Rewind TV: The Avengers “Too Many Christmas Trees”

As we await the latest Doctor Who Christmas Special, how about sampling another Christmas themed special of long ago?

I love The Avengers. I never really saw the repeats until I was in my early teens in the 1980s, but I thought it was remarkable then, and still think it’s remarkable now. It shares some real ties with Doctor Who in that it was also originally the brainchild of Sydney Newman, and featured creative talent, like Terry Nation, who would also go on to work for Doctor Who. It was also the show that first featured a sneaky screen acknowledgement of the success of our favourite show, with toy Daleks seen behind Mrs Peel in a department store in the episode Death at Bargain Prices.

This is the episode we’re looking at, Too Many Christmas Trees. For those unfamiliar with the series, there is an introduction just after this video for you to read, if you wish.

The Avengers

Steed and Dr. Keel
Charge of the Trenchcoat brigade. Steed and Dr. Keel

The ever-present character throughout The Avengers was John Steed (Patrick Macnee), who has partnered with a number of “companions” over the years, just like the Doctor. In the first series (1961), with Dr. David Keel (Ian Hendry), Steed was a shadowy figure with uncertain motivations. Unfortunately, virtually all of their adventures were wiped, demonstrating that it wasn’t just the BBC who could be short-sighted. The missing episodes include an appearance by Roger Delgado, which is ….disappointing (for me).

Steed and Cathy Gale

Steed and Dr. Cathy Gale

Hendry left after one series. He’d been disappointed that filming had been impacted by a strike, and film work beckoned. In 1962, Steed was partnered with three on-off companions. Everyone seems to forget Dr. Martin King (Jon Rollason), and Venus Smith (Julie Stevens), largely because of the third. Dr. Catherine Gale (Honor Blackman), was an independent widow of means with a taste in black leather, kinky boots (link to YouTube) and unarmed combat. Steed was still seen as slightly untrustworthy, but was allowed to thaw, to become more playful and demonstrate real affection. Cathy Gale was a revelation at the time. She demanded respect, and she got it. She was his sole partner for the third series in 1963.

Steed and Mrs Peel

The iconic partnership of Steed and Emma Peel.

Now we come to possibly the most popular period of the show, and up to date for this episode. Diana Rigg joined as Mrs Emma Peel, an old friend of Steed who had become a presumed young widow. Also kick-ass and independent, her period saw a transition to higher quality film, then to colour. The show often dipped into more sci-fi and fantasy concepts such as the robotic assassins in The Cybernauts, It became a minor sensation in the US with ABC buying the rights to show the first Emma Peel series in 1965 for a record (at the time) $2m.

Absolutely knowing in its approach to the emerging tropes of television, The Avengers started playing with them. The flirtation between Steed and Emma is breathtaking. It’s an astonishing partnership for many reasons – absolutely played as equals with a man and woman just comfortable in each others company.
Too many Christmas Trees appeared in her first year, in B&W. It’s actually the antidote to mawkish and sentimental Christmas specials, which is why I’m suggesting it. Elegantly spooky, a section of it features a Dickensian party, which it’s worth noting was a direct assault on what was seen even then as a TV obsession with Dickensian Christmas. Full of in-jokes, with some marvellous guest performances I don’t think anyone who dips in will be disappointed.
Crimson HorrorFifty-one episodes of battling insane Machiavellian fiends was obviously time well spent for Dame Diana Rigg, enabling her to study the form to play the marvellous Mrs. Gillyflower in The Crimson Horror (link to forum discussion). Coincidently (or not), opposite another odd-ball in a hat.
And yes, read that timing counter and weep. In 1965 you tuned into an hour of television drama and got only Eight minutes of adverts. How times change.

Buy it

Everyone should own some Avengers. It’ll probably improve your life.

