This is really a postscript to my survey of science fiction in The Avengers a couple of months back. Since then I’ve watched The New Avengers and I felt I ought to remark on the science fiction therein. There are far fewer episodes, so consequently there are fewer scifi episodes, but in the interests of completeness, here we go.
This is a field that features quite heavily in The New Avengers. The very first episode, Eagle’s Nest, concerns the revival of an infamous historical figure, whilst K is for Kill Part One The Tiger Awakens and K is for Kill Part Two Tiger by the Tail involve suspended armies revived by satellite signals received via cranial implants. It’s none too consistent – in the first case, it’s necessary to kidnap Peter Cushing to facilitate the revival; in the second, it’s entirely remote control with no indication of how the sleepers are kept hidden, let alone hydrated…
Also on the advanced biological side, The Midas Touch goes one step further than You’ll Catch Your Death in which the common cold was weaponised. This time victims are infected with multiple diseases (“yes, Mr Gambit, they died of everything”) via a carrier who is dosed up on drugs. Ummm…
Slightly more carefully thought through is the sleeping agent that can be deployed over a wide area in Sleeper. Delivered by an aircraft, it renders all subjects unconscious for a few hours.
This was one of the staples of the original series features in the only direct sequel Last of the Cybernauts…?? (unfortunately, that title break Betteridge’s law). It’s more basic physical augmentation than the fancy neurological stuff we’ve seen before, but it’s still advanced engineering.
I’m not sure it quite counts as augmentation, because the birds are unmodified, but in Cat Among the Pigeons it is assumed they have a level of intelligence that enables communication and manipulation of them as a flock. Umm…
Then there’s plastic surgery. Not really sci-fi, except for how they effectively perfect doppelgängers in Faces. That would be impressive – if the recruits weren’t played by the same actors in the first place…
Almost as a counterpart to Mission… Highly Improbable we have things getting bignified by a special formula in Gnaws. It’s never quite clear how this works, or how quickly, or why it embiggens and entire spider or rat, but only the fruit of the tomato…
Recollection of dehydration and exhaustion in Angels of Death effectively scare people to death. I’m not sure if I should count this as sci-fi, though, as I didn’t include Death’s Door from the original series.
Complex. An intelligent building.
Is It Any Good?
Actually, some of the sci-fi seems to suit The New Avengers. Though some of it is terrible. And with so few episodes, it’s hard to spot a pattern.
However, most of the sci-fi episodes are in the first series of the show, so it does seem that where the original show veered towards sci-fi later in its run, The New Avengers toyed with it (and not without success, as episodes like Sleeper show) but then went the other way.
Episodes like Gnaws and Complex that put sci-fi at the heart of the plot are unrewarding. As before, sci-fi has to be a peripheral element.