Learning from Yourself: The Avengers (TV Showcase #35)

Calm yourself, dear reader. I am not talking about The Avengers movie chain, or anything related to Marvel’s media takeover. For the record, I’m not a fan of any Marvel movies anymore, but that’s a whole different topic. No, this is the rightful bearer of such a noble name, and it comes from the other side of the pond. I won’t be discussing much it’s amazing acting, writing, directing, music, plots, scifi devices, or anything else that’s already been covered. I want to touch on where nobody wants to go in regards to this show. So put on your bowlers, because “we’re needed”, so let’s take a look at “The Avengers”.

“The Avengers” was created in 1961 by Sydney Newman (creator of “Doctor Who”), and the show ran for 161 hour-long episodes over six seasons, ending in 1969, with one remake movie in 1998. The show focused on one John Steed, a respected agent for British Intelligence, and a classy gentleman of old-fashioned lifestyles. This would be contrasted with a female companion who was much younger and took to the sixties lifestyle more easily. But that’s not what I wanted to talk about that the show did well.

Most fans, what few there are left, of “The Avengers” will remember Steed and his extremely attractive sidekick, Emma Peel (named for the term “M-appeal”, or “man appeal”), who worked together for three seasons. Serious fans might remember Steed’s one-season companion after Mrs. Peel, named Tara King, but most won’t. Even so, however, Emma and Tara’s eras only cover three of the six seasons. So what about the first three?

Well, that’s the area “Avengers” fans don’t want to talk about, but I will. Because, you see, the first three seasons of “The Avengers” were done on an amateurish level. I’m not talking about the acting or writing or directing; everything was fine on that count; I’m talking about the actual filming of the show. With the ITV network’s low low budget, scenes of the show were often done in one take, which could go on for maybe ten minutes at times. And because of this, the show was very slow-moving, despite its good writing. Countless times an actor coughed or tripped over his lines, and it wasn’t cut; three times I caught a fly crawling around on the camera; and once I saw a clear shot of a cameraman on a mounted camera in the next room through an open door! As I watched, I thought, “This is the show that I’d read good things about?” But then I got to season four.

You see, in the midst of season three, “The Avengers” was bought for a large sum by ABC. Yep, the same ABC that you and I watch here in America. However, while ABC owned the show, they allowed it to be run from England by the same cast and crew. But what they did was learn from all the mistakes of the past three seasons, and as is fitting for an American show, they poured in alot of money. The show was so different it was essentially relaunched, and Emma Peel was introduced for the first time. Additionally, the show aired in America and England, the first English show to air in US primetime. ABC definitely lerned from ITV, and the “Avengers” crew definitely learned from themselves, and rather than be stubborn about the way the show had been run, they used their new funds to use the new methods that they had not been able to before. So, yeah, it worked out better than Fox and Doctor Who.

I’f highly suggest watching “The Avengers” if you ever get the chance, and then you might observe for yourself how much the crew learned from themselves to make the show better. What do you think?

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