Tuesday, December 13, 2011
The *Other* Avengers
Although I did not know it at the time, Emma Peel was not John Steed's first partner. I've never actually seen any of the first season (or "series," in British parlance), but at that time Steed's partner was Dr. Keel, played by Ian Hendry. After one year he was replaced by reluctant heroine Cathy Gale, played by Honor Blackman. I hadn't seen any of her episodes until *very* recently, but I knew who she was: Honor Blackman was the actress who played Pussy Galore in Goldfinger. My Dad was a huge spy fan (had you noticed?) and he took all of his kids with him to the James Bond movies.
Meanwhile Diana Rigg went on to make such movies as The Hospital, The Assassination Bureau, and, most notably, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, where her character ended up marrying James Bond! I always thought that if anybody would marry 007 it would have been Emma Peel, haha! Likewise, after "The Avengers" ended Patrick Macnee appeared as the new boss of UNCLE in the TV Move "The Return of the Man From UNCLE." He also appeared as James Bond's old friend in Roger Moore's last 007 picture, A View To A Kill.
In 1978 "The New Avengers" tried to recapture the magic, which come to think of it was probably one of the reasons CBS was showing the reruns. Patrick Macnee returned as Steed, now partnered with two other agents instead of one. However, JoAnna Lumley and Gareth Hunt were not attractive to the US audience, and the chemistry between the three leads was not as good as it had been between the two. The New Avengers, too, only lasted one year. In 1998 The Avengers movie was released. It starred Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman, and Sean Connery. It was a nice take on the Steed-Mrs. Peel adventures, but basically it was forgettable. It just goes to show that magic just can't be recreated once it's gone.
I leave you now with the famous theme song and closing credits from the Mrs. Peel era, written and performed by Mr. Laurie Johnson. This is the color version featuring Diana Rigg for the episode "Escape In Time," circa 1967.