About Christmas TV History

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Avengers Christmas

The following is an excerpt from "The 12 Days of Cult TV Classics" listings in the book (pgs. 80-81) of holiday episodes from cult TV series. Below are installments from the classic British spy series The Avengers.

A black-and-white episode of The Avengers classic “Too Many Christmas Trees” from 1965 sees John Steed feeling uneasy after experiencing a week’s worth of disturbing Christmas nightmares. So Peel invites him to join her in attending a Dickens-themed masquerade over the holiday. Here Steed finds the origin of his Christmas dreams in a group conducting psychic experiments, infiltrating and influencing his behavior through his bizarre dreams. He and Peel fight off a masked, murderous Father Christmas in a room full of mirrors, foiling another plot to steal state secrets. Note their costumes: Emma is dressed as Oliver Twist while Steed is Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities.

There’ s also the 1963 New Year’s episode entitled “Dressed to Kill” where Steed is invited to a New Year’s Eve costume party aboard a train. Suspicious of the invitation, Steed, dressed as a cowboy, invites Cathy Gale to trail him. She does, cunningly hidden under monk’s robes. Sure enough, the party guests are left stranded in the club car at a deserted train station. They soon determine that the only thing they have in common is an appointment to purchase a parcel of land at an auction the following day. While they figure out that they are being prevented from making the purchases, they also begin accusing each other for the responsibility for the kidnapping. Could it be the policeman, the archer, Napoleon, or the pussy cat?

s fans will also be familiar with 1969’s episode “Take-Over.” With Tara on her own vacation, Steed heads to the country to visit friends and partake of the relaxing activities of country living, such as hunting and enjoying good food and drink. He’s expected by his friend because they reunite each February to celebrate Christmas--an annual tradition, Steed explains, ever since Steed and he were prisoners in China. They had made their own calendar and later found that they had over-calculated the date, and had been celebrating the holiday in February. But Steed’s Christmas reunion is not to be when he discovers strangers occupying his friend’s home, holding him hostage with a devious scheme in mind. Of course, Steed cleverly fakes his own death, appearing to drown in a mud pit. What latest plot to alter the world’s course is being enacted at his friend’s home?

Here's an interesting extra that's not in the book:

True devotees of the British espionage series may want to put champagne on ice and don a bowler hat in order to celebrate this Christmas in style. You may want to watch the British-made 1951 film A Christmas Carol in order to see a very young Patrick Macnee in the role as the young Jacob Marley in several brief scenes when Scrooge revisits his Christmas past. Critics and fans often agree that this version of the Dickens tale, starring Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge, is their favorite rendition. But just between us Avengers fans, we know what makes this version extra special. In at least one version of the re-release of the film onto DVD, Macnee himself provides an introduction to the film.

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