Season 4 Individual Box sets are available for each Series. Series 4 contains all 26 episodes, including “A Touch of Brimstone”, an episode that was considered too kinky for a 60s US Audience (while being a firm favourite at Television conventions for industry insiders).The Avengers: The Complete Series 4 [DVD]
Complete Avengers Or you could dent your Bank balance with the Complete Avengers Box set. That’s all remaining 157 episodes in a gift set with more special features than you can shake a brolly at.The Complete Avengers 50th Anniversary Edition [DVD]


  1. @PhaseShift

    Thanks for this. The whole show was utterly brilliant, and for someone like myself, while Who on the 60s played to the childhood I wanted The Avengers played to the adulthood I dreamed about. It was heady stuff for a young teen in the 60s.

    I watched “too Mnany Christmas Trees” only last week. It is an excellent introduction to the show.

    And the opening sequence has great allusion to the best Brish horror movie of all time–“Dead of Night”.

    So much to say about it. My advice is–just watch it!

  2. I love The Avengers. I remember religiously watching the Channel 4 repeats in the 80s and thinking this was sooo much better than the New Avengers that I had seen in my youth. It was like all the plaudits heaped upon it suddenly made sense. Unfortunately, this is one area that Mrs Fish and I tend to disagree on and she just doesn’t ‘get’ the Avengers love.

    And this is a great episode. As @PhaseShift says, in true Avengers style it undercuts the traditional Christmas tropes and renders them slightly sinister. So I’m not sure that I would consider it a traditional Christmassy episode for that very reason.

    But it’s first-class stuff and the hallucinogenic mind games of the episode would be something that the show would revisit (along with just about every other adventure series of the 60s. What was it about that decade that it was so obsessed with ‘brain-washing’? And I guess that it would see its ultimate rendition in The Prisoner later on.

  3. Some general (and quick) thoughts on The Avengers. Like Tom with the Fourth Doctor, the role of Steed was a part that Patrick Macnee was born to play. He was perfect for it and not really much cop at anything else and with Diana Rigg as Emma Peel it really was the casting that often makes the show. They were a team who were a joy to watch, even in their most mundane moments. And Mrs Peel is perhaps notable for being the first female character in genre TV who was an equal rather than subservient to the main male character. And I suspect that much of the quirky confidence of the Rigg years came from the writers and the production team being led by the chemistry of the lead actors and letting the stories lead them into increasingly surreal and unusual places.

    For me, the Cathy Gale years were interesting but really rather pedestrian and Linda Thorson just didn’t seem to have the charisma to replace Diana Rigg and this led to the stories often becoming self-conscious of their quirky surreality. But like Tom with Liz Sladen, or the original Star Trek crew (and perhaps Matt with Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill) the strength of a particular team really led the show into great places for a particular moment in time. For instance, just look at that little scene in Steed’s kitchen at the start of this episode. It’s unlikely that you’d see a scene like this in a TV show today. It doesn’t really advance the plot as such but it just a wonderful piece of character work and establishes the rapport between these two characters (as well as suggesting that wonderful ambiguity as to the true nature of the friendship/relationship). It also smacks of a general sophistication that you just don’t seem to see these days.

    Macnee himself admits that he’s not much of an actor and that he allowed Rigg to carry him for their years on the show but I think he’s doing himself a disservice. It’s definitely true that Rigg is much more of a professional actor and that Mrs Peel is just one aspect of a varied, successful theatrical career (she’s also my favourite Bond girl of all time too) but her performance in the Avengers is incredibly generous and really allows Macnee to shine and find himself in the part.

    They both make it look absurdly easy, which is why the big screen version is such a disaster. (Although I must stress that part of me kind of likes it and counts it as something of a guilty pleasure.) The assumption was that you could put anyone in a bowler hat or a leather catsuit and that they would automatically become Steed and Mrs Peel. I love Ralph Fiennes but he was all wrong for John Steed. A villain or double-agent maybe, but not Steed. And Uma Thurman was all wrong for Mrs Peel. And the film made the prime mistake of stripping the characters of their camaraderie, their trust. It’s a much more fundamental part of this particular screen relationship than perhaps in any other. Their essential warmth was completely missing. (For my money, if I were making that movie or even a TV series I would say that only Jeremy Northam could really play Steed and that Mrs Peel would need a Keeley Hawes or Jessica Raine to pull her off successfully.)

