The Avengers

with Emma Peel, Season Four

Warning: This is a very large and growing file with a number of mildly provocative images.

Tape Episode Title Air Date
1.1 The Master Minds 10/2/65
1.2 The Gravediggers 10/9/65
1.3 How To Succeed At Murder (Without Really Trying) 3/19/66
1.4 The Murder Market 11/13/65
2.5 A Sense of History 3/12/66
2.6 Small Game for Big Hunters 1/15/66
2.7 The 13th Hole 1/29/66
2.8 Two's a Crowd 12/18/65
3.9 What the Butler Saw 2/26/66
3.10 Too Many Christmas Trees 12/25/65
3.11 Castle De'Ath 10/30/65
3.12 The Danger Makers 2/12/66
4.13 Death at Bargain Prices 10/23/65
4.14 The Hour That Never Was 1/27/65
4.15 The Maneater of Surrey Green 12/11/65
4.16 Room Without a View 1/8/66
5.17 Silent Dust 1/1/66
5.18 A Surfeit of H2O 11/20/65
5.19 A Touch of Brimstone 2/19/66
5.20 The Town of No Return 10/2/65
6.21 Dial a Deadly Number 12/4/65
6.22 The Girl form Auntie 1/21/66
6.23 The Quick Quick Slow Death 2/5/66
6.24 The House That Jack Built 3/5/66
7.25 Honey for the Prince 3/23/66
7.26 The Cybernauts 10/16/65
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The Master Minds

  Steed Becomes a Genius
Emma Loses Her Mind

In "Master Minds," Emma proves she has as much brains as good looks as she helps Steed match wits with a bunch of cerebral crooks. This episode always makes my wife groan because of the overtly sexist attention the camera pays to Emma in an early scene. Indeed, it does seem unnecessary and out of place, but it is not often repeated. The closing sequence, wherein the obligatory fight occurs while a military training film is being projected backwards, is a bit corny, to be sure, but that's part of the show's charm. Wonderful little touches: Check out the items pasted to the inside of the locker door in the dorm room.

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The Gravediggers

  Steed Drives a Train
Emma is Tied to the Tracks

The country's early warning radar defense system is going on the blink, and our heroes must find out why. The trail leads them through a series of graveyards and ultimately to a hospital run exclusively for the benefit of railway men. This episode provides another example of the charming goofiness of the series, as toward the end we find Emma tied to the railway tracks and Steed fighting the baddies on a moving train (albeit a little one), while a silent film music score plays! Emma is in fine fighting form. A nice departure from the usual straightforward fight sequence. This is a particular favorite of mine because of the railroad theme--some friends have suggested that I am destined to become Sir Horace Winslip in my senior years. "Winslip Junction, where all lines converge and all friends meet."

Best line: "At least it would have kept you to the straight and narrow." (Emma to Steed about being an engineer)

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How to Succeed at Murder

  Steed Becomes a Perfect Boss
Emma Goes Seeking Charm

"Ruination to all men" is the battle cry of the baddies, this time a band of power-hungry secretaries led by Henrietta, an ugly little puppet under the control of a mysterious mastermind. In a vague way it brings to mind the Anthony Hopkins film, Magic. Not a particularly great episode in my book, but the sequence with Mr. Hooter and the tire pump is definitely fun. Trivia: The guest actor playing Mr. Hooter appeared again the following season (as did so many) in "Never Say Die."

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The Murder Market

Steed Seeks a Wife
Emma Gets Buried

Curious deaths ultimately point to a quirky marriage bureau. This is a highly unusual episode in that Emma does not appear to be herself; that is, Diana plays the character very differently. Instead of her usual bright, razor-sharp wit, she is low-key, almost sultry, which is most noticeable in the opening scenes. Another anomaly is her reaction to finding the murdered man and her subsequent lashing-out at Steed, and her fight with the female baddie resembles more of a catfight. When she plays dead in the coffin, though, she is much more like the Emma we know and love. The murder that takes place in front of the giant fish tank is effective--how did they do that? Don't miss Steed mugging it up as he observes the fish. Trivia: The head of the marriage bureau shows up later in "The Fear Merchants."

