The Avengers 7.8 – Noon Doomsday (further thoughts)

Something about last night’s episode of The Avengers didn’t sit well with me, and I finally figured out why. In the episode, Steed is unbelievably patronizing to Tara, telling her that she needs to be locked away because the criminals are too dangerous. We saw a hint of this in “All Done With Mirrors,” but that really read more like “Tara’s a junior agent and not ready to lead an assignment,” despite the expected chauvinism displayed by the male characters of the period.

But in “Noon Doomsday,” Steed flat out says that Tara is actually a danger to him. He won’t be able to win a battle against Kafka because he’ll be unfocused and worried about her. That’s hogwash, and deeply poor characterization on the part of the writer, Terry Nation. If Steed’s not treating his partner as an equal when the chips are down, there’s a problem. Insanely, Nation actually returned to this exact same trope about five years later in part four of the Doctor Who story “Planet of the Daleks”, in which Bernard Horsfall’s character chews out his girlfriend, played by Jane How, for somehow placing the male lead in the same tough position. He can’t be a he-man while he’s worried about his pretty young co-star, so the pretty young co-stars should stay out of man’s work.

In “Noon Doomsday,” there’s a reason for it, at least. Because this is a parody of High Noon, Tara is shoehorned into the Grace Kelly role, and Gary Cooper’s marshal was correct – in the film – to tell his young bride this was too dangerous and she’d get them both killed. Bending this scenario to make it fit the structure of High Noon also explains why three of the agents who are recuperating in this remote facility refuse to assist Steed. They represent the cowards in New Mexico who wouldn’t help their marshal against the killers who were riding into town. We can really only excuse either of these huge rips in the fabric of the program’s internal logic – or plain common sense – because this wouldn’t be a parody of High Noon if the three killers were going to come riding into town against a hero who has four people standing up beside him.

So it works within the confines of the hour. It still doesn’t make the chauvinism that Steed displays any less palatable, and if this is where Nation got the idea that resurfaced in “Planet of the Daleks,” then it certainly was a huge mistake.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “The Avengers 7.8 – Noon Doomsday (further thoughts)

  1. Speaking of Terry Nation, any plans to watch Blake’s 7? I’m reminded of it now because that show, like quite a few other Terry Nation projects, also featured some extremely dodgy plotting. I think the reason why all these years later it is still so very well regarded is because of the brilliant scripting, the majority of which was actually done by Chris Boucher.

  2. You mentioned Department S in the previous post, and it’s honestly the chauvinism that turns me off of that show. If only Rosemary Nichols wasn’t so useless, that could have been great. Strange Report also annoys me because Anneke Wills is badly underused – some stories she’s barely even there. I think The Champions is the best of all the Avengers imitators because Alexandra Bastedo is the only woman in all those shows who’s following in Diana Rigg’s footsteps.

    • I’ve only seen a couple of Department S episodes and Nichols didn’t have much to do in either of them, but I believe we’ll watch both that and The Champions down the road. I don’t think there’s enough in Strange Report for our son to really find common ground, but I like that one a lot. I will agree, though, that Anneke Wills doesn’t have anywhere near enough screen time in it.

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