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Actress Dame Diana Rigg (1938-2020)


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8 minutes ago, TomJH said:

My memory of the series with Mrs. Peel is that I enjoyed the first black and white season more than the second colour one. So far I've just been re-watching episodes from the first season, though that will change, I'm sure. If memory serves me correctly all of Diana Rigg's leather cat outfit episodes were in the black and white season. Diana was happy to get away from those outfits which she found sticky and uncomfortable, much to the chagrin of many male viewers, I'm sure.

True about the male viewers, Tom.  Diana Rigg was a fashion plate in many episodes though as far as what hip and chic English women in the 60's were wearing.  Yeah, the stuff is dated compared to today's styles, but it's still fun to take an occasional trip down Memory Lane on those looks.

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I prefer the color episodes (Season 2 in the U.S.), which were stylish and campy.

MRS PEEL, WE'RE NEEDED — ANDY T FISH

They sometimes even featured droll subtitles, like these from Episode 1:

title card: white all caps text with black dropshadow to the left reading 'FROM VENUS WITH LOVE' superimposed on a close-up of Cosgrove lying dead on the floor with his hair turned grey. The O in LOVE is a heart with an arrow through itsubtitle card: white all caps text with black dropshadow to the left reading 'STEED IS SHOT FULL OF HOLES      EMMA SEES STARS!' superimposed on a close-up of Cosgrove lying dead on the floor with his hair turned grey

And then there were the cutesy ways in which Steed informed Mrs. Peel about new assignments. This was in the tradition of the American TV Western "Have Gun -- Will Travel," which featured a shot of Paladin's calling card in every episode.

 

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I watched another pair of Avengers from the first black and white season, lesser efforts but both with enjoyable aspects to them. With the wild Man-Eater of Surrey Green, influenced, I assume, by the recent British film Day of the Triffids, the sci fi plot involves a thinking plant from outer space (yes, you read that correctly) which is able to transmit brain waves to humans (including some scientists) turning them into zombie-like creatures carrying out its orders for world germinaton. The plant also feeds on humans.

This episode is, to put it mildly, pretty far out there but, even with the obvious limitation in the series' production values as far as special effects are concerned, the climax, in which a giant plant is crawling all over a house with Steed and Mrs. Peel inside is still pretty entertaining, if more than a little ludicrous. The always delightful character actress Athene Seyler brings her warm eccentricities to the role of a botanist coming to the rescue with a container of herbicide. This is one of the few episodes in which we see Steed and Mrs. Peel physically fight one another after Emma's brain falls under the influence of the man eater plant. The doubling of the two actors is pretty obvious. Mrs. Peel is in her cat outfit again towards the end, for which all male audience members can be grateful.

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Two's A Crowd has Patrick Macnee enjoying the opportunity to play dual roles, one as Steed and the other as a lookalike second rate actor and model who is hired by Russian agents to pose as the secret agent. The audience, along with Mrs. Peel, has the fun of trying to figure out whether it's really Steed or his impersonator towards the end of the episode. Again, the series' budget limitations become painfully obvious with some closeups of planes and a submarine that are so obviously miniatures that I wondered if they were supposed to be toys (I don't think they were). It's the charm of Macnee and Rigg, along with a reasonable amount of humour in the form of one slightly stumble bum Russian agent who just can't get the respect of his fellow agents, that helps to carry this episode, I feel.

avengers0412.jpg

 

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6 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

I’m curious, as an AVENGERS virgin Who has never seen a single episode but is looking at Renting some episodes off of Prime,

are there any episodes that you hard-core fans would particularly recommend?

I've forgotten many of them, and don't remember the titles, but 2 that I still remember are the Hellfire Club (The Queen of Sin!) and the one about the man eating plant.

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Just now, Hibi said:

I've forgotten many of them, and don't remember the titles, but 2 that I still remember are the Hellfire Club (The Queen of Sin!) and the one about the man eating plant.

Oh, I see Tom mentioned the man eating plant above!

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5 hours ago, TomJH said:

My memory of the series with Mrs. Peel is that I enjoyed the first black and white season more than the second colour one. So far I've just been re-watching episodes from the first season, though that will change, I'm sure. If memory serves me correctly all of Diana Rigg's leather cat outfit episodes were in the black and white season. Diana was happy to get away from those outfits which she found sticky and uncomfortable, much to the chagrin of many male viewers, I'm sure.

