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Full Cast Audios of the Lost Avengers Episodes
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Alan
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PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2014 10:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's never going to feel right that there is so much of Series 1 missing and likely never to be found, but I have to be honest, these audio dramas make it a heck of a lot easier to accept.

Once you accept that those episodes are gone, it makes visiting them in other ways so much easier.

My only regret with these audios was that they weren't done twenty or thirty years ago, when Macnee and even Hendry might have been involved. That's not to say that I'm in any way disappointed with Wadham and Howell - I'm not - but that it would have been that bit more authentic.

But sometimes, dreams take too long to come true for them to be exactly as you wish.
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PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2014 11:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alan wrote:
I know what you mean, and it is certainly something that often works against actors taking on roles which are so very linked with one particular actor. There's actually more of a case for any number of people playing Holmes because there's the original novels and short stories and every actor comes along and finds their interpretation from it.

Steed, while he started out on the printed page (the scripts), the character is as much Macnee's as the writers' as the creation of John Steed was a collaborative process. This is why everyone who plays the role will inevitably be compared to Macnee, because there is a lot of Macnee in the role as written. This is not the case with Holmes/Brett or Bond/Connery.

However, Donald Monat and Julian Wadham have proved to me that it *is* entirely possible to create a new Steed, which doesn't imitate, but takes the germ of the performance, the metre of the delivery, and yet make it their own.

Ralph Fiennes, on the other hand...
Fiennes was badly miscast, and Uma Thurman even more so. The trouble with Hollywood is they won't look outside "names" and so-called stars who actually have very limited repertoires, instead of holding auditions that will actually look for someone with the maturity and easy charm (with an undercurrent of steel) required for Steed - someone with the swordblade within his whangee umbrella, if you will. Both Monat and Wadham have that in spades.

By thinking they were not taking risks, the movie's producers actually fell foul of the biggest risk of all. That a big-name actor wasn't right for the part.
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PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2014 3:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alan wrote:
Thanks, Timeless. It was certainly something I hoped to achieve when I started investigating Series 1, but I never imagined that it would involve me in reconstructing the episodes, publishing two books and being able to sit down and listen to audio dramatisations! Beyond my wildest dreams! Smile


I think it was beyond pretty much everyone's wildest dreams, Alan! But we've been very lucky! Very Happy

Recasting any of these characters was always going to be tricky, but both audio iterations of the show have done a wonderful job of finding people up to the challenge who also manage to put their own spin on the characters, a difficult feat indeed.
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Lhbizness
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PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2014 5:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll have to listen to the Monat episodes (those are the South African radio shows, right?) and see if he appeals to my view of Steed. I have to admit that Wadham simply does not - although, having listened a bit more, I'm beginning to like Howell a lot. Wadham sounds almost too posh to me - I'm not buying that he's capable of participating in an underground criminal organization, or that he can smile and cut a man's throat. Not that Macnee doesn't sound posh, but he always had that undercurrent of dissipation and controlled violence that Wadham simply doesn't possess, at least in his voice. Macnee was helped by his physicality. I rewatched The Frighteners after listening to the audios and was impressed by how incredibly dominating and frightening Macnee's Steed was. He's capable of posing both as a idiotic escort AND threatening to cut a man's throat with a razor, and be believable in both parts. I don't hear that steel underneath Wadham's voice. He's not the Scarlet Pimpernel - he's just Percy Blakeney. So I am very disappointed in him. Beyond the "Macnee or not Macnee" issue, I just don't find his version of Steed terribly appealing.

Fiennes was just poor casting really - he's a fine actor and has a lot of charm, but poor direction and an even worse script destroyed any chance of being able to interpret the character as anything more than caricature. These adaptations at least don't caricature the two leads, but I do think some depth has been lost that can never really be regained. It feels more like a reboot and less like the "real" Avengers.
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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 1:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lhbizness wrote:
I'll have to listen to the Monat episodes (those are the South African radio shows, right?) and see if he appeals to my view of Steed. I have to admit that Wadham simply does not - although, having listened a bit more, I'm beginning to like Howell a lot. Wadham sounds almost too posh to me - I'm not buying that he's capable of participating in an underground criminal organization, or that he can smile and cut a man's throat. Not that Macnee doesn't sound posh, but he always had that undercurrent of dissipation and controlled violence that Wadham simply doesn't possess, at least in his voice. Macnee was helped by his physicality. I rewatched The Frighteners after listening to the audios and was impressed by how incredibly dominating and frightening Macnee's Steed was. He's capable of posing both as a idiotic escort AND threatening to cut a man's throat with a razor, and be believable in both parts. I don't hear that steel underneath Wadham's voice. He's not the Scarlet Pimpernel - he's just Percy Blakeney. So I am very disappointed in him. Beyond the "Macnee or not Macnee" issue, I just don't find his version of Steed terribly appealing.

