The Avengers: Mr. Teddy Bear review


Mr. Teddy bear is the first episode of the second seires of cult British Spy show The Avengers. The first series of The Avengers( most of which has suffered the fate of junking.) was more on the lines of Danger Man, or in other words, just more of a standard Spy show. But with the second series, there was a major change in format. To start with, the Dr. David Keel character( played by Ian Hendry) quit to work on movies. So John Steed (Patrick Macnee) was given the main role for the second series. The spot of his assistant was occupied by a few different characters in this series, who rotated every few episodes. Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman) was the most prominent of these characters and the one who features in this episode. She was also the only one to carry on to the next series. Another change was in the storylines, which became somewhat more eccentric, but I’ll expand on that later.
Speaking of story, this episode’s plot involves a famous author who is making an appearance on television, when he suddenly falls over dead. Further inspection shows that it was a tablet the man took the night previously which contained cyanide. The cyanide was used to trace it back to an assassin going by the name Mr. Teddy Bear. Gale goes out to find him, and once she does is surprised to find a teddy bear sitting at a desk. The bear speaks and tells her that it is Mr. Teddy Bear speaking, though not in person. He is controlling the bear and speaking through it. Gale orders Teddy Bear to go after Steed. However, Steed has a trap set to get Teddy Bear to show himself.
As I stated, this episode is a stepping stone in Avengers history. One major difference from the later episodes is the briefing Steed is given by his…superior I guess, we never get a real name. This scene is very reminiscent of the briefings M gives to Bond in the openings of the Bond films. The episode’s plot is very interesting. It leans more toward the eccentric side that the later episodes would have.(namely Teddy Bear speaking through a Teddy Bear) I found the scenes with Teddy to be one of the highlights of the episode. Bernard Goldman is really good in the role, and helps bring it to life. It’s also really cool when he’s speaking through the Teddy Bear. Another highlight is Patrick Macnee, who is (as usual) great in this episode.
However, although I found a lot to like in this episode, I also found a lot I didn’t like. My main issue is that I didn’t feel like the cast were that enthusiastic, other than Macnee and Goldman. The people at the intelligence place that Steed works for were okay…they weren’t really that bad, but they didn’t really do anything to drive the story either. Honor Blackman especially didn’t seem that enthused by the script. This is further evidenced by an interview, in which she states that she didn’t expect the episode to be anything special and just came to film “another episode.” This really comes across here, as( save for maybe a couple scenes) she seems quite tired. Many of these complaints could come down to this being live television. For those that don’t know, in the 1950’s and early ’60s many television shows were broadcast live. Usually rehearsals took place over the five days of the week, then recoding on Friday, or when ever it aired. Line fluffs were common(there are a couple here)but I still think the actors just aren’t that into it, and as a result, neither was I.
In the end, Mr. Teddy Bear is a pretty mediocre episode of The Avengers. On the surface, it has a very interesting concept, but when Macnee and Goldman are the only actors to really be into it, it falls a bit flat and comes out as a pretty average episode. Despite what I’ve said however, I don’t hate the episode, but it’s not really one of my favorites either.