    But it’s clear to see that Macnee and Rigg created a little piece of TV history here.

  4. @blenkinsopthebrave

    Many thanks! Like @JimTheFish I watched the repeats in the eighties after watching “The New Avengers” before, and it seemed groundbreaking even then. I struggle to think what an impression it must have made in the sixties, but I think you’ve helped address that. I watch this episode every year, and it’s always a joy.

    Among the many surprises to me were some of the Guest roles. There were some real “Holy Crap” moments like Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, and that marvellous “Superlative Seven” episode that featured Charlotte Rampling, Donald Sutherland and Brian Blessed, (who didn’t SHOUT!) Amazing. I agree with your advice to others wholeheartedly:

    Get watching!

  5. @JimTheFish

    The problem I have with Macnee is I find it difficult to watch him in anything else and not think “IT’S STEED!”.

    He was in the Alastair Sim version of A Christmas Carol playing the Young version of Marley, and that was my single thought on watching him. It also features Mervyn Johns who plays “Brandon Story” in Too Many Christmas Trees (which is one of the in-jokes with some of the dialogue).

    He was perfect as Steed though, and I think, like Tom, was just playing aspects of himself. He’s a genuine eccentric in his own way with an upbringing that must have raised some eyebrows at the time. What he can’t be faulted on was being a bit of a hero behind the scenes, winning both Blackman and Rigg more financially.

    I think that’s the problem with most attempts at recreating that dynamic in film, and the Big Finish audio. It just relies so much on the individuals involved.

    I didn’t touch on the Tara King period, just stopping at this era really. I think it had strong stories but, yes, she was inexperienced and there were some tonal difficulties. MacNee said that the public may have been willing to accept a replacement for Mrs Peel, but the writers seemed incapable of changing the dynamic. With Tara, the relationship was supposed to move to a more parental substitute, but the writers still threw in flirtations which he felt made him look like “a dirty old letch”. There is a certain truth in that I think, and it didn’t really work being a little uneven.

    I think that your observation about Matt Smith and Karen Gillan was one of the things I hoped might come up. When I heard their banter I was always reminded of Mrs Peel and Steed. Mrs Pond and The Doctor, perhaps?

  6. @PhaseShift — there are certainly some great stories still in the Thorson era and I think your (and Macnee’s) summation is probably spot on. The relationship should have changed but often didn’t — or at least not by enough — a lot of the time. I also think that a lot of the trappings of the Thorson era — Mother, the double-decker bus and so on — were too arch and self-conscious and the show’s previous excesses were carried off by the knowing exuberance of the two leads. When that relationship was not quite as solid as before, the confidence to carry these elements off went with it. I suppose it’s what they call jumping the shark these days. But, yeah, there’s still some ace stories in there.

    I didn’t know that about Macnee fighting for more money for Rigg and Blackman and that makes me like him even more. He seems like a genuinely decent fellow. I still have a box of the old ‘M Appeal’ video compilations which all have a little introduction by him on them and while hardly earth-shattering, they’re a nice little feature. I think you’re right that Steed really came into his own when Macnee was allowed to inject more of his personality into the part.

    Yes, I think that the Amy/Doc11 (12?) dynamic will be looked back on in years to come as one of the great TARDIS pairings, although I realise that she still has her detractors out there. I think their relationship definitely had something of the same verbal sparrings (especially in those little cut scenes in the TARDIS for series five). A Mrs Pond/The Doctor Avengers pastiche is definitely a missed opportunity and sadly now one we’ll never see…


  7. What a lovely idea 🙂

    This episode is charmingly flirty; as @JimtheFish says, the chemistry is delightful.

    I remember reading that Macnee’s personal “headcanon” backstory for the characters was that they were ex lovers, so, friends with a certain history. That certainly works.  