Fiennes was just poor casting really - he's a fine actor and has a lot of charm, but poor direction and an even worse script destroyed any chance of being able to interpret the character as anything more than caricature. These adaptations at least don't caricature the two leads, but I do think some depth has been lost that can never really be regained. It feels more like a reboot and less like the "real" Avengers.


great point about Fiennes...right on the mark...it was an terrible trainwreck for both Fiennes...and the film. crash and burn.
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paulpdjh
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 11:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In case anyone missed it, Volume 2 of the audiobook series was released earlier this week:

http://www.bigfinish.com/news/v/the-avengers-volume-2-now-out


Also Big Finish have announced the line up for volume 3, which is out in January:

The Springers
The Yellow Needle
Double Danger
Toy Trap

http://www.bigfinish.com/news/v/the-avengers-volume-3-line-up-revealed
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 6:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It'll be tough when they get around to Dragonsfield, which seems to have been such an - ahem - visual episode.
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Frankymole
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 6:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm sure they'll rise magnificently to the challenge. They managed it with such a visual show as Dr Who!
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can't get shirtless Steed on the radio, no matter how good the production values. Wink

Now, that would be interesting as well: take the scripts and make a TV show out of them. It would bring back the visual element. There are probably a lot of licensing or rights barriers to that, but still.
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Alan
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 8:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lhbizness wrote:
There are probably a lot of licensing or rights barriers to that, but still.


Lauren, you win the understatement of the week award. Wink
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 8:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ha! I assumed so. But why can Big Finish use the original scripts and recast the whole show on audio, but no one would be able to do the same on video or TV?

(Not that I particularly WANT a new Avengers show - just that it's an interesting issue.)
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Spaceship Dispatcher
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The rights are still owned by the copyright holder and Big Finish only produce the audios under license; they haven't actually acquired anything.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 12:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spaceship Dispatcher wrote:
The rights are still owned by the copyright holder and Big Finish only produce the audios under license; they haven't actually acquired anything.


Same question, though. Would it be impossible (or difficult) for TV show or web-series to license The Avengers and produce the first season scripts as actual TV episodes, rather than just the audios? Why would that be any more difficult than what Big Finish is doing? (There's tons of reasons no one should TRY to do that, just wondering if it was possible). Given that we've speculated on what would entail a reboot/revival of The Avengers, it seems that making first season scripts as TV shows would be an interesting project.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lhbizness wrote:
Can't get shirtless Steed on the radio, no matter how good the production values. Wink

Now, that would be interesting as well: take the scripts and make a TV show out of them. It would bring back the visual element. There are probably a lot of licensing or rights barriers to that, but still.
You've triggered a thought, I'd love to see a small theatrical company get the rights to do a series of locally-presented plays - being studio-bound it can't be that hard to do Avengers season 1 stories on stage. Probably! If they can do 1960s Douglas Camfield "Dr Who" on stage they can do anything... and the intimate and involving atmosphere of a theatre stage would be a great place to do noir nouvelle. I bet Ian Hendry would be smiling on it.
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Alan
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2014 2:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lhbizness wrote:
Same question, though. Would it be impossible (or difficult) for TV show or web-series to license The Avengers and produce the first season scripts as actual TV episodes, rather than just the audios? Why would that be any more difficult than what Big Finish is doing? (There's tons of reasons no one should TRY to do that, just wondering if it was possible). Given that we've speculated on what would entail a reboot/revival of The Avengers, it seems that making first season scripts as TV shows would be an interesting project.


It's a question of scale. No, there's no reason why StudioCanal couldn't or wouldn't license such a TV series, but the problem arises with audience. There is no way that such a television series could recoup its costs because no broadcaster would take it. It's a worthy project, filling the gaps that are there in a culturally important series, but that counts for nothing in the television landscape of today. It wouldn't last five minutes on television, not if done authentically - and if the producers buckled to pressure and made it a sassy, modern production, it would miss the point with people like you and me, the fans.

Big Finish can make it work on audio as they have a consumer base that is loyal, interested in The Avengers and similar programmes for what they were, and are looking for sympathetic continuations or (in the case of The Avengers) recreations. They don't rely on getting a broadcast deal (though occasionally they have struck them with BBC Radio for Doctor Who), just on finding a relatively small but loyal set of listeners who will buy on CD or download.