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A Sense of History

Steed Dons a Gown
Emma Becomes a Don

A history professor decides to tinker with future history by murdering a key politician involved in uniting Europe. While I endorse the premise, the result proved to be a somewhat less than memorable episode, save for the fight scene at the fancy dress party--good Emma-watching here; you won't believe her Robin Hood outfit, or lack thereof. The scenes involving the students at university are dripping with sixties flavor.

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Small Game for Big Hunters

Steed Joins the Natives
Emma Gets the Evil Eye

Is a voodoo curse responsible for the death of an Englishman? This puzzle leads Steed to the jungle headquarters of a crackpot ex-serviceman (a four-bowler performance for him) and his spear-chucking buddies--all located smack in the middle of London. The habitat is maintained artificially for the purpose of developing germ-laden tsetse flies, to be unleashed on the unsuspecting citizens of England.

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The 13th Hole

Steed Finds a Bogie
Emma Gets a Birdie

Strange goings-on at a golf course lead our duo to discover a small group of malcontents watching a satellite broadcast of a how-to TV show on bomb building. Uneven at times--falls a bit flat as the episode hangs about the golf club house, as does Steed--but has its moments, as they all do.

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Two's a Crowd

Steed is Single Minded
Emma Sees Double

The arrival of a mysterious Russian spy has Steed playing a double-agent--with Emma trying to kill him. A tough one to rate: Steed's modeling sequence is a howl, but Brodny is simply too annoyingly comical to tolerate--and we get a second dose of the same character next season, no less, in "The See-Through Man." Model airplane enthusiasts might get a kick out of it--now it seems we know where the Army got the idea to make miniature spy planes... Trivia: The tall baddie (Julian Glover) returns in "The Living Dead," and also leads the ground assault on Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back.

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What the Butler Saw

Steed Becomes a Gentleman's Gentleman
Emma Faces a Fate Worse than Death

Secrets are leaking left, right and center, but which muckety-muck is the traitor? Only the butler knows. An interesting mix of side-splitting humor ("Better, Brighter more Beautiful Butling") and a few stylishly dark moments. Steed appearing in his various guises--and via remarkable modes of transport--are unforgettable. The higher-ups zipping themselves into a plastic bubble echoes the Cone of Silence from Get Smart. Emma and the skirt-chaser is another memorable sequence. "He will come to me."

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Too Many Christmas Trees

Steed Hangs Up His Stocking
Emma Asks for More

Steed is having bad nightmares, which then seem to play out in real life. The reason: A band of telepaths are after the secrets he carries in his mind. One of my all-time favorite of favorites--in fact, it's at the top of my Top 10 list (ranks up there on fellow fan Jackie Lane's list, too). I just love the mistletoe scene at the end. Emma playing Oliver Twist is not to be missed ("I want more..."), and the exchange between her and Steed about the bed in his room is one of the best. There is a sly reference to Honor Blackman in this episode: As Steed and Emma open his Christmas cards ("And who is 'Boofums'?"), he announces that one of them is from "Mrs. Gale... How nice of her to remember me. Fancy what she'd be doing in Fort Knox." Remember that Honor Blackman played Pussy Galore...

Best line: Emma: "I've always fancied myself in one of these." Steed: "So have I..."

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Castle De'Ath

Steed Becomes a Strapping Jock
Emma Lays a Ghost

A spy in scuba gear is found dead... and three inches taller. The clues point to a classic Scottish castle. While Emma assists in turning Castle De'Ath into a tourist attraction, McSteed does research for a book on his ancestors, and the two uncover ghosts, torture chambers, and submarine bays. This is another favorite of mine. When Emma goes in search of the ghostly bagpipe playing, the shadowy visuals and subtle sounds of the ghostly bagpipes are so creepy that it gives you goose bumps... and Emma traipsing about the castle in her nightgown is a sight never to be forgotten.

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The Danger Makers

Steed Joins a Secret Society
Emma Walks the Plank

Something quite the opposite from battle fatigue is turning certain high-ranking army types into teenage daredevils, and this leads Steed to a secret (aren't they all?) organization of kamikaze renegade army types who plan to steal the crown jewels or die in the attempt. Steed faces his execution in a very fine scene, and Emma's nerves of steel are put to the ultimate test in a bizarre life-or-death ritual.

