Skip to main content

Don’t fight it, Mrs Peel. We’re inseparable.


The Avengers
Season 5 Ranked - Worst to Best

Season Five is arguably The Avengers season where the show achieved its greatest visibility – now in full colour, Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg returning as its most formidable partnership – but also one that experienced a slight slip in quality from what is rightly regarded as the previous year's pinnacle. There’s little in the way of outright turkeys here – it has that much in common with Season Four – but fewer outright gems too.

24. The See-Through Man

Brodny! That wacky Russian, he’s so funny. No, not really, although there's no denying Warren Mitchell's chemistry with Macnee. The invisibility plotline, in a season divided between actual science-fiction premises and fake-out ones, fits comfortably into the latter.


23. The Positive-Negative Man

Whereas this one, with Michael Latimer painted green and electrocuting people, appeals to the former. A bit dull, despite some cartoonishly victim-shaped impact craters.


22. The £50,000 Breakfast

Redundant remake of Season Two's Death of a Great Dane, most notable for a cameo by Anneke "Polly" Wills (Dressed to Kill).


21. The Fear Merchants

Patrick Cargill's cool shades and minimalist office space only go so far in making up for a fairly standard murder-for-hire yarn.

20. Escape in Time

Peter Bowles is a winner, as is the time-tunnel effect, but you know this is a scam almost from the first, which makes much of the proceedings feel like they're treading water.


19. Never, Never Say Die

About as sci-fi as the show gets, with several Christopher Lees running around and a plot that's pretty much a robot version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It's all rather dry, unfortunately, and double the Lee would only pay off if he were well used.


18. The Joker

Another remake, of Don't Look Behind You this time, benefiting from strong production design and the commanding presences of Ronald Lacey and Peter Jeffrey, but it’s a story – Avengers girl in peril in an empty house – that has been overdone already prior to this instalment (and it won’t be the last of them).


17. Return of the Cybernauts

The second sequel of the season (if you count Brodny's return as the first) with Peter Cushing's stock villain out for revenge and wooing Mrs Peel. It's more engaging than the original, but that's still not quite enough.


16. The Bird Who Knew Too Much

Reasonably diverting spy fare in which Ron Moody's parrot passes secrets to the enemy. Emma and Steed pose for Kenneth Cope while a couple of vicious killers add an unpleasant streak. Like much of the season, you get the feeling other episodes have done this better.


15. The Correct Way to Kill

A remake of The Charmers, and I'm not being a purist by rating the originals as superior to the Season Four versions in each case (particularly since I first saw this season long before the Cathy Gale episodes); the school for killers is a serviceable idea, but the positives of Philip Madoc and Anna Quayle (Olga from the Volga) have to be balanced against the disappointments of Michael Gough and Terence Alexander.


14. Mission… Highly Improbable

Steed gets shrunk, Emma gets shrunk, and an over-sized desktop set gets a good work out. For all the conscious absurdity of the premise, it probably doesn’t revel in its potential for silliness quite enough. The villain, meanwhile, has a disturbingly offhand manner in disposing of his miniaturised victims.


13. You Have Just Been Murdered

A rarity in that the gag title premise doesn’t wear thin, as Simon Oates repeatedly doesn't kill his bribery victims (until he does). Also present and correct: various attempts at double crosses, Mrs Peel getting some quality riverside action, and a villain who lives in a haystack.


12. The Living Dead

One of the season's fake SF/fantasy episodes, although the Bond villain plot to take over the country via an army beneath a sleepy rural town, complete with Julian Glover in a Fahrenheit 451 hat, goes some way to compensate for the absence of actual ghosts. Particularly notable for an extreme burst of ultra-violence on Emma's part.


11. The Hidden Tiger

Killer cats played out surprisingly effectively, thanks to Sidney Havers' stylish attack sequences. Notable too for Ronnie Barker's comic relief, Rigg's catfight with Gabrielle Drake and some shameless wordplay ("Mrs Peel! Pussies galore!")


10. Death's Door

Effectively trippy dream sequences (those faceless reporters) supporting an intriguing if ultimately implausible how-did-they-do-that, all in aid of an attempt to confound a European peace conference (imagine that). Includes a tense scene where Steed ends up as target practice. That would be Sidney Havers directing again.


9. Something Nasty in the Nursery

More messing with subjective reality for devious ends, as politicians are reduced to infantile states in order to persuade them to offer up secrets. Particularly unnerving amidst the regressed adults is Dudley Foster's Nanny Roberts.


