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A&E Home Video presents
The Avengers '65—Set 1, Volume 4 (1965)

"...the original erotic/platonic partnership that set the standard for some of today's most successful series."
- A&E

Review By: debi lee mandel   
Published: April 21, 2000

Stars: Patrick Macnee, (Dame) Diana Rigg
Director: Various (see below)

Manufacturer: DVCC
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: Approx.208 min total
Release Date: August 31, 1999
UPC: 733961700282
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

For overall series review, click here.

'65 Set 1, Volume 4

4 Episodes:

Dial a Deadly Number
Steed plays Bulls and Bears­and Emma gets no option

US air date: July 24 1966
Director: Don Leaver

Steed: "(I'm) not tactful ­ optimistic...and I admire a woman with a past."
Ruth Boardman: "What's optimistic about that?"
Steed: "The hope that history may repeat itself."

High-finance wheelers and dealers are dropping dead, creating chaos in the stock market. Intrigue centers around "Bleepers", a new high-tech device used in hospitals, pre-cursor to the beeper, that one company wants to market to corporate bigwigs. The devices are offered free to potential investors, who are mysteriously offed on the first call.

Steed gets most of the fun in this one, including a fabulous wine-tasting scene, enacted like a duel, in which Steed bests his opponent with "....from the northern end of the vineyard."

Libations: Steed: Sherry & biscuits (2x), Kenyan coffee and a vodka back, 1 martini, 3 glasses of wine, 3 brandies, champagne; Emma: 1 martini, 2 glasses of wine, 1 brandy, tea, champagne. This episodes rates a total that will tople me: 5 out of 5!

Man-Eater of Surrey Green
Steed kills a climber­and Emma becomes a vegetable

US air date: August 25 1966
Director: Sydney Hayers

"I'm a herbicidal maniac, didn't you know?" - Steed

All of Britain's top horticulturists are disappearing - horticulturists, oh my! ­and our heroes are on the job again. It seems a man-eating plant from outer space has come to feast on us...and yes, conquer the earth in its wake. The plant emits a radio frequency and telepathically commands unwitting plant-lovers to help it germinate, so we are treated to no less than 3 hearing-challenged folks to help our heroes save the day.... As campy and B-movie as it gets, this episode is saved by its high marks for wittiness, innuendo (I will let others decide what the scene means, back in Steed's flat, in which Steed and Peel hand the cactus back and forth until it drops and rolls under the bed), and the rare fight that we are treated to when Mrs. Peel loses her "deaf aid" ("Mrs. Peel, don't you recognize me? OW! I guess not....")

Worst special effects award: the terror of the last scene as the music mounts is composed of the actors standing about with expressions of fear on their faces while someone (off camera) shakes a poor potted palm so hard and fast it is probably traumatized to this day.

Note to continuity editor: When Emma is dragged off downstage, how does she end up behind Steed?

Libations: A sorry lot - a single brandy for Steed; one brief pint for Emma. And just three shots from me.

Two's a Crowd
Steed is singled-minded­and Emma sees double

US air date: May 9 1966
Director: Roy Baker

"Come now, Mrs. Peel. If I had a twin, I'm sure mother would have mentioned it." - Steed

Bumbling Ambassador Brodny receives an unusual message that "Colonel Psev" will arrive in London ­ in time for the Conference, a meeting of the Defence Chiefs. One faction (presumably Russians), wants to infiltrate and steal defence secrets, specifically the bases and routes for the Polaris submarines. Brodny is reluctantly recruited to find his way in, and stumbles across a Steed look-alike at a men's fashion show. He connives to groom this "corruptible" Doppelganger to fool even Mrs. Peel, and have him replace the real Steed in his security position at the conference. In the end, Emma is thoroughly convinced, and almost shoots her partner in the end!

Filled with scale models turned deadly, this one is classic in the "espionage" category, and great fun to watch Macnee play a footloose ladies' man type who calls all the chicks "Ducky".

Note to continuity editor: Where exactly is Steed in the grapple for the tiepin? It doesn't take an expert with today's equipment capabilities to catch this whopper...!

Libations: Steed/Webster: 1 brandy, 1 glass of champagne, 1 scotch & soda; Emma: a sherry and 1 glass of champagne. I enjoyed it quite well. 3-1/2 out of 5.

Bonus episode:

Too Many Christmas Trees

Steed Hangs Up His Stocking -- Emma Asks for More

US air date: August 11 1966
Director: Roy Baker

Mrs. Peel: "That complete mental breakdown you spoke of ­ it's happening to Steed...and someone is deliberately making it happen."
Dr. Teasel: "Oh, come now. Don't you think you're dramatizing a bit?"

A big time fan favorite: a publisher throws a fancy-dress Christmas party with a Dickensian theme, and Emma is invited by an old friend. Of course, she brings Steed along, not at all suspecting that he is to be the evening's entertainment. This story line is a bit more gothic than most, the villains deep into the Occult as they attempt to take over Steed's mind for "the secrets he carries." Cobwebs creaky doors, candelabras, dim hallways and secret rooms. Features a delightful duet by our dynamic duo as they attempt to deceive their foes. And there's nothing like a diabolical gun-toting Santa to ring in the Christmas cheer.

Note to continuity editor: On approach to Storey's house, the Bentley's main windscreen is down, then up, then down again.... Also: when Mrs. Peel tosses the not-so-good doctor over the table, the candelabra goes over with him, yet the lighting never changes...and nothing catches fire!

Libations: Steed: 1 coffee, 2 unnamed "drinks", 3 glasses of punch and 2 drugged nightcaps; Emma: 1 coffee, 1 unnamed "drink", 3 glasses of punch. Bravo! 5 of 5 again.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Framena - na
Original Aspect Ratioyesno

Image Transfer Review: Included in this 1965 set are 13 episodes in black & white, all of them crisp and clean as the original film format.On this disc, too, I noticed no obvious artifacts or pixelation. There are no hard blacks or bright washouts, just a comfortable range of greys that is easy on the eyes and does not distract in any way from the action. My only real complaint is the original title sequence, "The Age of Elegance", is a bit soft, which might be a result of the original production.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: My only real complaint again is the original title sequence, "The Age of Elegance": it has that annoying raise in volume TV productions seem to have by default. But the theme itself has always been stunning, an icon of the era, and the music chosen for individual episodes is, in most cases, equal to the scenes they underscore. From the comedic scenes to the height of suspense, the tracks are almost always right on.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 27 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Production Stills Gallery
  2. Web Site Promo
Extras Review: The menus were obviously considered in the overall package design, a sort of 60's mod use of abstraction and color, a nice touch for that retro look. The extras consist of a gallery of stills from individual episodes included on each disc, but they're only about 1/4 of the screen. I would prefer them larger, perhaps as much as full screen to truly enjoy them. Every disc also has a menu link to A&E's "www.originalavengers.com", a good marketing move but poorly executed - why not give us a real taste of what's in store for us there? And ­ are there ever enough chapters? These would be easier to navigate with a few more choices within a few less clicks.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

This disc might just be the best of the series with not 3 but 4 superbly rich and witty episodes. Classic in humor and thrills, exactly what The Avengers was to be.

5 lively libations out of 5!


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