Though officially on holiday in Canada, the New Avengers join the search for several missing Soviet and Canadian agents. KGB agent Karl Sminsky has achieved super human strength thanks to a... See full summary »





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Episode complete credited cast:
Gareth Hunt ...
Neil Vipond ...
Chuck Peters
Bill Starr ...
Peter Boretski ...
Yanci Bukovec ...
Jan Muszynski ...
Micheal Donaghue ...
Hartley (as Michael Donaghue)
Huge Man
Dwayne McLean ...
Patrick Sinclair ...
Ivan Levisanov


Though officially on holiday in Canada, the New Avengers join the search for several missing Soviet and Canadian agents. KGB agent Karl Sminsky has achieved super human strength thanks to a combination of martial arts. Now he is gathering a group of 'gladiators' to teach his secrets to. Written by The TV Archaeologist

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Release Date:

19 January 1979 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


(at around 35 mins) As Gambit drives his Toronto (black and white) Metropolitan Police car down the street in Toronto, Gambit drives past a genuine Toronto Police car (yellow). See more »


John Steed: I think all our wires are dangerously crossed. Now Chuck has lost two security men.
Chuck Peters: Right.
John Steed: And you have lost Colonel Sminsky and two men.
Boris Tarnokoff: Two, against our three? I win! Don't I?
John Steed: For the moment I think we're all losing.
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User Reviews

Army of Killers
9 April 2011 | by (Camden, NJ (The Forbidden Zone)) – See all my reviews

In the pre-credit sequence, Karl Sminsky tells his "students" that he started with 148 men, and narrowed it down to 4. The mission he's about to embark on requires only 2. How to choose? Simple. The 4 pair off and fight-- to the DEATH. Russian Soviet KGB are utterly ruthless, but isn't this just a colossal waste of finely-trained manpower?

"THE GLADIATORS" is the LAST really GREAT episode of this show. My best friend, who was really into Kung Fu movies and martial arts stuff in general, always loved this one. Sminsky (played by Louis Zorich-- I could hardly believe it when I found out he'd played Jamie's father in 35 episodes of MAD ABOUT YOU!) is one of the most cold-blooded, utterly ruthless villains in the entire history of the series. When one of his new trainees fails to show proper reflexes, he announces that "He can never go back; his vanity would have him talk, brag. He must be KILLED." With such an utter disregard for human life-- including his own men-- the aura of menace toward anyone else is absolutely palpable.

Meanwhile, Steed, Purdey & Gambit, "on holiday" (yeah, right) in Canada, investigate Sminsky, who was known to be studying various killing arts, before going missing. Known trouble-makers have also been going missing, and Steed puts two and two together.

One thing I find baffling is, considering this was filmed right after "COMPLEX", why there is no mention that Canadian Security is either in a new building, or the same building. This continues an equally baffling trend of the entire NEW AVENGERS series, in that so many episodes took place presumably within the SAME MI-5 headquarters offices, yet not once did we ever see a single recurring actor or character in those offices, apart from Steed, Purdey & Gambit. Are these organizations that big, or do they just have a high turn-over of employees?

One of the best scenes is when Steed & Purdey find themselves facing several of the new "students" at a country house. The thug in charge notes Purdey is "too thin & fragile", and might be "kept around for more pleasant things". Steed replies, "A comment like that might make Purdey annoyed." In the resulting mêlée, we discover the students have not quite mastered the techniques they're trying to learn yet.

The big climax is at the security building, where our heroes have to square off against first Sminsky's best men, then Sminsky himself. The sight of dented metal and smashed concrete has always stuck with me. When Sminsky finally readies himself to face off against Purdey's automatic pistol, Steed, so cool, so suave, so slick, calmly says, "I've seen that before. But I'm CURIOUS! How does it work against TWO weapons?" Even at this stage of the game, Patrick Macnee exudes charm & confidence, and shows why he's been a hero of mine for so long. And Purdey, so much more relaxed since the events of "OBSESSION", may never have been prettier.

If there's a pity, it's that this wasn't the LAST episode. If the show had ended TWO weeks sooner than it did, its ending might not have been saddled with such a deservedly-bad reputation. Near the end of the generally-good Tara King run, there were about 6 episodes IN A ROW that I consider among the worst of the entire series. Sadly, the last 2 Purdey & Gambit episodes managed to be even worse. But "THE GLADIATORS" is not to be missed!

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