"THE AVENGERS (Mr. Teddy Bear) with Patrick Macnee, Honor Blackman, Douglas Muir, Bernard Goldman, John Ruddock, Michael Robbins, John Horsley, Tim Briton, Kenneth Keeling, Michael Collins, Sarah Maxwell.  Producer: Leonard White.   Director: Richmond Harding.  Writer: Martin Woodhouse.  60 minutes, Saturday, 10.30 P.M.  ABC-TV from Manchester.

A major personnel change was the main difference in this returned thriller skein.  THE AVENGERS were originally a couple of daredevil hombres who shared the perils in alternate segments.  Now John Steed (Patrick Macnee), who remains, is joined by a femme agent, Catherine Gale (Honor Blackman), and the coupling had quite an edge in this opener.

Steed, an undercover criminal catcher, has a fund of insolence and reckless good looks.  As Macnee plays him, he's a positive and eye-catching figure, although he does seem inclined to overdo the nonchalant imprudence in this one.  The hinted romantic undertones with Cathy, who worked with him, gave extra bite.

The story concerns the hunt for a master-minding crook, Mr. Teddy Bear (Bernard Goldman) who would murder anyone for a price.  He's cleverly killed a double agent during a TV interview, and this neat opening led to Cathy tracking him down and hiring him to murder Steed.  In a deserted mansion, the crook spoke to her through a closed circuit television, the mike being hidden in a toy bear.  The murder attempt was made by smearing Steed's telephone with poison -- but it didn't come off, natch.  The climax came with the crook trapped with Cathy in a locked room, his only escape suicide.

The action was energetic and satisfying, and the script was nicely supplied with apt lines.  Loose ends, which existed, didn't obstrude in a production that relied on speed rather than logic.  Richmond Harding's direction didn't loiter and Honor Blackman scored as the cucumber cool Catherine Gale, provocatively clad.   Minor thesps were fine with Bernard Goldman standing out as the ominous death-dealer."

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