Culture

Sgathaich:The Avengers – Tunnel of Fear

SgathaichNow many of you may be asking:

“Wait a moment I don’t recall a marvel movie with this name!

Certain more knowledgeable people may then be saying “wait a moment this series isn’t science fiction! (for those that remember my pattern of reviews and I thank you for that).

Well in later series: – they fight a mind controlling plant from Mars that eats human brains, a man trying to frame an invasion from Venus with a laser, a man training an army of astronaut soldiers and a secret underground city of Nazis! (If that’s not science fiction please tell me where you live it sounds fascinating).

Of course all these are in the future (literally as this is me reviewing an episode from the first season)  here it’s much more down to earth espionage. So those that have seen the classic tv series from the 60’s lets take a look at what took place in the first season.

The Avengers 1First I must say that most of season 1 is missing. This episode on the DVD had a sticker openly saying it was missing for 55 years! I can’t hate the BBC for having done this, back then tv was a new medium and for many years no one knew what to do about repeats. Often it was just treated like a play you see it once and that’s that.

In hindsight we lost some of the really inventive years of British television and some works from Nigel Kneale that I would have loved to see (but we do have Quatermass and the Pit so we have that masterpiece ). As mentioned this episode was missing for 55 years and almost all of season 1 is gone. Anyone who likes classic Dr Who this is nothing new and really why I bring it up here since I often review classic Who.

For those that like me know of the series through some of the later seasons (yep now talking about the actual episode) the dramatic differences of season 1 come right to head. This isn’t the strange surreal show I knew from when I saw it on tv now and then. Heck series icon Steed isn’t the main character. Instead we have Dr David Keel. A much more ordinary man who often finds himself pulled into the strange world of espionage by accident and encountering the mysterious Steed. Keel is often oblivious to Steed’s motives or missions until the very end, usually ending up in the same place on a connected reason.

Case and point the story starts proper as a wounded man stumbles into Keel’s work place covered in blood and saying that he doesn’t want them to put him to sleep. While talking to Keel, who though concerned for the man does need to know what happened to him, finds out the man Harry Black just escaped from prison having according to him been framed for stealing the money from the carnival he works at. Cue the happy but mysterious Steed just happening to wander in. When hearing the man used to work at the carnival Steed turns rather more dark –  seems something is happening and he suspects the carnival is involved.

So there we have the plot.  Keel works to clear Harry’s name while the mysterious Steed has a mission of his own, that he tells neither Keel nor us till the very end. Now this change in tone in a much more serious espionage setting as there is a genuine mystery that isn’t completely bonkers is very different from the later series –  though in a good way. It makes me want to see the other older episodes that exist out there, of season 2 and 3 – See how the series evolves into the one I know. Though that being said Steed’s character is still clearly Steed.

It’s Steed  a strange man who knows far more than he lets on and seems constantly in control.

It’s always interesting returning to the early days of a show long before it grew into what it became. It would be like people who only ever saw new Who ( modern Dr Who) and show them the first doctor story “the Aztecs” . At one point jarring but then intriguing.

I have heard it’s not the best episode of season 1 but there are so few left we take what we can get. Still I enjoyed it for the most part, and laughed when Steed disguised himself as a man showing off girls in Arabian outfits.
Rating: spear  spear spear spear


 

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