Tag Archives: cybernauts

The Avengers 6.1 – Return of the Cybernauts

A quickish word before beginning: the DVDs, along with the books written about The Avengers in the 1980s, and the websites of today, all call the color Diana Rigg stories “season five” and the Linda Thorson stories “season six.” For a while in the 1990s, the pendulum of accurate research pointed the right way: the 24 Rigg stories were produced and transmitted in two separate batches, thus making seven seasons. The Thorson stories were produced in two separate batches and transmitted that way in the US, but shown as one long season in the UK.

Season five is the batch of 16 color episodes that we’ve already seen. These were made between September 1966 and April 1967, and shown between January and May 1967 in both the UK and the US.

Season six is made of the final eight Rigg episodes and the first seven Thorson episodes. These were made between June 1967 and March 1968, with a considerable… let’s call it a hiccup in production during about the last seven weeks of ’67, which we’ll discuss later. In the UK, the first eight of these were shown as the sixth season, from September to November 1967. All fifteen went out as one season in America from January to May 1968. I number them using their first broadcast date, whether in the US or the UK.

Season seven is made of the other 26 Thorson adventures. These were made over the course of a year, from the spring of 1968 to March 1969. The US and UK broadcasts of these both went from September 1968 to May 1969, with the US finishing first and the UK broadcasts including the seven previous Thorson stories dropped in at what seems like random intervals.

Yes, I know you don’t agree, so you don’t have to waste time trying to tell me.

Anyway, so September 1967 came around and The Avengers were back on British television with a big season premiere guest starring Peter Cushing and featuring, like the title says, the return of the Cybernauts, one of the very, very few antagonists to come back for a second engagement in this show. Really, it’s just them, Ambassador Brodny, and a group called Intercrime that nobody remembers.

Cushing plays Paul Beresford, the brother of Michael Gough’s Professor Armstrong from the first Cybernaut story, and he is just brilliant, smooth and debonair in every scene. Watch how Macnee and Rigg afford him the space to be the star villain. They share several scenes together because their characters don’t initially know he’s one of their diabolical masterminds, and they play off him. They’re the guests on The Paul Beresford Show. It’s amazingly good and generous acting to let Cushing lead his scenes.

The story, written by Philip Levene, is huge fun. It’s got lots of great location filming, and the Cybernaut – it’s just the one this time – gets to rampage through several scenes and break lots of people’s necks. Everybody gets great dialogue, and the villain’s deeply sadistic plan had our son extraordinarily worried for Mrs. Peel. He denied it, of course, but he hid his face and curled up in his mom’s lap when things look bleak and Peter Cushing is being incredibly evil at the end. But as much as he enjoyed the Cybernaut’s killer karate chops and the big climactic fight, his absolute favorite moment came in the tag scene, when Steed wires a toaster the wrong way and blasts two slices through Mrs. Peel’s ceiling. Kid laughed like a hyena.

Some other very good actors are in this story as well. Above, that’s the great Fulton Mackay along with Charles Tingwell, who we remember from the first series of Catweazle, as kidnapped scientists. Noel Coleman and Aimi MacDonald also have small roles. In yet another weird blog acting coincidence, we saw Michael Gough just last night in Young Indiana Jones, and he’s briefly in this story as well with some archive footage as Dr. Armstrong. That villain’s henchman, Benson, returned in this episode. He’s played by Frederick Jaeger, and we’ll see him tomorrow night in Doctor Who.

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Batman ’66 Meets Steed and Mrs. Peel # 1

A quick little break from the routine to note that, for fans of the sort of shows we watch here – and are certainly going to watch here, later on down the line – DC Comics and Boom Studios have a new funnybook out this week that you may enjoy. Three years ago, DC Comics revived the Adam West Batman continuity in a series written by Jeff Parker called Batman ’66. I’ve only seen some of these, but they’re pretty cute, and I like the way that Parker threads together various neat little bits between the episodes, like establishing that the Mad Hatter and the Clock King are brothers. I also understand that they’ve introduced “1966” versions of classic villains who never appeared on the program, or were actually created decades later.

As an aside to this series, they’ve been doing some team-up books, in which the characters from other 1960s media properties get a long story working with our heroes, as they might have done on TV if the stars had lined up right. Each of these storylines is long enough to (presumably) get a collected book edition. In 2014, Kevin Smith wrote Batman ’66 Meets the Green Hornet, which simply can’t be any worse than the one they really did on TV, and last year, Parker wrote Batman ’66 Meets The Man From UNCLE, which has not yet been collected.

This year’s team-up is Batman ’66 Meets Steed and Mrs. Peel – you know, the proper Avengers – which is written by Ian Edginton. I’m very familiar with Edginton’s many series for 2000 AD, the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic, like Scarlet Traces, Brass Sun, and Ampney Crucis Investigates. He’s a heck of a good writer, and, teamed with Matthew Dow Smith on art duties and a cover by Michael Allred, he’s put together a good little opening story.

I wasn’t planning to buy this in single issue form (there will be six of them), but, since we’ve moved to Chattanooga, we’ve been looking for a good comic shop. Daniel and I popped into one today, I saw it on the shelf, and decided that I would read it to him. It worked really well on the reading aloud front – it turns out I do a pretty good Stafford Repp, but my Patrick Macnee is appalling – but it also works really well as a story that somebody unfamiliar with The Avengers might enjoy. Catwoman doesn’t need an introduction, but the book’s co-stars, and some characters from their show, do. He really enjoyed it, although he wasn’t pleased that there will be such a long wait to see what will happen next!

Incidentally, it’s called “Steed and Mrs. Peel” because, of course, Marvel has the trademark for any funnybooks called Avengers. Boom Studios has the current comic book rights because back in 1990, writers Grant Morrison, Emma Caulfield, and artist Ian Gibson teamed up for a comic mini-series that was published by Acme/Eclipse and which was out of print for many years before Boom correctly decided that Morrison’s many fans might like to have a copy for their shelves and bought the rights. I’m glad to see that Boom is doing something else with that license, even if the potential audience for a Steed and Mrs. Peel ongoing is probably quite small.

If you’d like to see what we thought of the TV Batman, click here and settle in for a spell, because they made a lot of those episodes. If you’d like to see what we’ll think of the TV Avengers, subscribe and be patient. Daniel’s a little young for it yet.

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