Hour That Never Was

Neurodivergence in The Avengers, Part 1: Hickey in “Hour That Never Was”

The Avengers is a quirky show full of quirky characters. Many of these are common-or-garden eccentrics, people who unabashedly love what they love and don’t care what anyone else thinks about either them or their hobby. But a few of these characters exhibit additional traits strongly suggesting that their behavior might have its origins in something beyond being a little odd or having a passion for a particular activity. Two in particular, Hickey in “Hour That Never Was” and Professor Poole in “Winged Avenger” behave in ways that indicate (to me, at least) that these characters might be neurodivergent in some way. There are also hints dropped throughout the series that Steed might himself be neurodivergent.

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Steed’s Shifting Worlds: Emma Peel vs Tara King in “Hour That Never Was” and “Get-Away”

Two episodes—”The Hour That Never Was” from Season 4 and “Get-Away” from Season 6—feature Steed reminiscing about his past in the presence of his partner, and introducing her (or attempting to do so) to very old and dear friends of his. Beyond this superficial resemblance, the way this works is very different in each episode, and each says a great deal about Steed’s partner (Emma Peel in “Hour” and Tara King in “Get-Away”), her relationship to him, and her relationship to his past.

A note: Some of the ideas about Steed, Mrs Peel, and time presented here—especially the idea of Mrs Peel as Steed’s anchor in time and connection to the present, and the function of Steed’s past in “Hour”—are from blogs by a fellow tumblr (celluloidbroomcloset), which you can read here and here. I also discuss Mrs Peel’s function as anchor to reality for Steed here.

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Steal Me Awhile From Mine Own Company: Steed, Reality, and Dreamscape Sets in Season 6

One of the hallmarks of Season 6 is the occasional use of color schemes and interior set designs that have the feel of a dreamscape or even hallucination. Although The Avengers overall deservedly has the reputation of being a “quirky” series that frequently bends reality to its own purposes, this move to a more stylized approach to color, set design, and set dressing is taken to its furthest point in the Tara King era. This use of what I am calling “dreamscape sets” usually focuses on public or commercial spaces that Steed and/or Tara must visit in the course of their work. Another locus for dreamscape sets are Mother’s hideouts, which can be literally anywhere from atop a double-decker bus to an underwater tank to a cow pasture, and which often are furnished and decorated in truly bizarre ways. I also see Tara’s flat as a kind of dreamscape set all its own.

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