Take it one step further, make it on video, production costs would higher, licenses would no doubt be more expensive, and they would have to satisfy 'bosses' in a number of organisations (StudioCanal, broadcasters, video labels, etc) and no doubt the product would be compromised as a result.

As it stands, Big Finish have to get the OK for anything they do from StudioCanal, but beyond that they are essentially working in-house to their own agenda.

I would also imagine that from StudioCanal's perspective, the licensing of a series of CDs which reach a small market brings money in without actually screaming to a mainstream audience "this is what The Avengers is", so that somewhere down the line they can produce or license an Avengers television series or film of their own and not have the CDs as a competing image of the series in the minds of a general audience. Stick a 'remade Series 1' on television, and suddenly they've shot their bolt for an Avengers TV series. Possibly.

Sorry if I'm rambling!
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2014 4:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alan wrote:
It's a question of scale. No, there's no reason why StudioCanal couldn't or wouldn't license such a TV series, but the problem arises with audience. There is no way that such a television series could recoup its costs because no broadcaster would take it. It's a worthy project, filling the gaps that are there in a culturally important series, but that counts for nothing in the television landscape of today. It wouldn't last five minutes on television, not if done authentically - and if the producers buckled to pressure and made it a sassy, modern production, it would miss the point with people like you and me, the fans.

Big Finish can make it work on audio as they have a consumer base that is loyal, interested in The Avengers and similar programmes for what they were, and are looking for sympathetic continuations or (in the case of The Avengers) recreations. They don't rely on getting a broadcast deal (though occasionally they have struck them with BBC Radio for Doctor Who), just on finding a relatively small but loyal set of listeners who will buy on CD or download.

Take it one step further, make it on video, production costs would higher, licenses would no doubt be more expensive, and they would have to satisfy 'bosses' in a number of organisations (StudioCanal, broadcasters, video labels, etc) and no doubt the product would be compromised as a result.

As it stands, Big Finish have to get the OK for anything they do from StudioCanal, but beyond that they are essentially working in-house to their own agenda.

I would also imagine that from StudioCanal's perspective, the licensing of a series of CDs which reach a small market brings money in without actually screaming to a mainstream audience "this is what The Avengers is", so that somewhere down the line they can produce or license an Avengers television series or film of their own and not have the CDs as a competing image of the series in the minds of a general audience. Stick a 'remade Series 1' on television, and suddenly they've shot their bolt for an Avengers TV series. Possibly.

Sorry if I'm rambling!



It's the sort of thing that would be well-suited as a web-series via something like Netflix or Hulu, if coupled with streaming deals for the rest of the series itself. But I definitely see why it wouldn't be cost-effective. It just seems to shame that the best we can do is audio, when it's obviously a visual as well as aural script. So when Patrick Macnee popped up with a bowler and brolly to augment the Steed character, we don't really get to see that shift - no one can indicate "bowler and brolly" with his voice.

I mean, I really don't want to see a new Avengers series or anything close to it - and I've made my feelings about the audio productions pretty well known - but it's an interesting notion given the status of the scripts. At the end of the day, what "The Avengers is", to me and probably to a lot of people, is what remains of the original series. There's only one Steed, one Dr. Keel, one Cathy Gale, one Mrs. Peel, one Tara King. I have difficulty thinking of it as an expansive or shifting universe a la James Bond.

I do like Franky's suggestion of a stage show - you could almost produce it without it being technically The Avengers, as very few people know about the first series and its inception (and it bears such little resemblance to what came after).
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Jace
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Amazon hasn't been able to ship my order of Vol 2 from Big Finish. Does anyone know if there was a delay? Or perhaps a delay for US orders?
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2014 10:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alan wrote:
To be honest, I haven't any problem whatsoever with Steed and Keel being recast for this. In some ways, it will bring the audience in gradually before (hopefully) they start making original audio dramas based on other eras of the show.

Keel is not that well known, even in Avengers fandom, so having a fresh actor playing the part should not be too jarring. Steed of course is a different matter, but I am sure that with sensitive casting, this will not be an issue. Donald Monat has proven it can be done and done well on audio.

I think this is a bold project, starting from a novel angle, and I for one will be supporting it wholeheartedly.


I feel the same way....I wish this project...smashing success
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Jace
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2014 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

has anyone in the US received the Vol 2 set? Amazon still can't seem to fill my pre-order. the set is out now, right?

thanks,
-jason (spy vibe)
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Alan
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2014 11:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Jace,

Yes, nearly two months ago. I ordered directly from Big Finish.

It might be worth you switching your order or contacting Big Finish to ask why Amazon do not appear to have received stocks.

sales@bigfinish.com

Best,
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