8. From Venus With Love

Space visitors killing members of the British Venusian Society? A bright selection of supporting players (Jon Pertwee, Jeremy Lloyd's chimney sweep Bert Smith - "Actually, it's Bertram Fortescue Winthrop Smyth. To be absolutely accurate") and a mastermind whose identity isn't unveiled until quite late in the game add to the appeal.


7. Epic

Emma under pressure and Brian Clemens working with what's on hand at Elstree result in a mostly inspired riff on the motion picture business as Jason Wyngarde takes full advantage of the opportunity to devour scenery at every turn.


6. Who's Who???

Body swap tales can be a desperate fall-back option for creatively bereft staff, but this one's largely a success thanks to the performances of Freddie Jones and Patricia Haines. Only Macnee as Jones doesn’t quite convince.


5. The Superlative Seven

The familiar Agatha Christie (and Dressed to Kill) structure can't diminish this one, thanks to a colourful supporting cast (Brian Blessed, Donald Sutherland, Charlotte Rampling, John Hollis) and an effective reinvention of the story, rather than the kind of straight retelling that has dampened other remakes this season.


4. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Station

Always welcome Avengers guest star John Laurie steals the show as a railway enthusiast, but this episode chugs along very pleasingly on all accounts; particularly winning are the exchanges between a captive Steed and James Hayer's Ticket Inspector.


3. Murdersville

A visit to Little Storping In-the Swuff finds Emma at the mercy of a murderous free-for-all, with a particularly unpleasant Colin Blakely. Indeed, if not for his lack of comeuppance – a pie in the face hardly counts – this would have full marks.


2. The Winged Avenger.

Ee-urp!


1. Dead Man's Treasure

An infectiously frivolous, summery jaunt as a Laurie Johnson provides an indelible musical accompaniment to a race round the countryside. Emma and Steed and are mixed and matched with guest co-drivers as dirty tricks abound. Reeks of effortless '60s cool.



Agree? Disagree? Mildly or vehemently? Let me know in the comments below.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

He’s probably paranoid, high-strung, doesn’t like daylight. You know, has a lot of crumbs in his beard, if he has a beard.

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) (SPOILERS) I’d like to report I had a blast with Godzilla vs. Kong . It’s lighter on its oversized, city-stomping feet than its slog of a MonsterVerse predecessor, Godzilla: King of the Monsters , and there are flashes of visual inspiration along with several engaging core ideas (which, to be fair, the series had already laid the seeds for). But this sequel still stumbles in its chief task: assembling an engaging, lively story that successfully integrates both tiny humans and towering titans.

You stink, my friend.

Mulan (2020) (SPOILERS) Let that be a lesson to Disney. It’s a fool’s errand to try and beat the Chinese at their own game, no matter how painstakingly respectful – or rather, pandering – you are. Indeed, Mulan ’s abysmal $40m box office take in the country – where it did get a proper release, so no plandemic excuses can be cited – feels like a direct rebuke; don’t try and tell us how to suck eggs. There’s an additional explanation too, of course. That Mulan sucks.

It's Dark Age, by Jupiter!

The Dig (2021) (SPOILERS) An account of the greatest archaeological find Britain would know until Professor Horner opened the barrow at Devil’s End. And should you scoff at such “ fiction ”, that’s nothing on this adaptation of John Preston’s 2007 novel concerning the Sutton Hoo excavations of the late 1930s. The Dig , as is the onus of any compelling fictional account, takes liberties with the source material, but the erring from the straight and narrow in this case is less an issue than the shift in focus from characters and elements successfully established during the first hour.

Roswell was a smokescreen, we've had a half a dozen better salvage operations.

The X-Files 1.24: The Erlenmeyer Flask The Erlenmeyer Flask makes for a fast-paced, tense and eventful ride, but does it make any sense? That less than mattered at the time, but revisiting the mythology arc (for probably the fourth or fifth time) reveals increasingly tenuous internal coherence as the various conspiracy elements begin to pile up and the situations become ever-more convoluted. This will become the Chris Carter’s signature: don’t examine the details too closely, go with the flow. Trust Chris implicitly.

UFO IN MOSSINGHAM?

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (2020) (SPOILERS) One might reasonably suggest the recourse of the ailing or desperate franchise is to resort, seemingly out of nowhere, to space aliens. Even Police Academy didn’t go that far (to Moscow, yes, but not to space). Perhaps animators think kids have no skills of discernment and will swallow any old sugar-coated crap. Perhaps they don’t, and they will. Ice Age had been enjoying absurd success until Collision Course sent Scrat spinning into the cosmos and grosses tumbled. Shaun the Sheep has been around for a quarter of a century, but this is only his second movie outing and already he’s pulling an E.T. on us. Of course, this may all be part of the grand scheme, and Nick Park is simply doing his bit to familiarise the tots in time for Project Blue Beam.

