The Avengers (1961–1969)
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The Medicine Men 

Steed discovers that somebody is flooding the market with cheap imitations of medical products being manufactured by the Willis-Sopwith Pharmaceutical Company. Furthermore, there is a plan ... See full summary »

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Episode complete credited cast:
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Geoffrey Willis
Newton Blick ...
John Willis
Harold Innocent ...
Frank Leeson
Joy Wood ...
Miss Dowell
Monica Stevenson ...
Fay
John Crocker ...
Taylor
Peter Hughes ...
Edwards
Brenda Cowling ...
Masseuse
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Steed discovers that somebody is flooding the market with cheap imitations of medical products being manufactured by the Willis-Sopwith Pharmaceutical Company. Furthermore, there is a plan to distribute poisoned medicines in an oil-rich Middle Eastern country to start a revolution and drive out the British companies there. Written by don @ minifie-1

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15 March 1991 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Air date 23/11/1963 same as Doctor Who Malcolm Hulke who wrote this episode was also a writer for Doctor Who See more »

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Frank Leeson: [to Taylor] Would you like a drink?
Miss Dowell: No, he does not want a drink and neither do you.
[takes the glass from his hand]
Frank Leeson: Oh, all right, we'll all be miserable together.
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From Science Fiction Into Spy-Fi
12 September 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

John Steed asks Mrs. Cathy Gale's help with a business espionage case. It seems that some Asian firm – Hong Kong, Taiwan or Korean, Steed doesn't know – is manufacturing a knock-off of an important British medical drug, and selling them to a former British Arabic colony. Steed's agency isn't only concerned with the lost revenue for the English corporation, but also the fact that these perpetrators are undermining the British government's attempts to negotiate oil contracts, treaties and other business arrangements with the former colony.

Cathy uses an unseen friend to translate the Arabic dialect for her, and does some initial investigation of the British medical firm posing as an efficiency expert. (This was Cathy's first try as an efficiency expert – an undercover role that Mrs. Emma Peel would use a few times.) It is while at the firm that Mrs. Gale discovers that a more heinous plot is under foot.

This is another Malcolm Hulke written episode. Although he also wrote pieces involving Mrs. Peel and Tara King, he wrote mainly for Mrs. Gale, including one the best televised science fiction episodes, The White Dwarf. This is not in that class. For one, pharmaceuticals aren't all that sexy of a science fiction plot. Secondly, you could tell that the producers weren't all that satisfied with the direction of the script.

It seems that Kim Mills, the director, is doing all that she can to minimize the science fiction elements of the story…and yes, they come up with more of a spy-fi centered story (which is probably what you would want for a show about British spies)…but a very boring one. There are a lot of plot mistakes that come from changing the genre of the story. No compelling explanation as to why this drug is needed is given. Yes, it can put you to sleep, but yeah? It is not a Statin or Viagra. Sleeping drugs in the sixties were very common. Many Arabic companies were producing their own opiates. And focusing on the knock-off aspects of the story is a real drag.

Plus, the villain in the piece starts off as a petty thief, but some of the information that Cathy stumbles upon upgrades his/her (sorry, but telling you who the villain is would be a spoiler) activities to that of a megalomaniac. That upgrade would have worked well in a science fiction episode, but falls flat in a spy-fi tale. Well defined, established villains are needed in spy-fi's...like the U.S.S.R., Spectre, or a nuclear armed Nazi.

Monica Stevenson provides the best acting of the supporting characters as Fay, the two-timing model. There weren't that many stand out performances. And unlike Gale's, Steed's undercover turn was forgettable.

After trying their best to integrate different types of stories into plots of other Gale story lines, I'm confused as to why the production team chopped up a sci-fi story. (Although, there might be a reasonable explanation: At the time of this broadcast, Sydney Newman, the creator of The Avengers, had already announced he was leaving, and was being sued by ABC. Also, ABC had brought back Brian Clemons and made him Co-Creator for the show. Maybe, there was a lot of backroom drama going on.)


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