Saturday, March 19, 2011

Still Needed After All These Years

March is definitely "Avengers" month. The show debuted on ABC on Thursday Night March 28th, 1966. March 20th two years later Diana Rigg's last episode was shown on ABC(first run, it has been shown countless times since.) Since tomorrow is March 20th, it is an anniversary of sorts. Her leaving the show had a profound effect on me. Realizing there were going to be no new Emma Peel episodes, I thought of taking up martial arts, a main theme for her and the show. That eventually led me to aikido.

I guess with the years we must begin to separate out the character of Emma Peel from the actress who played her. Emma Peel is an ageless, immortal social archetype. So many women who have made a real impact on society cite Diana Rigg's Emma Peel as being influential in their lives. Diana Rigg herself is an actress now in her early 70's(she is 10 years older than I) and I hope she is doing quite well. She is one of our greatest actors, having been made a Dame of the British Empire, winner of a Tony award, 1 Emmy(she should have won 3 for Emma Peel), and still, I think, active on stage.

Both are very similar. Emma Peel was a futuristic, space age heroine who dabbled in nuclear physics, avant garde art, fencing , martial arts, modeling......You name it, Emma could do it. During the run of the show a widow, she had a very modern relationship with John Steed. Diana Rigg has led an equally independent life, being the first actress of note to play a nude scene in a play(Abelard and Heloise) and again later in Tom Stoppard's "Jumpers". She has her sun in Cancer conjuncted by Mars(energy, assertion, aggression, according to Andrea Mallis important for an athlete or for playing a physical role like Emma Peel)and also by Pluto(power). So she has a lot of the same characteristics as her character.

One would wonder what Mrs Peel would be doing at age 70? I'm sure still active physically, mentally, and spiritually. Maybe she would have gone into science and solved the unified field theory that eluded Albert Einstein. Or maybe she is a tri-athlete setting records for her age group. Maybe she would have taken up Aikido. I am sure she would be a 9th dan(they are no longer awarding 10th dan). Maybe she would have gone into economics and created a global sustainable economy.

One of the show's trade marks of its second season(in color in contrast to the first which was black and white) were the little vignettes at the beginning of the show. Mrs Peel was not a full time spy. She would be occupied with something and Steed would some how sneak in and let her know that there was action to be had. Kind of like Holmes telling Watson"Games afoot". I found this on youtube. It gives you a bit of the flavor of the show. There is nothing like it before or since:

So what does Mrs Peel represent to me? Beauty, power, intelligence, and love.......Yes, after all these years I am still in love with her. TV guide referred to her as" and Diana Rigg's Emma Peel is after all these years still a woman ahead of her time". But I still draw strength from her. I guess the character inspired me to live a life that is certainly not the norm. Yes, you are still needed......


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