I agree. I didnt watch the first season when it ran. I started watching the 2nd season (which was really 2 seasons in the U.S.) I only watched the first season later in syndication and I liked it better than the color ones.

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From the final episodes of the first season of Emma Peel Avengers, The House That Jack Built remains one of the best directed episodes of the series, as well as an intriguing story. Mrs. Peel is lured to a country estate she had been informed by letter she inherited from her "Uncle Jack" whom she has never met. Once inside the house, though, she finds herself trapped in a structure full of maze-like rooms that look the same, haunting laughter and the rumble of a lion's roar. It's up to Mrs. Peel to unravel the mystery before she goes mad. Steed, suspecting something may be wrong, tries to find his way to the house to help. This episode is primarily Diana Rigg's as her character must use logic and reason to try to understand what is happening to her in the house. The final resolution may be a little simplistic perhaps but the overall presentation, with frequent off angle camerawork, still keeps the viewer engrossed as to what will happen next.

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By contrast, the final episode of the season, Honey for the Prince, is light hearted and amusing, dealing with a planned assassination of an Arabian prince visiting England. It will also involve a company called Q.Q.F. (Quite Quite Fantastic) in which people pay money to realize any fantasy they desire, from one client dressed as Napoleon to another as a cowboy. Ron Moody, a few years before appearing as Fagin in Oliver, is suitably eccentric as the head of the company.

Steed, in trying to solve the death of a fellow secret agent who had been there, asks to have the same fantasy as him, only to find out it will be as a eunuch in a harem. Speaking of which, Mrs. Peel's appeal will rise to even greater heights than usual in this episode as she disguises herself as dancing "Emma" in a harem outfit to lure an Arabian prince. Silly but fun with the rubbing of lamps as harem girls and others suddenly appear and disappear with a puff of smoke, Honey for the Prince is not intended to be taken seriously.

avengers0426.jpg

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10 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

I’m curious, as an AVENGERS virgin Who has never seen a single episode but is looking at Renting some episodes off of Prime,

are there any episodes that you hard-core fans would particularly recommend?

I've had to show some first-timers, and my favorites are always the original B&W The Cybernauts (who became to the Avengers what the Daleks were to Doctor Who) of the'65-'66 B&W Peel era--or "Seasons 4-5" as disk/streaming calls it--the previously cited The Winged Avenger of the color Peel era, The 13th Hole, Death's Door, and Escape in Time for ingeniously devious baddie plots, and, if we're wandering into '68 Tara King territory, The Forget-Me-Knot as the perfect introduction.  The first two have so many "aha, so he did it?" red herrings, it gets newbies hooked on the plots and humor.  And yes, Tom's recommendation of The Quick-Quick-Slow Death, for stated reasons.

Dead Man's Treasure, where Steed, Peel, and their Rolls-Royce and sports car, enter a Wacky Races-esque auto race on a country estate to try and retrieve valuable information hidden in the prize, isn't a great first episode, since S&P are split up for 3/4 of the story, but it's still enjoyably silly, thanks to its own unforgivingly earworm Laurie Johnson theme throughout the ENTIRE episode:

1 hour ago, TomJH said:

From the final episodes of the first season of Emma Peel Avengers, The House That Jack Built remains one of the best directed episodes of the series, as well as an intriguing story. Mrs. Peel is lured to a country estate she had been informed by letter she inherited from her "Uncle Jack" whom she has never met. Once inside the house, though, she finds herself trapped in a structure full of maze-like rooms that look the same, haunting laughter and the rumble of a lion's roar. It's up to Mrs. Peel to unravel the mystery before she goes mad.

It's even homaged in the '98 movie, as Uma Thurman spends ten minutes running around Escher-like mazes while escaping from Sean Connery's HQ--

Thus even FURTHER baffling modern audiences who had never seen the original show.

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I always enjoyed those episodes where they wound up in a deserted village and there was no one

around as if everyone had suddenly left. Of course there was always some strange skulduggery

that eventually explained everything. 

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HEY: If anyone is interested I just discovered that Amazon prime is ****selling the ENTIRE FIFTH SEASON  of the AVENGERS for only five bucks.*****
I just bought it.

