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The Lost Episodes - series discussion
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Lhbizness
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Joined: 01 Feb 2014
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PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2016 5:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure I agree with the idea of the script being a literary source (in general) or of The Avengers in particular. Film and television go through far too many permutations and creative processes to be viewed as adaptation - scripts go through huge changes, rewrites, and shifts before they're even put before the camera, and then are often changed from day to day as the filming demands it. (Even look at the large differences between some of the shooting scripts of The Avengers, and what is actually produced onscreen).

Steed is not a literary character. Sherlock Holmes and James Bond, however, were both clearly defined in the novels and stories from which they come - their characterizations were developed long before anyone adapted them to stage and screen. So there's a general continuity in characterization. Steed was only sketchily drawn - most of his characterization developed out of input from Macnee and the slow development over the course of the series. We can't with one breath say that Macnee was irreplaceable as the foundation of Steed, and then claim that he can be replaced. Although Steed changes over the course of six seasons, there's a continuity to his characterization - you can believe that the character we see in Season 2 eventually becomes the character of Season 6, or TNA. Looking (or listening) to Wadham's performance provides no continuity between his Steed and any future Steed - what's more, there is at least an implicit claim on the part of Big Finish that these are attempting to be "faithful" to the originals. How can they be considered faithful recreations without clear continuity? While I agree that it wouldn't have worked to simply make him a carbon copy of Macnee, a little more attention might have been paid to the development of the character - and I think that the disaster that are the comic strip adaptations bears out how fundamentally flawed Wadham's interpretation is.
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Spaceship Dispatcher
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PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2016 8:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lhbizness wrote:
...Steed is not a literary character. Sherlock Holmes and James Bond, however, were both clearly defined in the novels and stories from which they come - their characterizations were developed long before anyone adapted them to stage and screen. So there's a general continuity in characterization. Steed was only sketchily drawn - most of his characterization developed out of input from Macnee and the slow development over the course of the series...

It's not directly relevant to the issue of Avengers adaptations, but my experience of the two cited examples are somewhat different. I have seven different interpretations of Sherlock Holmes and every James Bond in my dvd collection; in my opinion each of them share only limited similarity either to each other or the original literary characters. The rule that a screen interpretation is unique to the production that contains it applies to all drama, so a new Holmes that channels aspects of a previous actor's performance is revisiting the actor as well as Conan Doyle the writer. Likewise, new television or audio drama based on classic literature or screen works will draw on the ideas of multiple preceding creators and create something new at the same time.

Speaking personally as a lifelong drama enthusiast it's a core belief of mine that all great productions from the spheres of literature, television, cinema, radio or audio, or stage should be revisited dramatically every generation or so in some form to give those successive generations of talent their own chance to be a part of them. If I were ever to say that the Avengers or any other popular show should not return with new actors, that would be a strong dismissal. I know others disagree, but that's how I feel.
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Lhbizness
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PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2016 8:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A general continuity of characterization does not mean that interpretations are not different - merely that they share the same foundation and reference points. You're never going to have a James Bond who isn't a spy, or a Sherlock Holmes who isn't a cerebral detective. They are founded in a literary tradition that, importantly, the viewer or reader can be made aware of.

Steed is a more fluid and nebulous character - and, no, I don't think that he can played by just anyone who cares to slap a bowler on their head. But I'm also not trying to argue that the character or that The Avengers in general shouldn't be rebooted or remade. The Big Finish episodes are in a weird position - they are technically remakes of something that no longer exists. They're not literary adaptations that the listener can return to or apply theory about; they ignore the foundational definition of the characters in favor of a reinterpretation that neither pays tribute to the original, nor constructs something entirely new and unique. They pay lip service to a recreation. Again, I don't think that we can listen to Wadham's performance and then look at Macnee's in Season 2 and be able to say that those two Steeds bear any but the most superficial resemblance to one another - e.g. they're both named Steed.
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Sam
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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2016 4:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I need to start picking these up again. I have the first set, but haven't been able to continue due to "budgetary reasons". I'm not the biggest fan of Wadham's Steed so far, although I'm trying to give him a chance. I love Monat's take! Anthony Howell is a great Keel, though. I'm looking forward to hearing the rest of his work as soon as I can manage it.
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