Sometimes dismissed as a pale descendant of a great original, The New Avengers deserves a second look and is perhaps best considered as a largely successful attempt to re-imagine its predecessor for 1970s audiences. Patrick McNee was never the most convincing of action heroes, and the decision to make his John Steed the supervisor and mentor of two younger agents was a sensible one--Steed's virtues are style, wisdom and fortitude rather than physical prowess. Gareth Hunt's Gambit has an unattractively smug side, but has also a louche charm. Joanna Lumley's Purdey is... one of the most attractive heroines of genre television, astonishingly leggy and beautiful. Those who only know her later incarnation as Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous will understand now why such a fuss is made over her. The script team overlaps heavily with that of the original series; the new show has the same quirkiness, only occasionally varying it with a rather darker leCarrésque complexity or sudden outbreaks of Hammer Horror. If it lacks some of the sheer style of the original, that is a reflection of its period--the 1970s were less visually imaginative than the 60s. Tightly plotted, imaginatively cast with interesting guest stars, it is only with The Avengers that The New Avengers suffers by comparison. --Roz Kaveney [show more]
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