Mrs. Peel, Bodysuits, Catfights

For Emma, Keeping Fit Means a Slap, a Hairpull -- Then Vengeance 

     Emma Peel was one of televison's first Modern Women, displaying all the traditional female traits while also exuding those usually reserved for men -- leadership, self-reliance, toughness. She would work with men, but never defer to them. 

     The producers of "The Avengers" pushed this angle hard, knowing from public reaction that it was a winner . Thus Emma continued to flaunt  convention, from her fashions to her fighting, while working as an equal with John Steed (who proves to be a thoroughly Modern Man in proper British guise). 

     For this, Mrs. Peel -- as well as Diana Rigg, the great actress who portrayed her -- is revered as a feminist icon today, as women still fight for equality around the world.

    Yet, in "How to Succeed... at Murder," "The Avengers" presents us with a twisted and megalomaniacal version of feminism. A group of beautiful young women are trained to kill the captains of industry, and then take their place.

    It's far-fetched idea, but it's nothing compared to the leader of the gang, who is a puppet. An actual wooden puppet -- a dummy -- known as Henrietta. She talks, her head and eyes move, and she orders these women to murder their bosses.

     She also bosses around her "husband," Henry, a flesh-and-blood man.    

     Emma and Steed are introduced to this strange group as they investigate the murders. Much fun ensues, as Emma dons the tights and battles the beautiful but twisted women of Murder Inc.    

Investigating a series of murders, Emma Peel (played by Diana Rigg), takes a job working for Mary Merryweather (Sarah Lawson)...

...only to find Mary is part of a militant-feminist group run by Henrietta, a puppet. An actual puppet. But who is controlling Henrietta?

That's what Emma and Steed will find out...



Emma Does Some Snooping

As her boss drives away from work, Emma secretly trails her -- who would notice a little white Lotus following them? But Emma is surprised to find out Mary's destination is a gym, offering "Keep Fit Classes for Young Ladies." Looks like Emma's going to have to get in shape!

Welcome to the Club

The training, Emma finds, consists of martial-arts exercises! The obedient Henry leads the classes.
"What could they be talking about?" Emma wonders, as Mary chats with Sara, who Steed is investigating.
Mary introduced Henry to Emma, her new star protege.
"We're wasting time, ladies!" says Henry, who then points to Emma's stomach and adds -- much to her chagrin: "Those muscles and sinews are dragging, drooping as we're talking!" 

Emma and Mary Do the Twist

It's an invigorating exercise, and fun to watch! Emma works Mary for information, as they twist back and forth, bodies locked together, hair flying...
But all good things must come to an end...
...and Emma go boom!

Trial By Combat

`Attack her!'

     As soon as Emma walks into the gym, Mary cries out -- and the rest of the women surround Mrs. Peel. She's been set up! Only one thing to do... Fight!
First, she deals a karate chop to the brunette behind her... 
...then turns to meet the blondes charging hard at her!
Grabbing each by a hand, over they go! Mary watches in disbelief.
The brunette is back for more, though she'll be sorry she ever got up... Emma slaps on a chokehold! 
"Excellent, Mrs. Peel," Mary says. "A fine fighting spirit!"
That's good enough for Henrietta.
Emma is in!

Part 2

Mrs. Peel Is Exposed!

Just as Emma is being given the keys to the kingdom -- er, queendom -- in walks Gladys. "What's SHE doing here?" she says. "I saw her snooping."
Emma gives Henry a chop across his drooping muscles and sinews, and heads for the door!
It's locked! And here comes Gladys...
Emma fight off Gladys, only to find the twin blondes coming in for more.
"And away we go!" Gladys does her Jackie Gleason impersonation as the blondes wrestle with Emma.
As the blondes pin Emma against the wall, up walks Mary. And she's pissed. 

The Angry Mentor

As Mary approaches, Emma decides to greet her with her foot!
It's a miss! So Mary decides to teach Emma a lesson.
The wind-up...
...and the *SLAP*!
Mary sends Emma's head flying!

The Judgment of Mrs. Peel

The slap was satisfying, even enjoyable, for Mary. Now she looks to further humiliate Emma, who betrayed her so badly...
Mary reaches up with her right hand...
...and sinks it into Emma's hair!
As the blondes keep hold of Emma, Mary drags her by the hair over to Henrietta, who has watched it all with interest. 
Mary presents her prisoner to Henrietta.
"This sets us a problem," says Henrietta.
"We've never had to kill a woman before. Never one of our own."

Part 3

The Freaky Secret Comes Out

Look who comes a'calling! It's Steed. But Henrietta is on to him, and the blondes keep a tight check on Emma.
When the lights come on, Steed finds himself surrounded by a merry band of heavily armed young ladies.
The blondes toss Emma over to greet her partner...
...the lucky guy!
Steed gets to meet Henrietta...
...and yada yada, it turns out Henry was controlling the puppet, who was named after his dancer wife, who's dead. It's a weird story .  
More to the point, Emma's about to spring into action!

Mrs. Peel Strikes Back!

With Mary still stunned by yada yada, Emma quickly turns and slaps the machine gun to the floor.
Henry then pulls out his own gun, grabs Henrietta, and heads for the exit. Steed gives him a hard look.
In the meantime, Emma goes for the gun -- and the girls go for her!
It's pile on Peel time!
*SMACK* We can only imagine the punches and kicks the girls are pummeling Emma with, and surely one or two of them have hands yanking away at her beautiful long hair... 

`It's OK, Steed,, I'll manage.'

Yet, with Steed undecided whether to help his partner or go after the freak and his dummy, Emma sends him on his way.

Emma Likes Those Odds

The feminist crew -- we count six of them -- continues to beat on Emma,
when suddenly...
Out flies a girl!
"Ooooo!" She makes a hard landing. One down.
There goes another girl!
Another hard landing, and two down.
Three down. Aren't they cute when they're knocked cold?

One Good Hair-Pull...

As you can well imagine, Emma didn't enjoy Mary's rough treatment. Especially the hair pulling. So, reaching down into her bag of ticks,
out she pulls...
...Mary! By the hair, of course! And the brunette, too!
What could happen next?
*CLONK* Emma takes them out Three Stooges-style.
That's five down. We can only imagine Emma dispatched No. 6 with her famous head-scissors submission move.
"Whew!" Beating up a half-dozen women isn't easy! But there's something more troubling on Emma's mind...
...and it may take a while to get over it. *SHUDDER*

The End