The GLG Reports
Page 53 of 67

Invasion of the Earthmen
By Grant L. Goggans

"The quarry is our survival area. There, it's kill or be killed." Nation-o-rama! Viewers of British adventure TV from the 1960s and 70s are certainly familiar with the late Terry Nation, who wrote for or created quite a number of programs over the years. It wasn't until 1967 that he wrote an Avengers script, and based on the perceived strength of this one, he was offered a script editor post. For those of us who know Nation's themes, this episode can't help but generate smiles. The overall theme is survival of the fittest, neither the first nor the last time Nation would base stories around that idea (he would later create Survivors, the ultimate survival of the fittest series, which starred one of this episode's guests, Lucy Fleming) but other elements of Nation's fiction are very evident, making this something of a hodgepodge of standard Nation ideas and clichés. His obsession with Nazism is right there, as are phobias, trap-filled corridors, plastic monsters, tunnels connecting two areas of the action and falling rocks. For The Avengers, this was something a little novel and not without some charm, but taken as a slice of Nation's work as a whole, it's TV by the numbers. Even worse is the incredibly pedestrian directing by the usually reliable Don Sharp. He inexplicably shoots Steed reacting to an electrified desk in long shot. Later on, there's a baffling sequence with the "Humpty Dumpty" astronaut very, very slowly moving towards Tara and Tara very, very slowly moving towards a pair of needle-nose pliers. It turns out the astronaut really wanted the pliers all the time. Huh? The whole presence of the "Humpty Dumpty" astronaut is totally weird, and not one word is given to explain what this big costume is doing lumbering about and hiding behind blackboards. This was the second Avengers episode to be filmed for the seventh season (in November 1967) and the second to air in the US, but the 16th to be transmitted in England, making all of Steed's talk of training and polite reference to his partner as "Miss King" seem a little off-kilter. Summing up, this is an unusual episode and something different for The Avengers, and, despite its problems, it is fairly entertaining, but that might have something to do with me yukking about how bold it was for Nation to keep ripping himself off. A little more imagination from Nation and less reliance on things he'd done on Doctor Who almost four years earlier would have helped this one wear even better, though.

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