Careful how much boat you’re eating.

Onward (2020) (SPOILERS) Pixar’s Bright , or thereabouts. The interesting thing – perhaps the only interesting thing – about Onward is that it’s almost indiscernible from a DreamWorks Animation effort, where once they cocked a snook at such cheap-seats fare, seeing themselves as better class of animation house altogether. Just about everything in Onward is shamelessly derivative, from the Harry Potter /fantasy genre cash-in to the use of the standard Pixar formula whereby any scenario remotely eccentric or exotic is buried beneath the banal signifiers of modern society: because anything you can imagine must be dragged down to tangible everyday reference points or kids won’t be able to assimilate it. And then there’s the choice of lead voices, in-Disney star-slaves Chris Pratt and Tom Holland.

Our "Bullshit!" team has unearthed spectacular new evidence, which suggests, that Jack the Ripper was, in fact, the Loch Ness Monster.

Amazon Women on the Moon (1987) Cheeseburger Film Sandwich . Apparently, that’s what the French call Amazon Women on the Moon . Except that it probably sounds a little more elegant, since they’d be saying it in French (I hope so, anyway). Given the title, it should be no surprise that it is regarded as a sequel to Kentucky Fried Movie . Which, in some respects, it is. John Landis originally planned to direct the whole of Amazon Women himself, but brought in other directors due to scheduling issues. The finished film is as much of a mess as Kentucky Fried Movie , arrayed with more miss sketches than hit ones, although it’s decidedly less crude and haphazard than the earlier picture. Some have attempted to reclaim Amazon Women as a dazzling satire on TV’s takeover of our lives, but that’s stretching it. There is a fair bit of satire in there, but the filmmakers were just trying to be funny; there’s no polemic or express commentary. But even on such moderate t

By heaven, I’d thrash the life out of you… if I didn’t have to read the Nine O’Clock News.

The Green Man (1956) (SPOILERS) The Green movie from Launder and Gilliat starring Alastair Sim that isn’t Green for Danger. Which is to say, The Green Man can’t quite scale the heady heights of that decade-earlier murder mystery triumph, but neither is it any slouch. Sim is the antagonist this time – albeit a very affable, Sim-ish one – and his sometime protégée, a young George Cole, the hero. If the plot is entirely absurd, Robert Day’s movie wastes no time probing such insufficiencies, ensuring it is very funny, lively and beautifully performed.

Well, I’ll be damned. It’s the gentleman guppy.

Waterworld (1995) (SPOILERS) The production and budgetary woes of “ Kevin’s Gate ” will forever overshadow the movie’s content (and while it may have been the most expensive movie ever to that point – adjusted for inflation, it seems only Cleopatra came close – it has since turned a profit). However, should you somehow manage to avoid the distraction of those legendary problems, the real qualitative concerns are sure to come sailing over the cognitive horizon eventually; Waterworld is just so damned derivative. It’s a seafaring Mad Max. Peter Rader, who first came up with the idea in 1986, admitted as much. David Twohy, who later came aboard, also cited Mad Max 2 ; that kind of rip-off aspect – Jaws birthing Piranha – makes it unsurprising Waterworld was once under consideration by Roger Corman (he couldn’t cost it cheaply enough). Ultimately, there’s never a sufficient sense the movie has managed to become its own thing. Which is a bummer, because it’s frequently quite good fun.

Wow. Asteroids are made of farts. Okay. I got it.

Greenland (2020) (SPOILERS) Global terror porn for overpopulation adherents as Gerard Butler and his family do their darnedest to reach the safety of a bunker in the titular country in the face of an imminent comet impact. Basically, what if 2012 were played straight? These things come to test cinemas in cycles, of course. Sean Connery struggled with a duff rug and a stack of mud in Meteor , while Deep Impact plumbed for another dread comet and Armageddon an asteroid. The former, owing to the combined forces of Bruce Joel Rubin and Michael Tolkin, was a – relatively – more meditative fare. The latter was directed by Michael Bay. And then there’s Roland Emmerich, who having hoisted a big freeze on us in The Day After Tomorrow then wreaked a relatively original source of devastation in the form of 2012 ’s overheating Earth’s core. Greenland , meanwhile, is pretty much what you’d expect from the director of Angel Has Fallen .