' mystique through this series, I have always been used to the idea of Patrick Macnee's John Steed being the elder statesman. The suggestive nature of his relationships with his female partners in the 1960s seemed inappropriate when I viewed The Avengers in re-runs (and Macnee once quipped that he felt John Steed did consummate his relationships 'continuously and in his spare time'). The Gambit character played by Gareth Hunt was more my idea of the action-oriented British gent who had spent time in the military, though I recall both being relatively wooden, save for a few episodes.
The spy story lines were entertaining, and I understand the original series' fans being less than impressed. But they were a clever differentiation from the typical cop shows of the decade, and even though there were some corners cut (using old footage of Diana Rigg in one episode), I never felt cheated by The New Avengers. The thriller style that Brian Clemens and his team introduced to this series kept viewers on the edge of their seats, and it must have been good enough to warrant a second season at the timeeven if the latter was partly made in France and Canada. Even then, the episodes were not as bad as some have made outContinental filming, in particular, gave me one of my earliest impressions of Europe. I don't think I had seen anything made in Canada prior to The New Avengers.
In many respects, The New Avengers was more a forerunner to The Professionalsone of the greatest British TV actioners madethan a successor to The Avengers. It had the same producers and very similar crews. By coincidence, The Professionals' Lewis Collins and Martin Shaw guest-starred together in one episode. And, like The Professionals, it gave the sense that after an hour, you got great value. The same could not be said for most TV series of this genre today, made to please a network and an accounting firm rather than the audience.
This is an apology for all the cursing and bad-mouthing that I had done
before having actually seen this show. For those who have not watched the
New Avengers, you may feel the same way. How can there be Avengers
Emma Peel? I went in with a skeptical mind, and came out feeling ashamed.
There is nothing wrong with these episodes (I should say that I have not
seen them all) that is as bad as what has been said about
Certainly, it will be said that I am an American, and that I would never see any harm in fist-fights and coarse manners. I enjoy every episode of the refinement that the 1960's Steed brought to the show. I feel that the New Avengers is not about reviving the prior series, but about giving it some new direction. Not many will agree that the two series have much in common, but what is there is done well. Patrick Macnee is still there, but he is seen as more of a fatherly figure than that of a partner. The rest of the cast is superb, though there are several serious gaffs.
If you are an Avengers fan expecting to find Emma Peel in her leather outfit toasting champaign with a brolley toting Steed, you won't be satisfied by this show. If you do have the time, and are willing to be unbiased in your opinion, please try this one out. It surprised me, and I feel as thought it may surprise you too.
Loved the 60's version a real mind trip and lots of fun with Steed and Emma...the only reason I viewed The New Avengers was to watch the resourceful, witty, beautiful and ultra-feminine Purdey played by Joanna Lumley, plain and simple.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The New Avengers"was my introduction to the "Avengers" world and I thought Patrick Macnee was great as John Steed,the perfect English gentleman,with bowler hat and umbrella and his charm,in no way making him less able to defend his country. Joanna Lumley was excellent as high kicking Purdey,she holds her own against Mrs Peel,she is very funny when telling Steed,he doesn't need to be so protective to women "as we're liberated now!". I liked Gareth Hunt,his presence is often treated as an interloper by "Avengers" fans but the fact is if it had just been Steed and Purdey,with Steed doing the stunts(or a very obvious stand in as in the Emma Peel/Tara King eras when Macnee's stand in for fights,was clearly seen)it would have looked bizarre. The rapport between Purdey and Gambit is spot on,I love the way they chatter or bicker away in the middle of an action scene,there were changes in the 2nd season after Patrick Macnee complained and poor old Gambit is put on the back burner,in the 2nd season,in the last ever episode,in Canada(the one about the secret base)the closing shot doesn't even feature Gambit. the stories themselves do vary in story quality,the first series started with "Nest Of Eagles"about Nazi's alive and well in Scotland all three New Avengers work great together,Purdey's high kicking,beauty and great humour working great with Macnee's charm and Gambit's 70s gritty edge. Other stories include "House of Cards"about an enemy agent faking his death,it features a humorous scene of a lady guest of Steed's looking at pictures of Cathy Gale,Emma Peel and Tara King. As the lady asks about each Avenger,Steed describes them as excellent or"faithful,reliable" then on Tara King,he says she had a "real kick in her"and he had to have her shot,it turns out,Steed thought she was asking about his three favourite horses! The first series comes across well with varied stories a man whose touch can kill,the dreaded Cybernauts return in one of the best stories,a man who can control birds by music,the first season ends with "Dirtier By The Dozen" about crazed mercenaries,the closing shot of Purdey rescued from a minefield by helicopter by Steed,on a rope ladder,drinking champagne,is one ofthe times,we see some of the old Avengers magic. The second series is more varied,Emma Peel makes an appearance in "K Is For Killing"(using old footage of Diana Rigg and a voice dub) when an old case comes tolight again as enemy soldiers are reanimated,its a good story and the Paris scene really give the series so much needed glamour. The Paris stories work well,the last four episodes of "The New Avengers" are set in Canada,one of them "Complex" about a crazed computer is one of the better ones,"Gladiators" about super powered assassins is good too,the real dull on is "Emily",its like a really bad "Charlie's Angels" episode and is a real turkey. I'll always have a soft spot for The New Avengers",the three leads are excellent,(I met Gareth Hunt,a few years ago,what a nice guy)Joanna Lumley is superb,Patrick Macnee is excellent as ever,Gareth Hunt is a welcome and necessary character,there were mistakes made,like not showing Steed driving his classic cars anymore,too much attention on car chases and violence(but it was the 70s)if maybe more writers from "The Avengers" had been involved maybe it would have been better liked by "Avengers" fans but I like it and I'm glad it was made.
