The Strange Case of the Missing Episodes

Unfinished. Gaudí, to his credit, never gave up on his dream. But that’s not usually how it goes. Usually it isn’t a speeding bus that keeps the brown, pointy, weird church from getting built. Most of the time it’s just too difficult, too expensive, too scary. It’s only once you’ve stopped that you realise how hard it is to start again, so you force yourself not to want it. But it’s always there. And until you finish it, it will always be…

Ted Mosby, How I Met Your Mother 

Today’s prompt propelled the word incomplete at me today and it is a word which can be thrown at me in a couple of  ways, but I am going to look at it from the perspective of my various DVD collections of TV shows. While many of them will proclaim themselves to be complete collections, which shows like Jason King & The Champions are, some of them use the term loosely. For example Network released a set called the complete Danger Man (Secret Agent for my USA readers) which was semi-accurate, in that it was the complete serise 2-4 which were the hour long episodes and didn’t include the first series which consisted of 30 minute episodes. Mind you, it did include the movie edit of Koroshi which was made up of the only two colour episodes edited together with a couple of additional/alternative scenes to mend the two together. But there are sections of my DVD collection which will probably always be complete incomplete collections, namely The Avengers, Doctor Who and Hancock’s Half Hour. All of these series suffer from having ‘missing’ shows, ie they have episodes no copies are known to be existence. Hancock’s Half Hour will probably always be lost as I don’t think the early live TV shows were even recorded while being broadcast due to the unreliable nature of the process of the time. The Avengers has most of its first series missing with only two complete episodes and part of another known to survive and Doctor Who has 97 episodes from the 1960s missing. What makes it more irritating on the Doctor Who front is it is a serialised drama, so there are stories which have episodes missing as well as stories lost in their entirety. While there have been moves to animated and make reconstructions of the stories where 50% or more of the story survives, you won’t get a truely complete version. The lost first season of the Avengers is getting a sort of new lease of life as Big Finish productions have recreated the episodes from the scripts and adapted them for audio… they are quite good too. Obviously it is impossible to have Ian Hendry and Patrick Macnee recreate their roles but the new Keel and Steed (Anthony Howell and Julian Wadham) are good, wisely neither actor has tried to do an impersonation of Ian and Pat but find their own reading of the roles. You can find out more about the  range here and here. It might not be the real thing, but it’s is close enough.

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