    Steed refers to Peel’s “fruit bat face” ha ha.  And the way Peel reacts to Steed’s flirtations with women; rolling her eyes with tut tut affection at his Christmas cards from lady friends, or at him giving a woman at the party his number, seems very self-assured. But then, on occasion, you see her face go still, or a teensy bit pouty, and you know Peel feels a little possessive still. Great acting from Rigg!

    Although the episode may poke fun at Christmas TV traditions, as you say @Phaseshift, the ending, in the tradition of television’s self-awareness ever since, has it both ways.  It ends with another dream sequence, Steed’s we might assume, but as both of them were affected by the hypnosis gang, it could be either (cue vintage ’60s audience squee) when the car becomes horse-drawn and mistletoe appears. It’s a laugh of course, but also a really Christmassy wish-fulfilment, both implied for the characters, and in deed for the audience, acknowledging the flirty and emotional dynamic between them for the festive season all wrapped up in “just a dream”.

  8. @JimTheFish

    Yes, Blackman and Rigg talked about it in one of the documentaries. There was much hilarity at another tale as well. When Blackman announced she was leaving MacNee called her loads of times to convince her to change her mind. When she mentioned the Bond film he’s alleged to have said “Bond will f— you once and leave you, John Steed is a keeper”. He said the same thing to Rigg as well, but added “and I told Honor the same, and I was right!”.

    I really hope that’s a true story.

    I’m going to watch this again tomorrow I think and will post some thoughts hopefully after a few people have a chance to see it and comment.

  9. @Juniperfish

    I’m glad you enjoyed! Had you watched much Avengers before?

    Your comments about the dynamic are spot on. I think while a lot of shows went for “will they or won’t they”, with Steed and Mrs Peel it was more of a case of “have they or haven’t they”, because, as you say it seems to have be a relationship that’s moved beyond that. I love the formal address of Mrs Peel which he uses more often than not. I always imagined he used it to remind himself that her husband was missing presumed dead, and any relationship should only go so far. When he uses Emma, it’s really to express deep concern.

  10. @Phaseshift Yes, I’ve seen some Rigg era Avengers before, but not systematically.

    Now I am tempted by the S4 DVD 🙂

    Actor chemistry is such a fascinating element of the experience of the screen. However good the actors are, there’s an unpredictable something which happens or doesn’t happen, and when it does it really gives the screen sizzle. It doesn’t have to be sexual chemistry – Tennant and Tate had great comic chemistry for instance. I’m sure @HTPBDET could have waxed lyrical about this.

    I am watching Marvel’s “Agents of Shield” with gritted teeth at the moment, because there are so many unsubtle attempts to create fan affection for chemistry between certain characters, but it is just all so transparently manufactured. Some wag on the interwebs has compared “Agents of Shield” to the “A Team” but dubbed it the “B Team” and that about sums it up!

  11. @Juniperfish

    S4 is well worth the investment with some cracking episodes. The relationship just crackles from the off. You get some really strong episodes that separate the characters as well. The House that Jack Built is a really strong Emma heavy episode which I love. The one I find the weakest is Man Eater of Surrey Green, but even that’s quite interesting in a way. Alien plant controlling people while it grows being funded by a bizarre millionaire with a plant fixation. If that sounds familiar, it’s by the same writer who wrote the much better Seeds of Doom for Tom Baker Doctor Who!

    I’ve been meaning to write something on the general TV blog about AoS, which I’ll try to do over the weekend. I haven’t mentioned it because I like to see how these things play out, but let’s just say “I agree”.

  12. @Juniperfish – yes, Agent Ward in particular appears to be an inert chemical reaction. With anyone. Not bad comic timing, but I keep expecting to discover he’s in the closet – because he certainly doesn’t spark off any of the women.

    I do enjoy the performances – Patrick McNee may not have a great range, but he’s brilliant when he plays to his strengths. He’s also someone who seems to find it easy to establish an on-screen chemistry; the writers should have gone with his instincts for Tara King.

    Didn’t like the plot – but I tend not to like the Sixties ‘classics’ like The Prisoner and The Avengers. In both cases I find them a bit too arch and ‘knowing’. (The Prisoner descended into complete self-indulgence).

