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VEWPRF Advent Calendar Door #6

The Avengers: Too Many Christmas Trees

The Avengers: Too Many Christmas Trees

This episode from the Emma Peel years is unusual as it’s a Christmas episode that seems to have taken part within the regular season. It originally aired on the 23rd of December in 1965 and like the Chef! special from earlier, it’s more a regular episode that happens to take place at Christmastime than it is a Christmas episode. Like many another such episodes it was also shot in late February. You always make sure anything for Christmas viewing is ready well in advance. It’s said to be one of Patrick Macnee’s favorite episodes and it’s one of my favorites too.

It’s like you expect Burl Ives to come around the corner and start cussing you out at any moment.

The story itself is fairly basic for an Avengers plot. I can only really assert anything like basic or average with someone who actually knows what The Avengers is like though. If you’re not up on The Avengers, you might not recognize how average this story line is. While they had good stories, I’m not sure that the writing is what kept people coming back to Mrs. Peel and Steed week after week. This isn’t to say that the writing is bad in any way, but the show does have a certain pattern to it. If you didn’t like the show you might boil the whole thing down to “Ooo, something spooky happens to Steed and he and Mrs. Peel just happen to go to the one place where they can solve it almost by accident.” Now while that’s accurate, it is a bit like claiming Hamlet is predictable because you’re told who the murderer is in the first act. True, but it sort of misses the point.

And they spelled his name right too.

The Avengers is about 40% parody by which I mean to say each show is made up of about 40% parody elements. This isn’t to say that it’s overly silly or campy in anyway, because camp was always deliberately stupid and even 40 years on The Avengers is extremely smart. In many ways it’s still far ahead of it’s time even if some of the shows elements clunk with age a bit here and there. Enough of me lauding the show with praise, let’s get to the episode itself shall we?

The man himself.

The main mystery here surrounds a series of Christmas themed dreams Steed has been having. He sees himself walking around in fields of cut out Christmas trees then coming upon a big basket of presents, discovering a picture of himself that turns into a mirror and then has Father Christmas laughing at him. In the dream where the episode starts, we get an extra bonus of having a colleague of his turn up dead. The dead colleague though, turns out to be one of the first parts of the dream that becomes prophetic. Elements from the dreams keep popping up through out the episode in such a suspicious way that one might think someone was behind the dreams.

You should always avoid spooky reverse silhouette Victorian mansions.

In fact, someone is behind these dreams of Steed’s, and they were behind the dreams of other men as well. The reasons as to why they’re doing this aren’t exactly clear, beyond some kind of experiment. Through what at the time seems to be chance, Mrs. Peel invites Steed to a Christmas party at the house of an expert on Charles Dickens. Of course they are lead right to the house where the people who are messing with Steed head are ensconced. That is what it’s like on The Avengers though, the show always has them bumping into trouble.

It said Happy Christmas before, I think they’re deliberately trying to confuse us.

The work is advanced when a stronger psychic shows up to mess with Steed’s head. Before they can get started on that Mr. Peel begins to worry that Steed is loosing it. This feeling is expanded by a visiting psychiatrist explaining that Steed might be going potty. That is when they start getting the master mind reader to get into Steed’s head. Under the guise of a party game, they work their way into Steed’s mind and mess with him even more.

That’s just wrong.

The problem with trying to explain an Avengers episode is that most the show is about atmosphere and the banter between characters. It’s fun to watch because of what goes on more so than what the episode is actually about. As a result, the show doesn’t translate well into the written word since so much of it is about the actors and the way it’s produced. This isn’t important to the story though.

Don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?

So after watching the group mess with Steed for a while, one of the members gets worried and tells Mrs. Peel that he’ll tell her all about it in a little while if he’ll meet her in another room. Now, the show is in black and white, but I know a red shirt when I see one. Sure enough, three minutes later he’s dead as a doornail and hidden under a lot of fake looking cobwebs. Sadly when Mrs. Peel goes to tell Steed he’s freaking out and babbling about his Christmas stocking. This puts both her and the mind control group off her stride and when she goes to the psychiatrist for help he ends up turning a gun on her. He does this because she was about to warn Steed that the drink he’s given is drugged.

The woman herself.

Well, it turns out the shrink is on the good guys side, Steed didn’t drink the drink, and they got into Mrs. Peel’s head in order to get her to bring Steed. Steed knew almost everything but couldn’t risk telling Mrs. Peel for the fear that she might unwittingly give the game away. Once we know everything, it’s just a fairly simple action scene. Steed gets bumped on the head and Mrs. Peel “pwnz” all the bad guys as the young kids say. This is possibly the best thing about The Avengers, at least in those years. Mrs. Peel saves Steed as often as he saves her.

You know the show if filled with images like this.

I won’t give the whole thing away, because you should really watch this one for yourself. This came as part of the Mrs. Peel Mega set about seven or eight years ago. It’s been re-released though with even more stuff than it had before and even in those slim pack dvd cases that take up half as much room on your shelf. I wouldn’t suggest getting the whole set for one episode, but I would recommend getting it and watching the whole thing over a long weekend off in winter.

Happy ending? Think again, its The Avengers. Despite what some idiots who made that movie might think, Mrs. Peel and Steed DON’T KISS!

December 6, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment