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Re: ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint

Too Many Christmas Trees (25th December 1965) Series 4, Episode 13
https://a4-images.myspacecdn.com/images04/11/2834b26151284578a74183816fc3ce5b/full.jpg

A very creepy, gritty Dickens Christmas!

Steed has been having disturbing nightmares involving Christmas trees and a man dressed as Santa Claus while Steed is trudging through the snow in his pyjamas. At a party given by publisher and Dickens fan Brandon Storey, two telepathic spies attempt to read Steed's mind and make sense of the dream.

A classic and fan-favourite. No wonder, it is bloody brilliant!
It belongs in any Top 10 and certainly is in mine. Very tempted to give another medal, but only Gold and Bronze is left, and I just can't. Because, sorry for repeating myself, series four is filled with marvelous, wonderful gems.

Too Many Christmas Trees is special and unique. Because where usually all seemingly supernatural stuff gets explained away by Steed and Peel, so we realise it's all a ploy by the nasty villain, here the supernatural does really take place.

https://a2-images.myspacecdn.com/images04/2/63772b4692f64978a43599d55e0888dd/full.jpg
It is also the only Christmas episodes in all of the series, so maybe this one time exception can be forgiven. And it should, as an Avengers episode has seldom been that frightening, creepy and gritty!
https://a4-images.myspacecdn.com/images04/12/51f885e596aa4f44970c5d576ee4c4b0/full.jpgSome of the scenes could be right out of an old horror film.
Wonderful atmospheric black and white cinematography plus eerie incidental music guarantee genuinely unsettling and suitably dark and menacing moments.
https://a3-images.myspacecdn.com/images04/8/9e063d14618148649145a6111ac8c2f8/full.jpg

Furthermore this is Dickens Heaven! Almost impossible to spot all the Dickensiana in the episode.
https://a4-images.myspacecdn.com/images04/1/c0ed4d9ab3c149078ecef00f82c75cf1/full.jpg
https://a2-images.myspacecdn.com/images04/12/1a3d976064314d5c8c69c061e2c688a1/full.jpg

And then there is this:
Steed is browsing through his Christmas mail. Emma hands him a card from Cathy Gale. "Best wishes for the future - Cathy" she reads to Steed.
Steed looks at the card. "Mrs. Gale! Ah, how nice of her to remember me. What can she be doing in Fort Knox?"

https://a1-images.myspacecdn.com/images04/8/108a1654460b49ae8ad2c59a69b3d94e/full.jpg

After this episode you won't play cards again.
https://a4-images.myspacecdn.com/images04/8/91ab8994ada44c819c6d0529ecb6a126/full.jpg

Yet another fantastic episode, unsurprisingly really. It's my No 4 I say.

Dalton Rulez™

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Re: ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint

BondJasonBond006,
A good thread.
I have been watching the repeats of The Avengers on True Entertainment. They stand up remarkably well and I have been toying with a review series to match a stretch I did on CBN about The Persuaders.
The series you focus on here are all ITC productions.
Do you have any interest in the other ITC products: The Baron, The Persuaders, The Champions, Jason King, Department S, The Protectors, Danger Man, The Prisoner, all the Gerry Anderson marionette stuff or some of those varied sixties shows like Vendetta, Man in a Suitcase, UNCLE, etc.?

28

Re: ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint

being from the colonies, I don't really understand ITV and Lew Grade and all that, but I thought the Avengers was produced by somebody else called ABC (not the mid70s American purveyors of JiggleTV, but a British ABC). I believe Brian Clemens is the common creative mind behind both Danger Man and The Avengers, and many of those other shows.
Anyway, for us foreigners, was there just one private competitor to the BBC, being ITV, or were there others?
was ABC its own network, or a production company that supplied ITV?
is ITC part of ITV or something different?

me, I just watched Death's Door
another serious one except its so damn weird. Lots of dream sequences, reminiscent of Dali and Magritte. The logical explanation at the end is so over-elaborate it could be a Prisoner plot.

Spoilerif the bad guys can kidnap the diplomat from his bedroom, and transport him (several times presumably) to a warehouse where they drug him and program his "dreams", then return him to his bed in time for the conference, why not just kill him and be done with it?

29

Re: ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint

I refer you to wiki. Its complicated.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITC_Entertainment

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Re: ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint

caractacus potts wrote:

being from the colonies, I don't really understand ITV and Lew Grade and all that, but I thought the Avengers was produced by somebody else called ABC (not the mid70s American purveyors of JiggleTV, but a British ABC). I believe Brian Clemens is the common creative mind behind both Danger Man and The Avengers, and many of those other shows.
Anyway, for us foreigners, was there just one private competitor to the BBC, being ITV, or were there others?
was ABC its own network, or a production company that supplied ITV?
is ITC part of ITV or something different?

me, I just watched Death's Door
another serious one except its so damn weird. Lots of dream sequences, reminiscent of Dali and Magritte. The logical explanation at the end is so over-elaborate it could be a Prisoner plot.

Spoilerif the bad guys can kidnap the diplomat from his bedroom, and transport him (several times presumably) to a warehouse where they drug him and program his "dreams", then return him to his bed in time for the conference, why not just kill him and be done with it?

Clemens wasn't involved with Danger Man beyond writing a few episodes. The Avengers and the New Avengers were his main contributions to British filmed television, apart from a few one-off writing gigs, some under his pen-name Tony O'Grady.

The show's status as the main British filmed adventure series of the 1960s not to be produced by Lew Grade's ITC company lay in its origins before the show became a filmed production.

The Avengers began as a videotaped series for its first three seasons, made by ABC Television, one of the British regional companies that were part of the ITV network. The series then moved to film, still produced by ABC, but with a different production staff. Brian Clemens was hired as he had written episodes of The Avengers, and was familiar with writing for film production as he had been one of the main writers for the prolific British b-movie producers the Danziger Brothers.

The economics of the filmed series meant that an American sale was vital, and the American ABC network bought the series - the very last black and white series to be bought by an American network.

The Avengers was, in fact, virtually the only filmed series ABC made - there is a really entertaining science fiction pilot show the company made called The Solarnauts, made in colour around 1967. It never got commissioned to a full series but can be found on YouTube.

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Re: ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint

IanFryer, thanks for the relatively clear explanation
and chrisno1 you're right, it looks complicated
I was looking at wiki's page on the history of ITV: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_ITV
and what I'm getting is: ITV is not a network in the sense of monolithic tv networks in North America (or the BBC), but more like a formal grouping of regional franchises which different companies can bid to be part of? (and it looks like theres weekday and weekend franchise holders for the same region?!!?)
then there are content providers , who in some cases are also franchise holders?
so an ITV station in Cornwall might be completely different than another ITV station in Yorkshire, but probably shares the same prime time programming?

it doesn't matter of course, and is all off topic, but I'd always assumed the Avengers was made by the same people who made Danger Man and The Saint, but now I'm confused
I suppose the talent behind the scenes (producers, writers, etc) are more important than what corporate entity owned the show

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Re: ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint

caractacus potts wrote:

IanFryer, thanks for the relatively clear explanation
and chrisno1 you're right, it looks complicated
I was looking at wiki's page on the history of ITV: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_ITV
and what I'm getting is: ITV is not a network in the sense of monolithic tv networks in North America (or the BBC), but more like a formal grouping of regional franchises which different companies can bid to be part of? (and it looks like theres weekday and weekend franchise holders for the same region?!!?)
then there are content providers , who in some cases are also franchise holders?
so an ITV station in Cornwall might be completely different than another ITV station in Yorkshire, but probably shares the same prime time programming?

it doesn't matter of course, and is all off topic, but I'd always assumed the Avengers was made by the same people who made Danger Man and The Saint, but now I'm confused
I suppose the talent behind the scenes (producers, writers, etc) are more important than what corporate entity owned the show

That regional structure of ITV is of the past. For the past 15 years or so it's been a single entity in England, with different regional companies for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

When talking to any of the actors and writers etc associated with the 60s British action shows, it was completely unimportant that some were made by different companies. The Saint was made at the same studio complex as The Avengers and Roger Moore would wander across to The Avengers set to play practical jokes.

33

Re: ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint

Watched a Bond-like episode of The Persuaders last night.

Moore in it of course, and he was being dogged by his double. Not sure if this episode came before or after The Man Who Haunted Himself. Anyway, Bernard Lee is in it, in a key but small role, and there are themes similar to W Whyte in DAF. One of the better episodes, and Moore was a good actor in this. I think with Bond he just sent it up all the time, maybe cos he didn't like playing a real assassin.

"This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

Roger Moore 1927-2017

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Re: ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint

Napoleon Plural wrote:

Watched a Bond-like episode of The Persuaders last night.

Moore in it of course, and he was being dogged by his double. Not sure if this episode came before or after The Man Who Haunted Himself. Anyway, Bernard Lee is in it, in a key but small role, and there are themes similar to W Whyte in DAF. One of the better episodes, and Moore was a good actor in this. I think with Bond he just sent it up all the time, maybe cos he didn't like playing a real assassin.

Can recommend The Persuaders! Boxset on Blu-ray NP. Very nice presentation inlay and fantastic film transfer/restoration. This series should viewed in the glorious colours of the exotic locations, sets, wardrobe, cars! originally intended.

"Any of the opposition around..?"

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Re: ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint

Thanks Red Kind, you're probably right as the reshowings on True Entertainment are not exactly good quality prints.

Some of the music does anticipate the score for LALD, sort of downbeat funky. I can't say all the episodes are as good as I remember them, though that DAF diamond expert pops up in a lot of them. It's always a pleasure to see the late Curtis and Moore  ajb007/crap  banter with each other.

When Liam G and Chris Martin popped up at the Manchester Arena to do their tribute to the bomb victims, I did think it would be fun to do a Persuaders spin off, you know, like the opening credits detailing their divergent parallel lives, Gallagher from Moss Side and Martin's posh upbringing.

"This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

Roger Moore 1927-2017

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Re: ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint

say, whatever happened to BondJasonBond006??
I want to see more of his Avengers reviews.

37

Re: ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint

caractacus potts wrote:

say, whatever happened to BondJasonBond006??
I want to see more of his Avengers reviews.

"Moneypenny! Jason."
"Bourne?"
"No, Bond, Jason Bond. 006."
"Ah Jason. I miss him."

As do I.
He got up a rank in the Army and he is very much pre occupied with training people about...stuff.
Check out comings and goings.

a reasonable rate of return

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Re: ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint

I watched what turned out to be the very first episode of The Persuaders last night. It was an eye opener, as I'd always thought that the lead characters went back a long way - yet the pilot makes it clear that they are both idle playboys who take an initial dislike to each other. They are thrown together by a retired judge (the diamond expert from DAF) who threatens to throw them in a South of France jail on a trumped up charge for three months unless they comply.

The entertaining opening car chase/rivalry between Danny and Brett along the approach to the South of France was clearly filched for that early scene in GoldenEye with Bond and Xenia, though it seems odd that the two seem to exhibit some kind of bromance at the wheel.

I suppose the Brett character is a bit like the one Bond portrays in AVTAK, whose 'dotty aunt' left him a fortune. Moore does look louche, long-haired and overweight in this role, it's hard to see him going onto LALD where he looks a lot younger. You see why the producers told him to lose weight and get a hair cut.

"This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

Roger Moore 1927-2017

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Re: ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint

I even thought that the Onatopp chase took place at the very same drive but Jizzy proved me wrong way back when I first joined the forum. About the bromance behind the wheel, that is essentially what happened in GE. Lovers behind it, enemies socially.

a reasonable rate of return

40

Re: ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint

I think every in spy movie from the 50s and 60 someone was carrying a German Luger...

Diana Rigg is lovely...

"I don't know if the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or imbeciles who mean it."-Mark Twain
'Just because nobody complains doesn't mean all parachutes are perfect.'- Benny Hill (1924-1992)

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Re: ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint

Well I looked at this thread and I'm puzzled at the colourful reviews I did ajb007/smile

I love this show so much and I got everything from Diana Rigg to Linda Thorson on Blu-ray.

So this is a nice project for me. I can watch an episode and then write a review. Give me a little time but it's definitely going to happen.

Dalton Rulez™

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Re: ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint

Jason don't worry too much about how you did all the coding and screenshots, figuring out that stuff makes my head hurt too
I just wanted to remind you that
1) there's a show called The Avengers that used to bring you a lot of joy
and
2) this thread is one of my favourites of your many contributions to the forum

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Re: ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint

Watching The new Avengers, I was thinking for a new  series. They could
Have a new character as either the son or daughter of Purdey and Mike Gambit  ajb007/wink
Who could mention that Steed was his/her Godfather.

“I didn’t lose a friend, I just realised I never had one.”

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Re: ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint

The only seem to show the colour episodes of The Saint.
Yet some of the best episodes are from the earlier  B/W
series collections.