Digitally.

Sorry, I just woke up and I’m posting with my phone, but I thought you all might want to know this.

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1 minute ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

Watching FROM VENUS WITH LOVE, it’s very au-currant! 

Loved Mrs. Peel's colorful jumpsuits in Season 2. Dame Diana had begun to tire of the leather catsuits, so a designer came in and made changes.

The Avengers" From Venus with Love (TV Episode 1967) - Photo Gallery - IMDb

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12 minutes ago, jakeem said:

Loved Mrs. Peel's colorful jumpsuits in Season 2. Dame Diana had begun to tire of the leather catsuits, so a designer came in and made changes.

The Avengers" From Venus with Love (TV Episode 1967) - Photo Gallery - IMDb

I’m loving the cars, the set decor, the locations,  and the way this thing was shot, it’s not like any other television show from the 60s that I’ve seen with the editing the angles and the shot compositions. Very cinematic.

Each episode must’ve taken a pretty long time to film.

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14 hours ago, EricJ said:

Dead Man's Treasure, where Steed, Peel, and their Rolls-Royce and sports car, enter a Wacky Races-esque auto race on a country estate to try and retrieve valuable information hidden in the prize, isn't a great first episode, since S&P are split up for 3/4 of the story, but it's still enjoyably silly, thanks to its own unforgivingly earworm Laurie Johnson theme throughout the ENTIRE episode:

 

It's been a lot time since I saw it but I recall enjoying Dead Man's Treasure more than most of the colour Emma Peels.

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13 minutes ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

I’m loving the cars, the set decor, the locations,  and the way this thing was shot, it’s not like any other television show from the 60s that I’ve seen with the editing the angles and the shot compositions. Very cinematic.

Each episode must’ve taken a pretty long time to film.

Wait until you see "Epic," in which a psycho movie producer goes to elaborate lengths to kill Mrs. Peel on film.

See the source image

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For those who cannot get enough of Diana Rigg (and I am evidently one), here are some things she did besides The Avengers:

An unfortunate adaptation of the play by Peter Hall.  He attempted to infuse it with the irreverent idiosyncrasy of the period, but nowadays (and maybe back then), it comes off as a little silly.  She's joined by Helen Mirren, Judy Dench and Ian Holm.  Most actors declaim Shakespeare's words, but Miss Rigg and some others make them sound more like speech, and give something of the rhythm and music it should have.

She was also in a couple of shorts made shortly after her time on The Avengers, and obviously intended to capitalize on her role as Mrs. Peel.  She plays a woman of intrigue, or one who is involved in intrigue, anyway, and unceasingly menaced by adversaries.  One is called minikillers (1969), and the other is called The Diadem (1969), or Der goldene Schlüssel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2g3iuSESdo4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iK4uChoXlKw

 

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6 hours ago, Hibi said:

I don't think anyone has mentioned how much Laurie Johnson's musical score was so integral to the show. Who can think of The Avengers without hearing that main theme music?

Absolutely, Hibi!  I also liked where Steed and Emma are in silhouette while the music played and the end credits rolled.  It's interesting how theme music from television shows of our younger days are a mainstay to triggering memories that cause one to smile.

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21 hours ago, slaytonf said:

For those who cannot get enough of Diana Rigg (and I am evidently one), here are some things she did besides The Avengers:

An unfortunate adaptation of the play by Peter Hall.  He attempted to infuse it with the irreverent idiosyncrasy of the period, but nowadays (and maybe back then), it comes off as a little silly.  She's joined by Helen Mirren, Judy Dench and Ian Holm.  Most actors declaim Shakespeare's words, but Miss Rigg and some others make them sound more like speech, and give something of the rhythm and music it should have.

She was also in a couple of shorts made shortly after her time on The Avengers, and obviously intended to capitalize on her role as Mrs. Peel.  She plays a woman of intrigue, or one who is involved in intrigue, anyway, and unceasingly menaced by adversaries.  One is called minikillers (1969), and the other is called The Diadem (1969), or Der goldene Schlüssel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2g3iuSESdo4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iK4uChoXlKw

 

Oh Lord, and even Judi Dench is in this as Tatiana, wearing next to nothing!  It's hard to believe that they were all so young once!

