Jan 13, 2018

Shane Black and Fred Dekker Pen AVENGERS TV Reboot

Well, the big spy news of the day is undoubtedly the potentiality of a Shane Black/Fred Dekker-penned TV reboot of the greatest spy series of all time, The Avengers. Dekker dropped the news in an interview with print magazine The Dark Side, which then hit the Internet courtesy of Screen Rant. There are very few solid details available, but here is what Dekker told the magazine, verbatim:
It’s The Avengers, with John Steed and Emma Peel. We’re setting it in Britain in the 60’s, and our approach is The Ipcress File meets Doctor Who. At this moment, it’s my favorite thing we’re working on.
That's all we know so far from the horse's mouth. (And I have to say... I quite like Dekker's description!) The studio appears to be Warner Bros. Television. We don't know if there's a network involved, but it might be Amazon, for whom Black and Dekker previously penned the Western pilot Edge (which did not go to series), based on the 1970s Men's Adventure paperback series.

While my gut reaction is to instantly decry any attempt at an Avengers revival that doesn't originate in Great Britain, that impulse is checked by the creative talent involved. Shane Black is one of the greatest working screenwriters. He rose to fame on lucrative action spec script sales in the 1980s and '90s, most famously creating the Lethal Weapon franchise. His spy cred includes the 1996 amnesiac assassin thriller Long Kiss Goodnight with Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson. In this century, he's reinvented himself writing and directing smart, funny, pulpy neo-noir fare like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and The Nice Guys. He's even made a Marvel movie--Iron Man Three.

Early in his career, Black wrote with frequent collaborator Fred Dekker, a partnership that most famously produced The Monster Squad (1987), which Dekker directed. Dekker went on to a less illustrious career than Black, but also earned his bona fides in the spy genre writing the 1991 Richard Greico teen spy comedy If Looks Could Kill and penning a glorious, but un-produced, live-action, 1960s-set Johnny Quest movie. The two partners reunited in recent years to pen the upcoming Predator reboot which Black is directing and the aforementioned Amazon pilot.

All of which is to say that The Avengers are in good hands. American hands, maybe, but hands I'm willing to trust for now. In all likelihood, this will go nowhere. But if it does, I'm willing to take the journey. It can only be an improvement on the 1998 feature film version of the series, which starred Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman, and Sean Connery.

Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg, of course, starred as agents extraordinary John Steed and Emma Peel in the original TV series. Steed's other partners included Dr. David Keel (Ian Hendry), Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman), and Tara King (Linda Thorson). The Avengers torch has been kept burning lately in audio dramas from Big Finish (including excellent recreations of lost first season episodes) and comics from Boom! Studios (including a recent crossover with the 1960s TV incarnation of Batman).


Mark Pontin said...

While 'The Ipcress File' meets 'Doctor Who' is very promising and suggests that these guys have a deep understanding of what 'The Avengers' was about, it's hard to imagine that they'll to find a way recreate the essential component that was Diana Rigg in her prime. You'd need somebody with more than the looks and the talent of an Emily Blunt or an Alicia Vikander, and they'll be unlikely to get even that for a TV series.

I saw Rigg on the London stage in Shaw's 'Pygmalion'in, IIRC, 1973. Rigg could have been a huge, huge star, but disdained Hollywood by and large for the theater.

Dave Brzeski said...

The casting will be so important. Personally, I think it's a mistake to even consider recasting Steed & Peel, but at least they aren't transplanting them to modern day America.

Had this been done earlier, I would have suggested Jaime Murray for Mrs Peel, but she's a bit too old now. I think Emilia Clarke could make a good job of it.
I suspect John Steed would be even harder to recast.

I would have preferred a modern day follow up with all-new lead characters building on the original series. Joanna Lumley's Purdey could be the new Mother. Even better, they could maybe get Diana Rigg, Linda Thorson & Honor Blackman to reprise their roles in an episode.

Jeffry Willis said...

The potential is exciting! I have been dreaming of a reboot featuring Eddie Izzard and Hayley Atwell.

Tanner said...

I agree, guys; it will certainly all come down to casting. (Should this project ever make it that far, of which I remain dubious.)

I like your idea, Jeffry Willis! In 2014 Bryan Fuller expressed a desire to reboot THE AVENGERS with Izzard as Steed, but I had forgotten about that.

I could imagine Hugh Bonneville or James Purefoy (somewhat against type) as two very different but both potentially good Steeds as well. For Emma my mind immediately made the obvious and rather boring leap to Rachael Stirling, but I think she'd turn it down. Jenna Coleman might be good, but she seems tied up with QUEEN for the foreseeable future. I do like your Hayley Atwell idea! (Though the last time she starred in a reboot of a Sixties spy classic the results were not good...)

Mark Pontin said...

Actually, Hayley Atwell ain't a bad suggestion at all. Atwell does have that 'something extra.'