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Saints and Avengers: British Adventure Series of the 1960s
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1. Read as a whole, it provides a fascinating account of the rise and fall of the British TV export market in the 1960s. I always wondered why there are all these great British shows that aired on American network TV back then, but none do now. This book provides the answers.
2. Chapman provides very interesting and well-cited academic insight into these series, examining their themes and cultural implications, and how they fit into their time, without ever becoming dry or boring. This book is not a text book; it's very readable.
3. Read in pieces, the book provides solid backgrounds and analysises of each program it discusses. The most pages are devoted to Secret Agent (Danger Man), The Avengers, The Saint, and The Persuaders, which should make sense to an American reader, since these are the shows most commonly available here on DVD. It is worth buying this book even if you are just into ONE of these shows and want to know more about it. However, I found myself reading every chapter, and becoming interested in the other shows discussed as well, and trying to track them down.
Overall, this book is an excellent overview of Sixties British adventure/spy series (as its apt title suggests) written in a very accessible manner. Highly recommended!
The subtitle is British Adventure Series of the 1960s and that is an accurate description of the purpose of this book. Chapman examines how the British TV series differed from the American shows of the same time and how these shows in particular typified the decade.
Even in the 60s, American television was a dominant cultural force, but British series such as The Avengers and The Champions were still able to capture a large American audience. For one thing, there were few spy series in the U.S., with westerns and detective drama more common. When Brit spy shows came to America, we were ready for them. (Come to think of it, I can't even think of any American spy heroes, fictional or not.)
Chapman also looks at how the shows belonged to the Sixties and couldn't succeed beyond the end of the decade. He points out the failure of The New Avengers and The Return of the Saint. On the other hand, it seemes that viewers in the Seventies were receptive to a completely different type of series, as The Prisoner showed.
Chapman's writing is clear and engaging, except in the introduction, when he gets bogged down in academic jargon. Don't let that keep you from moving right on to the rest of this thoughtful and entertaining look at some of the best television there has ever been.