“I didn’t lose a friend, I just realised I never had one.”

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Re: ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint

I agree with TP, there are many B/W episodes that are far superior to the latter colour episodes but I imagine the station managers think that B/W is a turn off for modern viewers which is strange as the likely audience for The Saint is going to be us oldies.

Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.

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Re: ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint

I've been reading James Chapman's book Saints and Avengers: British Adventure Series of the 1960s, which gives lots of background information about these series, as well as academic analysis. It covers all the shows Thunderpussy mentioned in post 3, and most of the shows Chris01 mentioned in post 27.

The second chapter is all about the Avengers. I already learned a fair bit from you folks upthread, but I've learned a bunch more from this book, I thought I ought to share some of these fun factoids. Especially since it seems most of us have only ever seen the Rigg episodes.
(You experts correct me where I've got it wrong please, I don't want to be spreading any misinformation.)



The series was invented by Sydney Newman, the same Canadian born producer who also created Doctor Who. But Brian Clemens claims Newman only came up with the name, which sounded cool, and nothing else. A few pages further along Newman is credited with the idea to change Steed's persona into the dapper witty aristocratic type, which started in the second season.

The series was originally the followup to a shortlived cops & doctors show called Police Surgeon, also staring Ian Hendry. At the last minute it was decided to give Hendry's character a new name and make the new show entirely unrelated.
The first season was about Dr David Keel, whose wife is murdered and he becomes involved with a mysterious secret agent John Steed, with most episodes involving a medical angle. Steed at this point is unrecognisable, a tough streetsmart trenchcoat wearing character in the Bogart tradition.
Several of these episodes were broadcast live (like our Climax Mystery Theatre!) and do not survive, and the rest recorded on videotape. Only three and half episodes from the first season survive, I'm not sure that any are on dvd.


There was a actors strike in 1962, and Hendry chose to quit. So the show had to be reconceptualised. The first three episodes of season 2 featured a new doctor character, using up the remaining Hendry-era scripts. Then there was a small number of episodes with nightclub singer Venus Smith (played by Julie Stevens). I have actually seen the first of these online, and although Steed now dresses as we expect him to, he does not behave like the character we all know. Instead, he is very manipulative, charming Venus into saving her country, while concealing much information and risking her life. As Napoleon Plural noted on the previous page, very much like the film Notorious. Stevens does sing two complete songs, including a Duke Ellington cover.

Then the bulk of the second season episodes are with Honour Blackman. She plays a much stronger, smarter more selfreliant character, dressed in leather to give her freedom of movement for her kick-ass fight scenes. The show becomes a phenomenon, and MacNee and Blackman actually record a would be pop single called Kinky Boots to cash in on their growing popularity. The episodes still focus mostly on realistic spy thriller plots, but slowly give way to more science fiction and selfparody. These episodes are mostly written by Clemens. There is also a directive from above for a stylized visual identity to set the show apart from its competitors, with lots of weird camera angles and unique sets (no boring offices or flats).


When Blackman left there was an exceptionally long break (18 months) where the whole production was rethought. This is when they switched from videotape to film. They also brought in a lot of film industry pros to write and direct, and really only Clemens from the original team was kept, and he was promoted. So Clemens' aesthetic for science fiction and selfparody became the official  look for the show in the Rigg years.

We've talked plenty about the Rigg years above, so I shall not repeat. The final season with Tara King was not so popular in America, so the show was finally cancelled. The King shows did have the innovation of introducing Steed's boss Mother, and the convention of meeting with the boss in unusual spaces (e.g. the upper level of a double decker bus).


The New Avengers is discussed as being more realistic in approach, with more explicit mention of Cold War politics than was ever in the original, and an updated, very mid70s sense of fashion. Ian Hendry returns in one episode as a villain. The new show was not successful, even in the UK, and the final four episodes were made ultra-low budget in Canada!

The late 1990s film's failure is blamed on Uma Thurman, as the filmmakers felt they needed a big American star amongst all the authentic British talent, and she couldn't do the accent or deliver the British wit. (I was sad to read this opinion, as I like Uma and I think the film had much bigger problems than just her miscasting).


In terms of analysis, Chapman compares the show to Hitchcock's 1930s spy films (as per the show's own publicity), and develops the theme of the "proximity of chaos". We repeatedly see quaint postcard scenes of typical English country inns concealing evil villains headquarters hidden in the tunnels below, and infinite variations thereof. He compares the typical rural settings to Ealing comedies (I don't know what those are?). When in the city there is similar chaos barely hidden beneath the department stores and dance classes. We don't really see modern Swinging London, just the nostalgic archetypic images, with mad scientists' lairs lurking inches behind the facade.