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I viewed two of the earliest broadcast Avengers, both of them favourites of mine.

The Gravediggers has Steed and Mrs. Peel investigating why the nation's early warning radar system is developing glitches, leading them to a graveyard and a hospital for retired railwaymen. This episode, in particular its second half, is a delightful illustration of the series love for eccentric characters, as well as featuring a climax which turns into a delightful parody of silent movie serials. The villains tie Mrs. Peel to a railway track on which operates a mini train in which a collision with the lady might well do as much harm to the train as it does the lady. Meanwhile Steed battles the baddies on the train  before the collision takes place as a tinny sounding piano right out of a silent movie theatre plays on the soundtrack.

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The Cybernauts may well be the Avengers episode that created more of a reaction among fans of the series than most others, at least among its early releases. This time our two intrepid heroes are investigating the deaths of a number of executives of major industries who are murdered in their offices by a single blow from an individual powerful enough to literally punch his way through their doors. Does the killer originate with a karate school, which Mrs. Peel joins, or is it something more . . . like a killer robot?

The sci fi element, which would become a fixture in many future scripts for the series, features Michael Gough as an electronics genius operating from a wheelchair. The early scenes depicting the deaths of executives, as largely seen through the killer's eyes, are suspensefully presented, with amplified sound effects as doors are battered apart and guns are fired at the killer with no effect. The episode's climax, with Mrs. Peel unknowingly being stocked by the killer, as Steed seeks to come to the rescue, is also excitingly staged, and there will be a twist in the physical action.

This episode was popular enough that it spanned a sequel, Return of the Cybernauts, in the following season, the only sequel of the Peel series.

dae3bfbbc59b21c2365e4a305f56991b.png

 

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IMDb.com rates the top ten episodes of The Avengers (1961-1969) as:

Too Many Christmas Trees (1965)    8.6    
The House That Jack Built (1966)    8.6    
The Cybernauts (1965)    8.6    
The Hour That Never Was (1965)    8.5    
Murdersville (1967)    8.5    
A Touch of Brimstone (1966)    8.5    
The Joker (1967)    8.4    
The Interrogators (1969)    8.4    
Death's Door (1967)    8.4    
Dead Man's Treasure (1967)

 

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Hey! Anyone here have a good remedy for an earworm?

HELP! Ya see, it's been almost two weeks since Diana Rigg's passing, and ever since I heard the news I JUST can't get The Avengers theme song out of my head, and it's driving me CRAZY!!!

(...okay okay..."crazier")

;)

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1 hour ago, Dargo said:

Hey! Anyone here have a good remedy for an earworm?

HELP! Ya see, it's been almost two weeks since Diana Rigg's passing, and ever since I heard the news I JUST can't get The Avengers theme song out of my head, and it's driving me CRAZY!!!

(...okay okay..."crazier")

;)

Here, Dargo, this might help.

Okay I admit that was a bit of a rat thing for me to do but with all the Avengers episodes I've been watching lately I can't get Laurie Johnson's great theme and arrangement out of my mind either. In fact, I spent much of today humming it . . . over and over and over again. It's somehow comforting to know that someone else is going nuts with this, too.

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1 hour ago, Dargo said:

Hey! Anyone here have a good remedy for an earworm?

HELP! Ya see, it's been almost two weeks since Diana Rigg's passing, and ever since I heard the news I JUST can't get The Avengers theme song out of my head, and it's driving me CRAZY!!!

(...okay okay..."crazier")

;)

Binge on All Creatures Great and Small.  The title theme will drive out the Avengers theme. But it will most likely finish sending you over the edge, as well. 

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31 minutes ago, slaytonf said:

Binge on All Creatures Great and Small.  The title theme will drive out the Avengers theme. But it will most likely finish sending you over the edge, as well. 

Ya know slayton, after reading your suggestion here which I assumed had been offered up in jest, I cued up this other old Brit series' theme song on YouTube, and yeah, it seems it IS actually working to help rid me of this earworm I had. 

I had earlier tried using another old Brit series' theme song which had made its way across the pond to our shores about the same time as The Avengers had, the theme from The Saint, but it didn't seem to do the trick at all. ;)

(...and so thanks!) 

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