    Oddly enough, I really enjoyed The New Avengers. 😕

  13. This was the first episode of The Avengers I ever watched. It when the repeated the Emma Peel episodes on BBC 4 a few years ago. I was channel surfing and happened to catch it, and after it was over it instantly became one of my favourite TV shows. I also didn’t think the film was that bad, it’s an entertaining mess. Also Ralph Finnes was prefect as Steed, it’s just he didn’t have any chemistry with Uma Thurman.

  14. @bluesqueakpip

    Oddly enough, I really enjoyed The New Avengers


    I really enjoyed The New Avengers when it was first on, but loved the original run more when I got a chance to see it. I’ve got both as box sets and the one thing that surprises me is that the 60s show seems to show its age much less than the 70s show. There is much more of what you could call a “fairytale” approach to the Peel years in that it pretty clearly represents a somewhat “hypereal” version of the UK. It’s something similar to how I view SMs version of Doctor Who to the previous one by RTD. I think the clear desire to represent the contemporary London in RTD will probably age it faster than the Pond run.

    As you didn’t enjoy it though, you “win” an opportunity to nominate something in the future for us to watch. I’ll talk about this later on, as I’m keen to widen the scope beyond my own DVD collection(I like recommendations too). 😀

  15. @PhaseShift

    The experience of watching it in the 60s. Yes, they really were the days. Try to imagine: you are a young teen growing up in suburban Australia where the culture was stifling and repressed. (The censorship laws meant that James Joyce’s “Ulysses” was still on the banned list, and there was a famous incident in the mid-60s when the Premier of New South Wales sent the vice squad into an art shop in Sydney to confiscate posters of Michelangelo’s statue of David, because its nudity was corrupting!)

    Into this culture comes “The Avengers”, where the relationship between Steed and Mrs Peel was sophisticated, hinting at something more. And Mrs Peel was both sexy and Steed’s equal. This is what I meant when I said that to a young teen in the 60s it played to the adulthood I dreamed of, just as “Doctor Who” played to the childhood I wanted.

    But it wasn’t just that. It was also that the writing of those shows was clever and sophisticated. As a young teen, I was not able to go to serious and sophisticated (“grown-up”) cinema, but I was exposed to shows like “The Dalek Invasion of Earth” or “Too Many Christmas Trees”, and when I think back on it, I think that experience was very important to developing my world view as well as my interest in expression and storytelling.

    But to shift the focus away from me to the shows, it is interesting that “Doctor Who” could adapt to the changing times, but “The Avengers” really was a product of its time.

    But that requires another post.


  16. Thanks @Phaseshift for posting this. Great idea.

    it played to the adulthood I dreamed of, just as “Doctor Who” played to the childhood I wanted.

    Just to echo everything @Blenkinsopthebrave said, but deduct about 6 years and substitute Scotland for Australia! Emma Peel knocked our socks off when I was in primary school. Between dodging cars as make believe daleks, we hid round trees with make believe revolvers, keeping a close eye out for spies with brainwashing machines!   Our TV had problems getting ITV so exposure was limited but tantalising. Loved the outfits, loved the sass, loved the often frankly surreal plotlines. She’s also the reason I learned judo, tho it took about 10 years for a club to surface in Scotland, and it was much harder than EP made it look 😉

    There was a series of TV reruns a year or 2 back which I thoroughly enjoyed dipping into. With an adult perspective it was fascinating watching the amazing no of brilliant actors who had early career appearances. They had even less budget than Dr Who and worked magic with that and usually a very small cast. And agree the chemistry between McNee and Rigg was sparkling. And extremely risque for that era.

  17. @blenkinsopthebrave @ScaryB

    Thanks for those thoughts. Whenever you look at the media and retrospectives of the “Swinging Sixties” it’s easy to forget that all that really happened in isolated parts of London. 😀 A lot of other places could be pretty conservative and grim.

    As I said, I found them aspirational characters in the 80s, not just because of their success and position, but for their easy going attitudes and clearly warm relationship. Who wouldn’t want a friendship like that?

