Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Genre Character of the Week: Dr. David Keel

Last week my friend Ron leant me a massive DVD box set – The Avengers: The Complete Emma Peel Megaset. The boxed set collects every episode of The Avengers starring Diana Rigg as Emma Peel (even a ’77 episode of The New Avengers where she appears in a cameo). As I am definitely a completionist, I started with the three lost episodes from season one included in the bonus disc, and thank goodness I did as it allowed me to see the only three surviving episodes of the first season, starring Ian Hendry as our Genre Character of the Week, Dr. David Keel (Pictured left with Patrick Macnee as John Steed).

As far as pilot’s go, The Avenger’s starts out with a bang. We are introduced to Dr. David Keel, a man happily looking foward to wedded bliss with his secretary/fiancé Peggy (don't worry kids, getting married to your secretary was acceptable in the '60s, just check out any season of Mad Men to see what I mean). Anyway, Peggy may have seen a criminal mistakenly dropping off a package of cocaine to her boss's office, so obviously she had to die. After seeing her gunned down in the street in front of him, Dr. Keel was out for revenge – unfortunately, only the first 15 minutes of the pilot still exist, so that’s all I know. It is fair to assume that he and Agent John Steed solve the crime and decide to partner up. Next we see Dr. Keel solving a crime with the help of his new receptionist Cathy (and without Steed at all) at a Russian circus and in his final remaining appearance we actually get to see him and Steed work together in the partnership that started this classic television series.

Unfortunately for people who want to see more of the earliest episodes, most are missing or were broadcast live, so there are no recordings, and there never will be. Dr. Keel comes across as a man with a strong moral compass, working to do the right, and is often in over his head, but with the help of agent John Steed, he did a lot of good in the 25 episdoes in which he appeared.

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