Welcome

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.

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… And Another Thing

In the Season 6 episode, “Have Guns Will Haggle,” Tara King gets caught by the baddies and handcuffed to an ammunition crate.

But first please let us notice that she has a kilt pin on her skirt. (A kilt pin is basically a big honking safety pin, for those who don’t know.)

When Tara gets caught and handcuffed, she does … nothing.

She sits there and waits for Steed to rescue her. She doesn’t even try to remove the kilt pin, never mind use it to pick the lock herself.

Then when Steed arrives, the first thing he does is remove the pin and use it to pick the lock. Damsel rescued!

I’m not even gonna bitch about Tara being passive here, because this is just sloppy, sloppy writing. It’s also an excuse to get that shot of Tara’s legs, with Steed plucking at her skirt, which is kinda gross. It’s a crying shame that the writers and producers of Season 6 had so little respect for their own characters and their own show that they allowed this kind of stuff to go forward.


a version of this post originally appeared on my tumblr

“You’re Pretty Good, for a Girl”: Thoughts on the Subversion of Gendered Tropes in “Warlock”

Storytelling in many ways is simply the repetition and reworking of tropes, some of which have been in circulation as long as humans have been telling stories. The hero and the villain, the beast that must be slain, the damsel in the tower, and many others form the canvas or skeleton upon which new tales are created and fleshed out. One common trope (in modern times, at least) is that of the ambitious, skilled female who wants to join in male activities, only to be ignored or told that she’s not welcome, because she’s a girl. Stories based on this trope usually involve the female having to prove that she’s just as badass, or even more badass, than the males, in order to win their respect, if not admiration. I am here calling this the “you’re pretty good, for a girl” (YPGFG) trope.

YPGFG functions simultaneously as subversion and as reinforcement of traditional gender roles. It is subversive because it allows the female character to assume a putatively “male/masculine” role. However, this subversion ultimately is built on a foundation of male/masculine hegemony, because it makes the degree to which the female is able to enact male/masculine behaviors the degree to which she becomes acceptable and worthy, which in turn depends on the assumption that male/masculine is both the default and the better part.

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Emma’s Date With George Miles as Critique of Rape Culture in “What the Butler Saw”

 ⊕ Content notice for discussion of sexual assault and mentions of rape

“Emma, Darling, You Look Ravishing”

Secrets have been mysteriously leaking to the opposition, and the primary suspects are all highly placed military officers—a vice admiral in the Royal Navy, a major general in the Royal Army, and a group commander in the Royal Air Force—each with his own potentially exploitable personal weakness. Group Commander George Miles is known as something of a Lothario, so Steed asks Mrs Peel to use her feminine wiles to see whether she can’t worm some information out of him. Mrs Peel obliges, managing to wangle a date with Miles at his home. Steed, meanwhile, goes under cover as Miles’ butler, to see whether he can find any info himself and also to be on hand to protect Mrs Peel in case the date gets ugly.

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What Price Steed?

A shadowy enemy agent named PSEV has been giving the Ministry fits and conniptions, so Steed comes up with a cunning plan to figure out who PSEV really is and put a stop to their machinations. To do this, Steed pretends to be his own evil twin, a man called “Webster.” The idea is to get PSEV to accept Webster as someone who could impersonate Steed and, once he is in their confidence as Webster, Steed will be able to unmask them.

Steed’s plan involves creating Webster as a fashion model, and then sending tickets to the show to PSEV. Of course PSEV themselves don’t go, because in actuality PSEV is a collection of four enemy agents who have created the fiction of PSEV as a way to divert attention from their own activities. So the four agents who speak for the fictional PSEV decide to send Ambassador Brodny and an aide named Ivenko, to see whether there are any fashions at the show that the mythical PSEV might like to wear.

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