Written by Brian Clemens Directed by James Hill
Transmitted 1 April 1967
A pair of former matinee idols join forces with a deranged film director to make an unparalleled epic. After searching for the ideal star, they find that Emma Peel fits the bill to perfection. Filmmaker Z.Z. von Schnerk goes to great pains to capture Emma Peel’s image through various hidden cameras before abducting her and placing the capable woman in a mind-bending scenario.
Peel awakens in a strange film studio and stumbles through her own wedding, then her own funeral. Fallen actor Stewart Kirby, played by Peter ‘Jason King’ Wyngarde, dons one costume after another as the trio attempt to break Mrs. Peel’s psyche and capture it on celluloid. At one point, von Schnerk has an epiphany and declares that Mrs. Peel’s death will be a masterpiece, envisioning alogo not dissimilar to MGM’s banner circling her face.
Of course Emma dutifully roars like an iconic lion.
There is a lovely dream-like quality to the Avengers that makes it both comforting and surreal at the same time. The threats are real, psychotics seem bent on world domination or worse… or weirder… and through it all John Steed and Mrs. Peel are never deterred or unsettled. I came to the Avengers late in my teens, having missed it on syndication. I struggled for years to find an ‘in’ to the program, to understand the narrative, the continuity and such, as I had Doctor Who. It took me a long while to understand that these qualities were slim at best in The Avengers and that it functioned on a very different level.
Primarily a story focused on Emma Peel, she actually says very little throughout the adventure. In fact, there is little dialog overall. The result is a head-trip of television nightmarish visions. There are so many wonderful episodes of the Avengers, but I really dig this one. Full of bizarre visuals, strange characters and a superb guest cast, Epic stands out as one of the best.