The Avengers Season 5 DVDs

Monday, 25 October 2010 12:19

In the gradual evolution of The Avengers, Optimum Home Entertainment has now reached Season 5, which was the only run of episodes with Emma Peel that were filmed in colour. Given their impact it’s hard to believe that following a year in monochrome, Diana Rigg would only provide a single year of episodes that gave reign to the whole rainbow of hues available.

Hitting UK screens in 1966, and going Stateside in 1967, this is The Avengers at its most confident and outrageous.  With the American market the reason for the technicolour production values, to complement them the thoroughly British aspect of the series was turned up to 11. As much as the Adam West Batman of the time was in an enhanced reality, so these adventures of Steed and Peel were in a surreal world we all wish we inhabited.

The Avengers Season 5 - Digitally Restored on DVDIt’s now 50 years since the debut of The Avengers (as Police Surgeon), and John Steed (Patrick Macnee) and Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) is arguably the pinnacle of the partnerships that maintained the series over its run.  This series was also the first to be filmed in colour, three years before ITV began full colour broadcasting. This was future-proofing and future thinking at its best.

Season 5 also tackles more futuristic storylines of an increasingly SF bent.  “Mission... Highly Improbable” sees the duo deal with being shrunk to doll size, “The Hidden Tiger” has pet cats electrically altered into ferocious and lethal big cats, “Who’s Who???” extrapolates mind transferring machines, and “The See-Through Man” lives up to its title with invisible foes in. 

There is also a sequel to a previous episode with “Return of the Cybernauts”, as the mechanical villains from Steed and Peel’s past make trouble for them once more. This is also the season where we saw the phasing out of the “Mrs Peel ... We’re Needed” mini-scenes near the beginning of episodes.

The Avengers was the longest running espionage series produced for English-language television and reached audiences in 120 countries, a record that still stands to this day.

Guest stars for this season are positively overflowing – Jon Pertwee, Patrick Cargill, Peter Bowles, Geoffrey Bayldon, Warren Mitchell, Roy Kinnear, Ron Moody, Kenneth Cope, Anthony Valentine, Julian Glover, Jack Watson, Ronnie Barker, Gabrielle Drake, Terence Alexander, Philip Madoc, Christopher Lee, Charlotte Rampling, Brian Blessed, Donald Sutherland, Yootha Joyce, Paul Eddington, Trevor Bannister, Clive Dunn, Sally Nesbitt, Patricia Haines, Peter Cushing, Fulton Mackay, Aimi MacDonald, Clifford Evans, William Lucas, Anneke Wills, Arthur Lowe, Ivor Dean, Simon Oates, Ray McAnally, Joanne Dainton, Colin Blakely, Jane Merrow, Francis Matthews and Kevin Stoney ... to name but a few!

This release features the first full restoration of all 24 Season 5 episodes, which means you can savour the spectrum of the wardrobes, the garish primary-coloured sets, and the dynamic scriptwriting and stories that are the result of writers, directors and actors all working towards stories that were greater than the sum of their parts. 

Add to all this improved quality the following DVD extras:

