December 28, 2014


Rodney Marshall stopped by the Spy Vibe lair to give us an update about his exciting new series of books about The Avengers. Like many of us, Marshall has a great love and respect for this cult-classic. But his inspiration to dive deeper started on a more personal note at home- his father, Roger Marshall, was a major writer on the show! In our previous interview, we covered his early publications and insights into The Avengers (link here). Acing as editor for a new series of books, Marshall has gathered a team of specialists from different fields to analyze our favorite 1960s spy show. Welcome back, Rodney Marshall!

Tell us more about the various Avengers books you have published and about this new series you have edited. 

The original books [Subversive Champagne, Adventure & Comic Strip, Making it New] were solely written by me and offered analysis of select episodes. The new series covers every episode in detail. Each contributor has expertise to bring to the mix, e.g. a psychiatrist offers psychoanalytical readings, a historian looks at mid-60s television, etc. Subversive Champagne tackled the episodes from one specific angle - how The Avengers mixed realism/surrealism, witty froth/darker drama etc. The new volumes tackle the episodes from a variety of viewpoints and look at issues such as gender etc as well.

What are some of the chapters that stand out for you as an editor and fan of the show? Who are some of the contributors to the new series?

These five volumes, three published to date, offer an episode-by-episode critical commentary and analytical guide. The idea was to find a broad range of perspectives: we have a psychiatrist, actor, filmmaker, writers, teachers, researcher, molecular biologist, web constructor, etc. They come from Canada, US, Australia, France, UK. The idea was that each would bring his/her own style and experience to the creative table. Among the contributors to the series are DVD commentary maker Jaz Wiseman, American cultural critic Lauren Humphries-Brooks, Australian television history expert Matthew Lee, and Avengers webmaster Piers Johnson. There is a wide variety of approaches, from scene-by-scene commentators to one critic who looks at Take Me to Your Leader from the viewpoint of the Seven Deadly Sins. 

Bright Horizons covers the Peel monochrome season and includes a foreword by Roger Marshall on serendipity and The Avengers, particularly the iconic episode The Hour That Never Was. It was the first volume in the series, but has now been updated to include a quotations glossary, like the other volumes. One major highlight is TV expert Sam Denham's exploration of The Murder Market through Freud, Hitchcock, and The Avengers as an ever-evolving show.

Mrs. Peel, We're Needed covers the Peel color season, but also includes The Forget-Me-Knot. There is a superb chapter on Return of the Cybernauts in which American Dan O'Shea argues that it is Emma Peel, not Diana Rigg, who wanted to leave The Avengers. Very cleverly argued. I also lifted the lid on my father's exit from the show and his final two episodes.

Anticlockwise, published last week, covers the Tara King era. It is the best volume to date, in my opinion, partly because Season 6 splits opinion so greatly and also because it is a period written about far less. There is the Seven Deadly Sins chapter mentioned above and two brilliant arguments pro/anti Tara King.

You grew up around the show (your dad wrote for The Avengers). Did you learn new things or find new perspectives by editing these books? 

Editing these volumes has reminded just how clever and innovative the show is, and how the best episodes - like an onion - have layers of meaning. My fear, in advance, was that there would not be enough to write about some of the episodes, but this has not proved to be the case, and often the poorer episodes have created the most interesting responses. The writers and directors thought they were making a piece of off-beat Sixties light entertainment; in fact, they were producing pretty perfect - in both senses - timeless art as well.

What’s next in the project?

The next volume, Avengerland Regained, will cover the much-maligned New Avengers, due to be published in May 2015. The final and most complicated volume, Avengerland Revisited, will then cover the entire filmed run through a thematic guide organized around topics like sets, locations, music, fashions, cars, teasers, tags, Cold War, Country House trap, the Art of Murder, diabolical masterminds, main characters, etc. That will be quite a challenge.

We look forward to these! Thank you! Spy Vibers, you can find Rodney's books on AmazonUS and AmazonUK. Enjoy!

Selected Spy Vibe posts: Road to Hong KongInside Gerry AndersonRingo Does GoldfingerSixties Beat WearSPECTRE AnnouncedPopular SkulltureNew Gerry Anderson SetsNew SECRET AGENT setArt of ModestyAvengers Blu-ray updateTokyo Beat 1964Polaroid SpyModesty MondayFeraud Mod FashionFlint Scores!Bond DanishHome MoviesNew Richard Sala BookNew 007 ComicsDesigning Bond BooksGreen Hornet MangaMargaret Nolan ArtNo 6 FestivalBarbarella Returns007 Audio Books ReturnDesigner: Gene WinfieldAvengers Interview: Michael RichardsonIan Fleming: Wicked GrinJane Bond Hong Kong RecordsRyan Heshka Interview, Comics Week: Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E.Comics Week: ArchieComics Week: Robots, Comics Week: Cold War Atomic, Comics Week: SPYMANComics Week: Jimmy OlsenRare Avengers ScriptsMan From Uncle UK ComicsMattel X-15Thunderbirds ComicsShakespeare Spies: Diana RiggShakespeare Spies I, Rodney Marshall Avengers InterviewAvengers Book: Bowler Hats & Kinky BootsGeorge Lois Design & Mad MenRichard Sala: Super-Enigmatix, Danger Diabolik Soundtrack, Cold War Archie, Playboy Bunny InterviewThe 10th Victim Japanese and KindleU.N.C.L.E. Japanese BooksThe 10th Victim German EditionThe Saint books returnTrina Robbins InterviewCatsuits, Batman '66 Green Hornet Interview: Ralph Garman Ty Templeton.

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