"THE AVENGERS With Ian Hendry, Patrick Macnee, Philip Stone, Catherine Woodville, Godfrey Quigley, Murray Melvin, Charles Wade, Allister Williamson, Moira Redmond, Astor Sklair, June Monkhouse.  Writer: Ray Rigby.  Director: Don Leaver.  60 minutes, Saturday 10:00 P.M. ABC-TV from Manchester.

This new fortnightly skein made a patchy impression.  As an opener, it failed to establish convincing motivation for the central character, and the careful realism of its settings and dialog threw into relief the trumped-up machinations of the plotting.  David Keel (Ian Hendry), a young doctor, was suitably elated about the prospect of marrying his receptionist, Peggy (Catherine Woodville).  Unknown to him a dope ring had delivered a packet of heroin to the surgery, making a mistake in the address.  They tried unsuccessfully to snatch it back, and then decided to kill Peggy, who could have identified the gangster who had bought the snow.  This they duly accomplished, and Keel decided to find the killers himself.

The trail led him to the apartment of a shady medico, who should have gotten the stuff in the first place, but he, too, had been murdered.  Then a dubious character named Steed (Patrick Macnee) introduces himself, so that he could make contact with the gang.  This worked, but Keel under Steed's guidance told them he wasn't doing business with them any more.  So they decide to dispose of him as well.   He was saved in the nick of time by the cops, and the instalment closed with the big boss undiscovered.

Trouble with the segment was that it didn't clearly illuminated the purposes of the running characters.  Keel just seemed a dope himself for falling for Steed's advice without asking a few obvious questions.  And Steed's ambiguity as an undercover man with the gang, yet somehow on the side of the law, just didn't make sense on this viewing.

Ian Hendry, who made his local television reputation in the "Police Surgeon" series, was sympathetic as the hero, and Patrick Macnee was dashing as his curious helper.  There was some fine minor thesping, particularly from Moira Redmond as an addict looking for a fix and Murray Melvin and Godfrey Quigley as subordinate dope pedlars, and an equal amount of ham elsewhere in the cast.

Johnny Dankworth provided a monotonous jazz theme, which should drive a good few to a fix before the skein is through, and Don Leaver's direction was sharp and crisp."

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