The idea of The New Avengers was to combine the idiosyncrasies of the old
show, yet update it to compete with the then current cop show genre.
capture the audience of middle America.
Ultimately it failed commercially and where The Avengers, with Steed and Emma Peel, led The New Avengers followed. The strengths were some cracking stories and performances from the three lead actors (special mention to Joanna Lumley - a worthy successor to Emma Peel). Weaknesses were some rushed and hurried plots and a continued lack of funding.
By following the trends of the 1970s it became far more dated than it's more stylish predecessor.
Knock me over with a feather! At first I was not sure what I was watching
late night Detroit or Windsor television -- then it dawned. I made it my
business every Friday night after the news to catch THE NEW AVENGERS, but
probably saw little more than half.
No, it was not the old time religion, because the old chemistry would be impossible to create. This programme stood on its own, suffering in comparison only if one wanted the more of same. THE NEW AVENGERS was "bigger" (which does not make it better), less wacky, and to employ the amorphous, less artistic. The budgets of the 1960s were no doubt modest, forcing more creativity.
None the less, it was well cast with Steed as more of an elder statesman -- not "old" at 54 as another commentator was unkind enough to allege. Purdy was not Rigg or Blackman, but then she created her own viable character as a woman, much distinguished from the "youth market" Tara of 1968-9.
I make no comment upon individual episodes, because it would not be fair given the time elapsed, for me 1980 at latest. Having no cable television, nor being a videophile, I have not seen THE NEW AVENGERS since.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It saddened me to hear Patrick Macnee in a recent television interview
dismissing 'The New Avengers' as 'awful'. I hate to disagree with the
great man, but I thought it a cracking show, and a worthy successor to
Five years after 'The Avengers' ended, Macnee was reunited with Linda Thorson for a French television commercial for champagne. It led to finance being found for a brand new series. Brian Clemens and Albert Fennell knew the show had to move with the times. It would have been foolish pretending it was still the '60's. The '70's flavour of 'The New Avengers' is what die-hard fans most object to. But it is a different '70's to the one most of us remember. This is 'Avengerland' '70's style.
Joanna Lumley's high-kicking 'Purdey' was easily the best 'Avengers' girl since Diana Rigg's 'Mrs.Peel'. Her haircut caused a sensation at the time. Former 'Upstairs, Downstairs' star Gareth Hunt was brought on board to play 'Mike Gambit', a Bondish action man. He was good in the role, and one hopes that had a third season been made his character would have been developed. Gambit fancied Purdey ( and who can blame him? ) but she chose to stay clear of an out-and-out affair with him.
Steed became more of a 'Mother' figure, but even so was still recognisably the star of the show. 'Dead Men Are Dangerous' shined a light on his mysterious past, reintroducing an old enemy from his Eton days.
Brian Clemens, Terence Feely and Dennis Spooner wrote some fine scripts. 'Target', 'Dirtier By The Dozen', 'Sleeper', 'Last Of The Cybernauts?' and 'Angels Of Death' are on my list of all-time favourite 'Avengers' episodes.
When the first episode ( 'The Eagle's Nest' ) went out, Peter Phillips, television critic of 'The Sun', tore the new show to shreds, and invited readers to send in their views. Four out of the five letters printed the following week agreed with him. The one dissenting letter said: "I found 'The New Avengers' a refreshing change from sickening violence of the sort to be found in such shows as 'The Sweeney'". The correspondent was bang on the money. Public tastes had changed, this was the era of 'Starsky & Hutch' and 'Kojak'.
Furthermore, I.T.V. sabotaged its chances of success by denying it a network slot ( though they allocated one to the horrendous 'Charlie's Angels'. Funny old world, isn't it? ).
Some of the later episodes, such as 'K Is For Kill' and 'Complex' were filmed abroad, and while noticeably different in quality to those shot in England, managed to be stylish and entertaining.
After two seasons, it disappeared for good. A 'Sunday People' article in 1979 claimed that a U.S. network had agreed to fund a third series, provoking the amusing image of Steed in stetson and six-guns, but sadly it turned out to be another false dawn.
Whatever the show's faults, it was marvellous to have Pat Macnee back as Steed - even if only for a short time. There have been far worse 'comeback' series, check out 'C15: The New Professionals' if you do not believe me.
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