John Steed, wearing his bowler and carrying his umbrella over his arm, opens a bottle of champagne. He is backlit and in silhouette.Welcome to Feather Dusters at 400 Yards, my blog about the British television series The Avengers. There’s a lot of cool stuff to explore in this groundbreaking series that spanned the entire decade of the 1960s: the characters, the performances, scene and episode analysis, technical aspects of the production, and more. Plus there are pages for Avengers fanfiction and fan art! So click on a tag or a category or something in the navigation menu, or just keep scrolling, and explore along with me.


Comments Policy

Dear All,

While I am happy to entertain conversation about my posts, and while I very much enjoy discussing Avengers with other fans, I am finding that it may be wise to institute a comments policy for this blog.

So from now on, these are the rules:

  • Commenters will get a maximum of three comments each per blog post. After that point, no further comments from that person will be allowed on that post.
  • That maximum is not a guarantee. As the owner and moderator of this blog, I get to decide how long conversations will go for, and whether conversations will start at all in the first place.
  • It’s fine if you disagree with me as long as you do it in a civil manner, but be aware that I am not obligated in any way to adopt your position on things, just like you are not obligated to agree with my thoughts.
  • I reserve the right to ask you to make your comments more concise before I agree to post them.
  • I also reserve the right to change this policy at any time.
  • These terms are not a matter for negotiation or public debate.

Here are some other important commenting etiquette points, generally, and not just for this particular blog:

  • Please remember that when you comment on someone’s blog, you are not participating in a public forum where anyone can weigh in at any time: you are a guest in someone else’s personal space. The blog owner—in this particular instance, me—has the right to decide who does and does not get to be in that space, and how long their welcome lasts.
  • Please also remember that when you are commenting on someone’s blog, especially if you either write a lengthy comment or are expecting the blogger to engage with you in debate about something they wrote, or both, you are demanding emotional labor from the blogger. As such, it is not fair to expect them to engage with you on your terms, or to expend additional energy on you simply because you think you deserve it.

I love the Avengers, and I love blogging about it and talking about it with other people who love it too, but my time and energy are both limited, and I have the right to decide how much of that time and energy I will expend here.

tl;dr: Good guests are welcome here. Be a good guest.

Flashback to Nee-San

In “Room Without a View,” Steed and Emma go to visit Dr Wadkin, who has mysteriously reappeared after going missing several years earlier. Varnals, a Ministry official, describes what he thinks happened to Wadkin: he was brainwashed and kept prisoner in Manchuria, probably in a place called Nee-San.

flashbacktoneesan.01We learn towards the end of this scene that Steed likely was a prisoner there. He seems to have an intimate knowledge of what the conditions were like, which he describes during a brief period of what appears to be some kind of dissociation. During that moment, Steed is detached from what’s going on in the room, from the other people there–including Mrs Peel–and is obviously in some emotional or psychological distress.

But Steed’s distress doesn’t begin with the mention of Nee-San, specifically. It starts much earlier, when Varnals says that Wadkin seems to have been brainwashed. There’s something about Wadkin’s physical condition, and maybe the fact that he’s playing with an abacus, plus the mention of brainwashing, that gives Steed pause.

He shrugs it off, though, and puts on a bluff facade, teasing Varnals for relying on official reports for his information. But the facade doesn’t last. Varnals explains a bit more about what he thought happened to Wadkin, and Steed begins to withdraw again. This time it’s not so easy for him to shake it off. His affect flattens, and he has a thousand-yard stare.

Steed steps away from Varnals, and begins recounting what it was like to be in Nee-San: the bad food, the sounds from the outside world, a clock that only strikes three. He’s clearly reliving time that he must have spent there himself.

It’s not until Wadkin starts stating “Three o’clock!” over and over again that Steed comes back out of himself. He can’t indulge his own pain about his imprisonment: he has a job to do, which is to find the people who tortured Dr Wadkin and stop them from hurting anyone else.


One of the cool things about this scene is that although Steed briefly shows a great deal of vulnerability—he dissociates, he explains in detail something unpleasant about his past, which he rarely does—he’s not ashamed by it. He takes it in stride as something he will need to deal with, something that will haunt him for the rest of his life. And while it’s not something he goes around shouting from the rooftops, it’s not something he feels compelled to hide at all costs.

Steed was at Nee-San. He was badly treated there, very likely tortured. He knows what that is like and it makes him angry that Dr Wadkin and probably the other scientists who disappeared had to go through that as well.

Steed is very in touch with his emotions. He doesn’t see them as weakness, and his empathy is one of the reasons he does this job, and does it so well.

This post originally appeared at sparklywaistcoat.tumblr.com


Fan Art Scribbles

I made my first foray into watercolors today. I used pencil and Arteza brush pens on Strathmore 117-lb mixed-media paper.


I had been working on this portrait of Steed in his uniform from “Superlative Seven” in digital format, but I decided to see whether I could paint it with actual paints. It really wants to be in oils (or, failing that, acrylic), but watercolor brush pens are what I have at the moment.

I probably won’t do more with this, since it was more a test case for how the brushes handle, but there are a couple of other caps I have that I think would work well as watercolors, so stay tuned for further developments.

Music Videos

Today I got a notice that Vimeo had taken down one of my fan videos in response to a copyright claim from the holder of the copyright to the music. I have disabled the videos on my Vimeo page and also have turned off the page that has links to the videos here. I now have deleted both the Vimeo account and the videos page here.

I’m looking into options, since I have reason to believe that these videos are transformative and thus fall under the doctrine of fair use, but until I can figure out what to do I’m afraid my vids are going to have to go dark. I don’t have the resources to fight a multinational corporation.

Life Impingement

Dear All,

Things have been busier than normal for me out here in meatspace for the past few months, which is why there hasn’t been much new content recently. And starting at the end of September it’s going to get even worse with no letup until around Christmas, so it’s unlikely I’ll be creating much new content in the near future.

However, I’ve got a few old things on my tumblr that will actually be new things for those of you who don’t follow me there: I’ll try to recycle some of those here from time to time just to keep things vaguely ticking over.

Hopefully during Christmas break things will calm down a bit, and I’ll be able to make progress on one or more of that gaggle of fics I’ve got going and maybe another blog or so. What the New Year will bring remains to be seen, but I’ll keep y’all posted.

Thanks for your patience!

Yours in Avenging,