  • Audio commentary by script writer / producer Brian Clemens on “Murdersville”
  • Audio commentary by guest star Peter Wyngarde on “Epic”
  • Audio commentary by script writer Richard Harris on “The Winged Avenger”
  • Audio commentary by Diana Rigg’s stunt double Cyd Child on “Return of The Cybernauts”
  • Archive German TV interview with Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg (a lesson in how not to film things for overseas use!)
  • Episode trims from “The Fear Merchants”, “Escape In Time”, “From Venus With Love” and “The See-Through Man”
  • “The Avengers – A Retrospective” - ages-old (1993) but still valid documentary, the clips within which remind us of the lower quality we used to put up with from the copies of episodes we used to watch.
  • ATV newsreel footage (Diana Rigg receives a TV Award)
  • “They’re Back” archive trailer
  • Filmed episode introductions by Brian Clemens to “The Bird Who Knew Too Much”, “The Living Dead”, “Epic”, “The Correct Way To Kill”, “The Superlative Seven”, “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Station”, “The Joker” and “Murdersville”
  • “Granada + Points” for each episode (filmed for the now defunct Granada Plus satellite station when it repeated the series around 1998 – the Cult TV Festival Crew shirts for that year advertised this fact)
  • Episode Reconstructions for lost series one episodes “One For The Mortuary”, “Death on The Slipway”, “Tunnel of Fear” and “Dragonsfield”
  • 1960s German Opening Titles
  • Insert reprint of Series 5 promotional brochure
  • Stills gallery for featured episodes
  • PDF material - disc 1: “The Bird Who Knew Too Much”, “Escape In Time”, “Fear Merchants” dialogue sheets;  “Emma Peel’s New Secret Weapon” ABC Special Feature; five TV Times/TV World Avengers covers
  • PDF material – disc 2: “From Venus With Love”, “Living Dead”, “The See-Through Man”, “The Winged Avenger” dialogue sheets, Barbara Shelly ABC Special Feature, Pamela Ann Davy – Mandy in “The Living Dead” ABC Biography
  • PDF material - disc 3: “The Correct Way To Kill”, “Never, Never Say Die” shooting scripts, “The Correct Way to Kill” camera script, “Epic”, “The Hidden Tiger” dialogue sheets, Isa Miranda, Peter Wyngarde, Gabrielle Drake, Ronnie Barker ABC Biographies, “Noah’s Ark – Cinema Fashion”,  “Ronnie Barker’s Unusual Hobby” ABC Special Features
  • PDF material - disc 4: “A Funny Thing On The Way To The Station” shooting script, “Something Nasty in the Nursery”, “Superlative Seven”, “The Joker” dialogue sheets, “The Joker” camera script, “A Funny Thing On The Way To The Station” amendments script, “Overkill” treatment, John Laurie, James Hayter, Isla Blair, Sally Nesbitt ABC biographies
  • PDF material - disc 5: “Death’s Door”, “Return of the Cybernauts”, “Who’s Who” dialogue sheets
  • PDF material - disc 6: “The Fifty Thousand Pound Breakfast”, “You Have Just Been Murdered” dialogue sheets, “Dead Man’s Treasure” shooting script
  • PDF material – disc 7: ‘Avengers Season 5 Press Kit’ including episode guide, ‘Avengerwear 67’ fashion guide, ‘Meet The Avengers’ buyers leaflet, ‘Mans Journal’ Avengers Special, “Mission ... Highly Improbable”, “Murdersville”, “The Positive Negative Man” dialogue sheets.

Save for one, the quartet of audio commentaries are well done, and actually raise issues about what we’re seeing on the screen for much of the time, with the occasional diversion elsewhere when there is little for the person concerned to comment upon.

The exception has to be the Peter Wyngarde chat on “Epic”. This would have made a superb in-camera interview, its content is definitely something his fans and TV buffs in general will love, but it is definitely NOT a commentary.  Much of the time Mr Wyngarde is way off base in his choice of material, using questions on acting technique and episode related queries as a cue to divulge anecdotes of his experiences with some of the monoliths of the British acting fraternity.  There is hardly any mention made of the action on screen, and attempts to head questioning back, in the direction of reminiscences inspired by such, never triggers anything of substance relevant to either the episode or The Avengers in general.

With the Linda Thorson season out later in the year, it means all The Avengers episodes will have been restored to a new level of brilliance and available by Christmas. You can only assume that Blu-ray editions are likely to follow should sales give enough confidence in such a move.  

The Avengers – Series 5 (1966-1967) is out now from Optimum Entertainment as a seven DVD disc set, in 4:3 ratio with a ‘PG’ certificate and a running time of 1,127 minutes approx, and a RRP of £59.99, or get it for less at www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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