Feedback: Fellow fan Jackie Lane takes issue with my rating. It may have something to do with the fact that this was the first episode she saw. On revisiting it, I have added a bowler (formerly two).

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Death at Bargain Prices

Steed Fights in Ladies' Underwear
Emma Tries 'Feinting'

An ordinary store receipt is a clue in the case of a missing scientist. Our duo uncovers an extraordinary plot to blow up half of London, and it all takes place in a department store. Yet another favorite, primarily because of the goofy fight sequence in the toy department, the effectively tense race to stop the elevator, and one of Steed's best lines of all time. Emma also looks terrific in outer space gear.

Best line: Steed: "He said, 'Our Mrs. Peel is in ladies' underwear.' I rattled up the stairs three at a time."

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The Hour that Never Was

Steed Has to Face the Music
Emma Disappears

Even an auto accident can't keep Steed and Emma from attending a party at an air base, but they arrive to find the place completely deserted. After a series of strange experiences, Steed wakes up at the scene of the auto accident again, alone this time, and returns to the air base to find the party in full swing. This is a well-done episode with some very eerie sequences, and is especially appropriate for those who hate dentists. The closing shot is fun. One of my top-ten. Look for Hickey to return as an absent-minded inventor in "The See-Through Man."

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The Maneater of Surrey Green

Steed Kills a Climber
Emma Becomes a Vegetable

This one almost goes over the top with a tale about a man-eating plant from outer space--possibly the moon. Emma: "Recent photos show whole areas of vegetation." Indeed! The telepathic plant has kidnapped England's top horticulturalists in its plan to germinate. (Then again, in light of the recent discovery about Martian life arriving on Earth, perhaps it is not so far-fetched...) The battle with the plant is surprisingly effective, with a few good twists. Athene Seyler as Dr. Sheldon is a hoot!

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Room Without a View

Steed Becomes a Gourmet
Emma Awakens in Manchuria

Steed takes on the guise of Mr. Gourmet in order to reach Max Chessman, a hotel tycoon suspected of using his hotel empire as a cover for a brainwashing service. But, drat, the butter was salted. Trivia: Varnals (Peter Jeffrey) returns as Max Prendergast in the splendid episode, "The Joker." And the Russian baddie appears again as the man from SMOG in "The Living Dead."

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Silent Dust

Steed Watches Birds
Emma Goes Hunting

"Where have all the martlets gone?" This query from a birdwatcher sends our duo on the trail of a deadly chemical, which happens to be in the possession of a slick horseman with the hots for Emma (which is easily understood). Her opinion of him, as expressed to Steed in the pub, is a riot, as are the protesters at the fox hunt. A very outdoors-oriented outing. Trivia: The pig-killer shows up again as the barkeep in "The Living Dead." He has also made appearances in All Creatures Great and Small.

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A Surfeit of H2O

Steed Plans a Boat Trip
Emma Gets Very Wet

Water, water, everywhere, and much more than anyone can drink. A very scientific wine merchant with a thick German accent is planning to take over the country by drowning it with man-made rain. This episode features an assortment of wonderful crackpot characters and one of the best fight sequences of the series. "The flood is coming!" Steed carrying on to the receptionist about Buttercup wine is memorable. Plus, there's lots of Emma-watching material, including a never-to-be-repeated PVC number. Of particular note--for me--is Diana Rigg's performance when she is being crushed in the wine press. As the press is lowered another fraction of an inch, she flinches with pain so convincingly that it sends a chill up my spine every time. While bondage freaks tend to gravitate to The Avengers for stuff like this, I am the opposite--I desperately want to be Steed rushing to her rescue!

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A Touch of Brimstone

Steed Joins a Secret Society
Emma Walks the Plank

An exclusive period club is planning a political coup. Absolutely the most erotic Avengers episode ever, with the most intense Emma-watching material imaginable. In fact, the whip sequence was apparently too intense for the American market, as some of it was cut. And Emma wasn't the only character to steam up the picture tube--a Monty Python alumnus also helped (more later). But don't see this one just for Emma--it is well and truly a great episode, with some remarkable moments. Who could forget Steed removing the pea before the axe fell?

