|Linda Thorson as Tara.|
|The one and only Mrs. Peel.|
|Rigg and Patrick Macnee.|
Rick: I haven’t seen the Honor Blackman episodes since A&E showed them in the 1990s. As for The New Avengers, I recall enjoying “The Last of the Cybernauts...?”, especially since it linked back to the original show. To be honest, all my favorites come from the Emma years and include the ones you mentioned, especially “The Master Minds” and “A Touch of Brimstone”. Other personal picks include the highly amusing “The Winged Avenger”, “A Surfeit of H20” (what a great opening), “What the Butler Saw” (with Steed as a gentleman’s gentleman), and “A Sense of History” (loved the Robin Hood part). I could talk for hours about The Avengers, but let’s move on to Danger Man, better known in the U.S. in its one-hour format as Secret Agent. The half-hour episodes, which ran from 1960-62 in the U.K. are pretty good, but I think the series took off when it returned in 1964 in its one-hour incarnation. It’s well-written and features some fine guest stars, but--for me--the series works due to the casting of Patrick McGoohan as the anti-James Bond. What say you?
Sark: Speaking of shows’ endings, what about The Prisoner? Not necessarily its final episode, but the fact that it ended so soon. I love having access to quite an abundance of Avengers episodes, as well as Danger Man/Secret Agent, but I can’t readily complain of The Prisoner’s short life, as it never wanes in quality. I think it would have flourished with additional episodes, but for how long? As it is, the series will forever be strong. Any thoughts?
Rick: It ended at the perfect time, though I think the final revelation is one of the all-time great puzzlers. My theory is that every TV series has a specific life span and rarely does that exceed, say, three years. After that, there may still be good episodes, but typically the quality of the show declines. The Prisoner was such a great concept: Retired spy is kidnapped and held against his will in a weird village as his captors try to find out why he left the spy business. It’s a fiendishly clever show--my favorite episode is the Western “Living in Harmony”--but the concept is limited from the start. No. 2 tries to find out what No. 6 knows, No. 6 tries to escape, he gets caught. There are only so many variations to this central plot. I think McGoohan understood that and envisioned a limited series. Yet, despite all I’ve just said, it’s not the plots that made The Prisoner unique...it was the Kafkaesque themes and the look of the show, from the Village itself to the clothes and the local “newspaper.” Well, that’s my take on it away. Where do you place The Prisoner in the pantheon of TV spy series?
Rick: That's a nice wrap-up to close out this discussion. As always, Sark, I had a blast hanging out at the Cafe with you and discussing classic TV. I assume you're picking up the check this time? Otherwise, I wouldn't have ordered the deluxe blueberry pancake breakfast.
Sark: Thanks, Rick, for an enjoyable look at television in the UK. Let’s do this again sometime. And don’t worry, I’ll get the check. I’ll just need a minute or two alone with your wallet.