    My dad was a newly married young chap when the Avengers began, and approved of my interest in old shows in general. Cathy Gale was his assistant of choice though, and he talked a bit about her impact at the time. He didn’t understand my admiration of The Prisoner though, and confessed he wanted to “kick in the TV” after watching the final show.

  18. @PhaseShift

    Thank you so much for this! Wow, did the opening seconds of that theme music give me a thrill. I absolutely adored The Avengers. I haven’t got anything deep to add that others haven’t already said. I first saw the show in the seventies, and even then, in that era of liberated t.v. women, there was no one like Emma Peel. She was beautiful, sophisticated, and clever, and could absolutely kick butt when required. I wanted to be her.

  19. Excellent review @PhaseShift. Thanks for putting this us. I watched The Avengers in my teens, mostly the Stead/Peel series. I still clearly recall the first episode I saw. Don’t recall the title but it involved pensioners in wheelchairs killing people. It was that juxtopositon of the seeingly safe and comforting with danger and death that made many of the episodes deeply disturbing. In another I recall domestic cats were being triggered to turn into savage killers.

    I can’t add anything to the discussion about the relationship between Steed and Emma Peel. Their “chemistry” sparkled and as a teenager I wanted to be Mrs Peel.

    It is the qualities of the show which make it a classic, that is unique to its time but still fresh and enjoyable now. The New Avengers was very much of its time but lacked the classic quality. It never really captured my interest in the way that the old series had done.

    I think it might be this very Christmas special that I last watched about sixteen or fifteen years ago. The familiar tropes of Christmas were turned on their heads in Avengers tradition. Our eldest, who wasn’t supposed to be watching being very young then had “night terrors”. We have not watched Avengers since. I must find some as I suspect he would now enjoy it very much, (as would his parents.)



  20. @JanetteB

    The episode of “The Avengers” with the murderous  little old ladies in wheelchairs was “Murdersville” (1967) set in Little Storping where the entire population of the picture postcard town are bent on destruction. Brilliant episode.

    Watching “Too Many Christmas Trees” last week made me ask myself why I did not have any of the black and white Mrs Peel episodes. As usual, Amazon (in my new circumstances, Amazon. ca) came to the rescue, and have promised delivery before Christmas. Hurrah!

  21. So, the Christmas Tree is up, and I did my annual watch of this. Suddenly I’ve recovered from my shopping trip and it feels like Christmas! Some episode specific points, I think.

    I know some people have a resistance to B&W, but for me it absolutely works for this episode. I can’t help but feel it may have lost something if it had been filmed the following year in colour. I’m obviously watching the DVDs, and I can assure you the releases have really polished up the film transfers. It’s particularly sharp and clear on the screen, and doesn’t look cheap at all. I think the lack of colour particularly help sthe stylised dream sequences and the “séance” scenes as the conspirators launch their mental attacks on Steed.

    What’s possibly lost in context from this episode if you haven’t seen or don’t remember many of the others, is how unusual it is to see the normally unflappable Steed off his game for much of this episode. Some of the usual banter is one sided and Emma’s perceptive enough to know something’s wrong pretty early on.

    Edwin Richfield as Dr. Teasel gives a nice turn, his aloof and disdainful opinion on Emma Peel’s articles automatically making you assume he’s a wrong ‘un. It’s a minor delight when you see Emma disable him, because he really comes across as a misogynistic arse. Her look when she learns she’s disabled possibly the one ally they have in the house is fun. Steed was always the professional spy in these adventures. His partners had their own interests and he called on them for their talents. While it was downplayed in this era, earlier he often didn’t tell his partner the whole story or plan (in this case for a very good reason, but not always).

    Among a lot of dialogue, I think this does contain a truly great in-joke, as Emma helps Steed open his Christmas Cards:

    Emma Peel: “Best wishes for the future – Cathy”
    John Steed: Mrs. Gale! And how nice of her to remember me. What can she be doing in Fort Knox?