The villainy almost never reflects any realistic sort of Cold War politics. instead the villains are often reactionaries (who fear modern life and wish to take us back to the good old days) or technocrats (mad scientists who wish to limit humanity's choices with all powerful technologies).

Another bit of analyis: he claims the character Cathy Gale was revolutionary, unprecedented, a fictional feminist icon blazing the way for characterizations of female action heros we now take for granted. The action thriller genre is as old as film, but women's roles were traditionally as secretaries, girlfriends, or if the actress was lucky, the femme fatale. Never before could an actress be the action star who singlehandedly saved the day and also saved the hero.
I think he may be right, though there were certainly superheroines in American comic books (but moreso in the 1940s than the 50s or 60s) and the Modesty Blaise newpaper strip had started a couple years earlier. I cannot think of a comparable female character in film or teevee before Cathy Gale.


I saw the same author wrote a book on James Bond films, so I've picked up that one too.

Last edited by caractacus potts (18th Aug 2019 16:23)

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Re: ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint

Just picked up The Avengers series 6 from Amazon Prime, It looks fantastic in HD   ajb007/martini
I'm hoping to work back and collect as much of this brilliant show as I can.

“I didn’t lose a friend, I just realised I never had one.”

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Re: ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint

Watching episode 12 of series 6 .......
The super secret cypher snatch, and
Angela Scoular ( Ruby from OHMSS)  is in it. ajb007/martini

“I didn’t lose a friend, I just realised I never had one.”

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Re: ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint

Thunderpussy you gonna tell us more about Season Six?
I've only ever seen the one that introduces Tara and Mother ... because Diana Rigg has a few scenes, it's included in the 16 disc Emma Peel MegaSet. Never seen the rest.


___________________________


There's one and a quarter first season episodes up on YouTube.
As folks probably wont find these episodes otherwise, I'd best post the links.

Warning, these are very different from the slick stylish Diana Rigg era episodes, not even comparable to early Danger Man and the Saint. As the early Avengers were videotaped, rather than filmed, editing and second takes were avoided, and the pacing is very slow and clumsy. At one point MacNee turns away from the camera as he delivers important exposition and his dialog becomes inaudible!


Hot Snow
7 January 1961
The first fourteen minutes of the first ever episode, no more exists. Does not get far enough for Steed to appear, but we see the traumatic event that will bring Dr David Keel and the mysterious John Steed together.


The Frighteners
27 May 1961
The fifteenth episode, and earliest surviving episode with Steed. Despite what Chapman's book says, Steed is dressed in bowler hat with a flower in his lapel, not a trenchcoat. But he is tough, secretive, and very manipulative. There is also no clue who he works for, he just emerges from the shadows and gives Keel cryptic orders, but can summon convenient police backup with ease.
The tone is very noirish and amoral. Steed and Keel do a few very bad things to get the job done, and the distinction between "good" guys and "bad" guys gets confused by the end.

The bad guy they take prisoner and torture is Philip Locke: Vargas from Thunderball!
remember Vargas who does not drink, does not smoke, does not make love, what do you do Vargas? yeh that Vargas!

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Re: ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint

Not so much 60s British tv but I'm enjoying a couple of recent buys.

The Rockford Files, I remember this as a kid and bought it for nostalgia reasons, but it is a classic.
Jim Rockford is an anti-hero, if warned to " back off " a case, he'll try and back off  ajb007/biggrin  One fact I
did learn about the series was that James Garner did nearly all his own driving, as like Steve McQueen
he was one of the best drivers in Hollywood.

Banacek,
Another favourite from when I was a kid, picked up both series 1 and 2. Always loved Banacek, thought he
was one cool dude. Some of the thefts are really intriguing and entertaining. I did discover from listening
to a documentary on BBC Radio 4 about the competitors of Sherlock Holmes, there was a railway detective
who solved mysteries in the late 1800s, ( can't remember his name ) but he like Banacek had a carriage
stolen from a moving train ! , and used the same solution, only he did it around 80 years before  ajb007/biggrin  I'm
guessing one of the script writers was a fan of these old stories.

“I didn’t lose a friend, I just realised I never had one.”