While it may contain a bit too much overt sexism for some feminist viewers, guess who designed Emma's Queen of Sin costume? Why, Diana Rigg herself! Trivia: The swordsman with the steel fingertips returns as a duplicate in "Never, Never Say Die," and then again later "The Forget-Me-Knot."

Best line: "You certainly do that!"

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The Town of No Return

Steed Finds a Town of Ghosts
Emma Gets Put into Harness

A very atmospheric tale about a little seaside village with a terrible secret. Presumably the first Steed/Peel episode produced, it features some wonderful dialog and some cute sequences, such as Steed's bottomless goodies bag. Opening with a sword fight in Emma's apartment is a curious way to introduce the characters, but it certainly does play to the men in the audience. Plus, there's a lot of very dark, stylish imagery. Trivia: Mother makes his debut in this episode, sans wheelchair. (Actually, he doesn't become Mother until Tara King arrives, and then only after another visit in "Something Nasty In the Nursery.")

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Dial a Deadly Number

Steed Plays Bulls and Bears
Emma Has No Option

Key businessmen are dropping dead, causing unsettling shifts in the world of high finance. The trail twists its way to an extremely creepy baddy named Fitch, a "back room boy" with a fetish for clocks. Sharp, clever, with some of the best dialog of the series. A rare episode in that Steed carries a gun, and uses it.

Best scene: Don't miss the wine-tasting contest, and...

Best line: Steed: "From the northern end of the vineyard."

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The Girl from Auntie

Steed Almost Outbids Himself
Emma is a Bird in a Gilded Cage

Steed is faced with the puzzle of why a pretty, plucky young woman is impersonating Emma, and it happens that, this time, it's Emma's secrets they're after. Some wonderful bits, such as Steed calling the fake Emma on the phone, and the taxi driver hauling Steed's junk around. This is the third-best Emma-watching episode of the season, even though her appearances are, like her attire, quite brief.

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The Quick, Quick Slow Death

Steed Has Two Left Feet
Emma Dances with Danger

A dance school turns out to be a front for an enemy spy infiltration scheme. Loaded to the brim with eccentric little characters--my favorite is the tattooist and his garlic sausage, although who could forget the Italian shoemaker gushing over Emma's "two pairs of foot"? If you're prone to getting annoying tunes stuck in your head, avoid this episode. If not, don't miss it, because it's a LOT of fun. Some of the funniest dialog of the season.

Best line: "Hate to see good beer going into orbit." (Steed, after he had just target-shot his "lunchtime refreshment.")

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The House that Jack Built

Steed Takes a Wrong Turn
Emma Holds the Key to All

Emma is lured to an empty house that is presumably willed to her by an uncle she never knew. The uncle turns out to be a deranged technology businessman with a lot of spare time, a lot of money, and a colossal grudge against Emma. The house is a mechanical trap designed to drive her insane, at which point she would commit suicide. An interesting, curious episode, quite atmospheric, with very little dialog.

Best line: Emma: "Where's the knight in shining armor?" Steed: "It's still at the laundry."

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Honey for the Prince

Steed Becomes a Genie
Emma Joins a Harem

It's quite, quite fantastic as Steed and Emma romp through other people's fantasies to stop a plot to assassinate the amusing, cricket-playing king of an obscure, oil-laden country. The baddie is particularly sleazy in this one, with some delightfully different music cues accompanying his appearances. The dance of the seven veils and the subsequent fight in the harem makes this the second-best Emma-watching episode.

Ayn Rand Embar Seddon contributes this wonderful tidbit: The producers insisted that Diana Rigg wear a jewel in her navel so that the program would pass the American censors, but it kept falling out on the set!

Note that on reflection I've upped the rating of this one. I haven't a clue as to why I only gave three bowlers initially.

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The Cybernauts

Steed Receives a Deadly Gift
Emma Pockets It

The third Steed/Peel episode produced, "The Cybernauts" was the first to air in the United States, receiving mixed reviews. Although the premise is certainly hackneyed (mad scientist builds army of robots to take over country), it is stylishly produced, with some fun dialog. The robot versus robot sequence at the end is a nice change of pace from the usual carefully-choreographed fight scenes. The karate teacher returns in "The Superlative Seven." And Emma "the Foolish One" Peel is sharp-looking in a business suit, even when she's delivering deadly kicks.

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End of page. Copyright 1996 David K. Smith