    Honor Blackman (Gale), obviously went on the play Pussy Galore in Goldfinger, and was busy trying to rob it at the time.

    For me, this is part of my seasonal tradition. It’s great how some shows do that to you.

  22. @PhaseShift

    There are some of us who think that black and white is the superior palette for movies. Indeed, I am hopeful that colour is just a passing phase!

    “Too Many Christmas Trees” is a perfect example of this, not only for the reasons you give, but also for the way it refers (quite explicitly) to the wonderful (and, of course, black and white) 1945 horror film “Dead of Night”. You will recognise one important actor common to both the movie and the episode.

    If you look at this clip of the final nightmare sequence of that film (below) you will also see that there are uncanny similarities to the almost surreal visuals that would become the trademark of “The Avengers”.

    But there is a SPOILER warning to this clip in case you have not seen the movie:

    For those of you who have not yet seen “Dead of Night” and do not want to be spoiled, I give you (below) the opening credits of the film. Even the music is creepy!


  23. @blenkinsopthebrave

    Brilliant, my friend. Yes, Mervyn was in there as well. I haven’t seen it in full for almost 20 years, and you’ve reignited an interest there. I used to love the Portmanteau films (I mentioned on @JimTheFish s blog that Mark Gatiss and his “League of Gentlemen” buddies did a great Christmas special in the style of the Amicus and Hammer Portmanteau films).

    I think what dented B&W film early on in DVDs was that the studios couldn’t be bothered to rescan the stock to take advantage of the new format. Criminal really. In the last 8-10 years though there have been some great releases. When you see S4 of the Avengers in it’s current form it can make you splutter, because it’s just that good.

  24. @ PhaseShift

    When you see S4 of the Avengers in it’s current form it can make you splutter, because it’s just that good.

    Ah, but I have seen it (it arrived in the mail yesterday) and  you are right, it is glorious!

    Last night Mrs Blenkinsop and I watched the first episode of Season 4, “The Town of No Return”. One of the other themes that the show obviously played with was the idea that “traditional” England was somehow suspect and a site of danger. That comes through in so many episodes. In fact last night’s episode reminded me a bit of the Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost “Cornetto Trilogy”, which is similar in that way: that lurking behind “traditional” England is something that is dark and sinister.

    At least I now have all of Mrs Peel (in glorious black and white!) to keep me company in the long months between Christmas and the start of Capadli’s reign as the Doctor.


  25. @blenkinsopthebrave

    I hope your purchase gives you much pleasure (in fact I’m sure it will). I’d be interested to read your thoughts when you’ve enjoyed it all again.

    Great call-out on the Cornetto Trilogy as well. Hot Fuzz really plays into those notions. I can’t help thinking of the Avengers episode Murdersville you mention above to @janetteB when watching that. With Pegg, Wright and Frost being such geeks you can easily imagine they were influenced by that. I think I ought to add a “Spaced” episode to the review club!

  26. Really liked this.

    I like the way television dates, and sometimes date of broadcast is a better kind of category than genre. Conventions seem to come from innovations, and older shows work because they are not stagnant. But at the same time, different era’s do look back to the same places. This was very Victorian- Dickens Freud, hypnosis, later gothic…

    Martin (was it?) and Jeremy’s scenes, especially their first one reminded me a little of ‘Rope’. Not that the situation was the same but there was an air… and then the gun fight in the hall of mirrors. (That’s always fun). The round table is so beautifully shot, and I think we don’t mind that Mrs Peel looks out just at the right time and they chose that particular spot to spike the drink, because it works within the episode. (You’d never get away with that timing now).

    I Agree with @JimTheFish about the dynamic between the two. And Doctor-Amy (though personally, I think they needed the Rory counter-balance every now and then). There really is an equal partnership here. (In a way there isn’t quite, whichever the sex of the companion in DW. In DW the companion can sometimes seem ‘better’ than the doctor, but is never the same. It’s not sexist, it’s sort of the point of the show. a developing, mutual need between human beings and a renegade Timelord.)

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