The New Avengers in Canada
Disclaimer: I don't own The New Avengers, nor the characters of Mike Gambit, Purdey, and John Steed. They're the property of The Avengers (Film and TV) Enterprises. This story is written for entertainment purposes only. No copyright infringement intended.
Timeline: Takes place during the final four episodes of the series-Complex, The Gladiators, Emily, and Forward Base-which were filmed in Canada, mainly in Toronto.
Author's Note: 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of The New Avengers. The exact cause of its demise is still somewhat unclear. The cast and crew travelled to Toronto to film what was intended to be seven episodes in exchange for Canadian financial backing, but production sputtered to a halt after only four had been completed. There were other mooted ideas, but these never reached fruition, and though attempts to revive the series for a third season continued throughout the seventies and into the early eighties, the Canadian episodes proved to be the end of The New Avengers, and to this day the end of new episodes of The Avengers on television.
The Canadian episodes have been much-maligned, and indeed they do not constitute the series' strongest run of episodes. But there are bright spots, namely the very enjoyable Forward Base and pockets of Complex and Emily and even The Gladiators, all of which have some excellent exchanges and dynamics between the leads. As 2017 marks 40 years since the series' second season and Canadian sojourn, as well as the 150th birthday of the home and native land of Sydney Newman, Linda Thorson, and (for much of the 1950s) Patrick Macnee, I thought it would be fun to do a set of short stories revolving around Steed, Purdey, and Gambit's extended North American sojourn.
Gambit could feel the sweat trickling between his shoulderblades, even as he set the oversized bottle of water on the convenience store counter. How on earth had he forgotten not just how hot, but how bloody humid Toronto got in the summer? As he'd told Purdey, this wasn't his first visit to Canada, or to the country's largest city. He'd known that the whole "Great White North" byline went out the window as soon as the planet tilted the right way. But the last time he was in this city, in the summer, he was 21, an age when the heat just sort of rolled off the body as one bounded through life at the fastest clip one could. This was a sign he was getting old, he supposed.
The girl behind the counter, on the other hand, had long ago learned her lesson, and was suitably attired in a pair of short shorts and a tank top that barely-registered in his dehydrated state. She quirked an eyebrow at his rolled up shirtsleeves in an expression that universally translated as, "What kind of idiot are you?" Gambit grinned sheepishly and set about fishing some brightly-coloured, albeit slightly damp, Canadian money from his wallet.
He looked to his left while the girl counted out his change, and caught sight of Steed, perusing his copy of the "Toronto Star." The pit stop was for Gambit's water alone, but Steed had suggested that they may as well all climb out of the rented TR7 and stretch their legs while they had a chance. Steed's wardrobe hadn't adjusted a jot for their jaunt across the pond—three piece suit, Chelsea boots, bowler, and brolly were all accounted for, but not a drop of sweat had broken out across the man's brow. Gambit wondered idly if the man had an air-conditioner built into his hat, chalked the musing up to a fever dream, and then vowed to listen out for humming when they got back to the car.
Gambit accepted his change from the still-unimpressed girl and nodded his thanks. He took his water and did a quick about-face at the sound of a tell-tale slurp as Purdey chased the dregs of the milkshake she'd cheerfully decided she wanted about a half-hour ago. She was idly eyeing up the ketchup crisps, which she'd had so many of already he was surprised her entire mouth wasn't permanently dyed red, and wearing a flimsy summer dress that he unfortunately wasn't in shape to appreciate. Her and her strappy heels certainly weren't suffering in the heat, the milkshake having undoubtedly brought her temperature down a degree or two. She turned his way as he approached, water in hand, and said, "I can pour that over your head if you like."
"Thanks, but I can always jump in the lake if I get that desperate."
"That was my next suggestion," Purdey said cheerfully. "Steed, shouldn't we be going?"
Steed looked up from his newspaper and checked his watch. "Yes, indeed," he agreed. "Are you still up to driving, Gambit?"
Gambit, who was busy fantasising about his nicely-sealed hotel room and seriously considering entering into a committed relationship with its air-conditioner, watched his colleagues file out. He took a long pull of water and decided that, until his brain quit boiling, he hated them rather a lot.
Later, in a blessedly cool pub, Gambit rested his head in his folded arms, as Purdey observed, "It's taking rather a long time to get our drinks, isn't it?"
"As long as they leave the air-con on, they can take as long as they like," Gambit mumbled into his arms.
"A/C, Gambit," Purdey corrected. "They call it A/C here."
Gambit made a noise that it made it quite clear to Purdey he didn't much care what it was called. "Well, see if I ever go with you to the Bahamas," she sniffed.
It took Gambit the better part of an hour to shift the image of Purdey in a bikini out of his head after that, but at least it got him smiling again. It was the little things, after all.