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December 25, 2005

‘You must be American and boring to contribute to this site’ 

Not that I have the time, but I can waste hours at the Internet Movie Database (IMDB). And today, to chill out, I decided to feed in a review of The New Avengers, only to find that the system has rejected it for ‘Your comment contains prohibited words’ and insisted on, for instance, American for words such as phoney.
   Most companies, when they acquire others, try to keep their intact. IMDB, being originally , seems to have lost that. It was once run by a bunch of Brits who accepted viewpoints, even those written in , from around the world. This latest incident suggests that not only do you have to write in American English, a form adopted by a minority of speakers and only barely tolerated by the majority, but that all humour and sparkle must be removed from the reviews.
   I don’t complain about the IMDB putting checks in place—it is right to do so—but it is in danger of crossing the same line many did in the 1990s. Then, banks things to such an extent that the was lost. It is only this decade that they are rediscovering their connections.
   By rating human below that of a machine, the IMDB encourages dullness, and it will harm its usefulness. It always had some level of checking, but if I were to insist that my spellings were correct, it would still let me through. Not any more, it seems. I have written to the company to inform them of my thoughts and asked them what is exactly prohibited about my review. Hopefully I will get a response, and by that I do not mean a -type one where the chap (?) has copied and pasted from an FAQ to get me off his back.
   Read through the piece below and see what you think. Please bear in mind the comments at the IMDB do not contain italicization.
If you were a child of the 1970s, then you will probably remember this as the definitive , and find the original rather odd. It’s not to say I dislike the original, but when I watched The New Avengers in the 1970s, it had that sense of realism and style that was very formative in my younger days.
   Technically, the 1970s saw lighter cameras and greater use of location filming, two things that made The New Avengers different from its forebear. These enabled the series to be grittier, in keeping with the mood of the time. Preserving the fanciful, “British ” ideals of the 1960s’ series would have gone sharply against the realism that viewers demanded in the 1970s. Britons (and plenty of people worldwide) wanted to see , not a studio mock-up of it. And car chases were de rigueur. On these counts, The New Avengers delivered.
   Purdey, not Emma Peel, was the first strong female character I knew on television. Columbia Pictures Television’s Police Woman seemed phoney with Angie Dickinson getting her gun out of her handbag; it was ’s willingness to do her own action sequences that made her Purdey character more convincing. You did not piss this woman off. The fact she did her high kicks while wearing , and not encased in PVC, did not seem strange; it was more her short hair that naice girls on telly did not have.
   And because I was introduced to the Avengers’ mystique through this series, I have always been used to the idea of 's John Steed being the elder statesman. The suggestive nature of his relationships with his female partners in the 1960s seemed inappropriate when I viewed The Avengers in re-runs (and Macnee once quipped that he felt John Steed did consummate his relationships ‘continuously and in his spare time’). The Gambit character played by Gareth Hunt was more my idea of the action-oriented British gent who had spent time in the military, though I recall both being relatively wooden, save for a few episodes.
   The spy story lines were entertaining, and I understand the original series’ fans being less than impressed. But they were a clever differentiation from the typical cop shows of the decade, and even though there were some corners cut (using old footage of Diana Rigg in one episode), I never felt cheated by The New Avengers. The style that Brian Clemens and his team introduced to this series kept viewers on the edge of their seats, and it must have been good enough to warrant a second season at the time—even if the latter was partly made in France and Canada. Even then, the episodes were not as bad as some have made out—Continental filming, in particular, gave me one of my earliest impressions of Europe. I don’t think I had seen anything made in Canada prior to The New Avengers.
   In many respects, The New Avengers was more a forerunner to The Professionals—one of the greatest British actioners made—than a successor to The Avengers. It had the same producers and very similar crews. By coincidence, ’ Lewis Collins and Martin Shaw guest-starred together in one episode. And, like The Professionals, it gave the sense that after an hour, you got great value. The same could not be said for most TV series of this genre today, made to please a and an accounting firm rather than the audience.
Apparently, according to the IMDB’s George, who kindly and very politely responded today, you can’t say piss in America without offending someone, in a country where you can show Dennis Franz’s ass on NYPD Blue on network television. That pisses me off. I mean, who gets pissed off with piss? And Dennis Franz’s ass offends me more than piss.  
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