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A&E Home Video presents
The Avengers '66—Set 2, Volume 3 (1966)

"Just lately I thought the series had been losing its flair for the exotic and the absurd. An unwanted touch of scientific realism had even entered with white coated villains plotting away in laboratories. However Brian Clemens' "A Touch Of Brimstone" had just the right mixture of extravagance and menace."
- The Stage and Television Today, 24 February 1966

Review By: debi lee mandel   
Published: April 24, 2000

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

Manufacturer: DVCC
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: Approx.170 min total
Release Date: August 31, 1999
UPC: 733961700343
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

For overall series review, click here.

'66 Set 2, Volume 3

3 Episodes:

The Danger Makers
Steed Joins a Secret Society—Emma Walks the Plank

US air date: July 4 1966
Director: Charles Crichton

"Today, there just isn't enough war to go 'round" - Robertson

Top military men are reported to be behaving like adolescent daredevils, quite the opposite one might expect from men who should be experiencing battle-fatigue. Conditioned to danger, it is an easy step to urge them over the edge. Mrs. Peel catches the eye of one of the members that recruits her into this secret organization. She passes their initiation ritual, a deadly funambulatory feat, but Steed, who says he's already in, is discovered and locked up in the cellar. The requisite fight scene is excellent, but someone should tell Steed it's best to push one's enemy away from the sword rack!

Note to continuity editor: When Stanhope dies, the photo is in his right hand; when Steed rolls him over, it's in his left....

Libations: Steed mixes quite the martini, followed by an unnamed drink and a brandy; Emma: 1 martini and an unnamed drink. I rate this 3 libations out of 5

A Touch of Brimstone
Steed Joins the Hellfire Club—Emma Becomes the Queen of Sin

US air date: None—originally banned in the US (!)
Director: James Hill

Mrs. Peel: "I have come to appeal to you."
Cartney: "You certainly do that."

The very reputation of British civility is at stake when a series of extraordinarily public practical jokes are anonymously played on assorted visiting world figures. Things get serious when a joke at a ribbon cutting ends in murder—and Steed seems to know exactly where to begin sniffing out the culprits. He's off to chat up an old friend while Emma goes fund-raising, and they wind up in the same place: a Tom Jones-style bacchanalia thrown by rakehells, in a set complete with underground passages and trap doors, well done.

This episode is absolutely fabulous and will last longer in memory than the controversial aspects of its hedonistic misogyny. This was the 60's—please—and believe me, we've seen worse. A hellishly divine cast (including the best villain of the series), a rapier-sharp script, superb direction AND our Mrs. Peel in full dominatrix regalia, makes this unforgettable avenging at the top of its form.

A treat for fans is Monty Python's Carol Cleveland, who appears as the "insatiable" Sara Brandy. The fight scenes are exciting, and Steed's initiation into the "Hellfire Club" is a definite "must see".

Note to continuity editor: The wide shot in the theater shows us light colored, upholstered seat; the close up seats are dark and studded. And, there's a bit of fudging with the chocolates in the opening....

Libations: Steed: a couple of brandies and a gallon or so of grog; Emma: 1 unnamed drink. I drained the shaker on this one: 5 of 5—cheeers!

What the Butler Saw
Steed Becomes a Gentleman's Gentleman—Emma Faces a Fate Worse than Death

US air date: July 28 1966
Director: Bill Bain

"Better brighter more beautiful butling" - sign at the school

Steed meets with a double agent who tells him that top secrets are leaking to the "other side" and that top-level muckety-mucks are responsible. Donning a delightful array of disguises, Steed employs noms de guerre that add up to "Red, White and Blue", and is accompanied by the usual theme music artfully and strategically arranged to resemble the likes of Popeye the Sailor, Hogan's Heroes and the Batman Theme as he visits the 3 main suspects.

This plot is a bit tough to follow. The clues ultimately lead away from the officials (a gambler, a lush and a playboy, the latter of whom Mrs. Peel manages with irresistible cool) and point to their man servants, who play a mysterious game of "musical butlers" that loses me halfway through.... And the solution chosen to outsmart hidden microphones—a plastic zipper bag—is over the top, and reminiscent of the "Cone of Silence" from Get Smart (yet another feather tossed to [then] contemporary American TV).

Fun for Steed fans to watch him be subservient, for a change.

Note to continuity editor: In opening, the butler purposefully shakes down the doily so that it covers the tray, but when he offers it back to the master the lace is doubled back again.

Libations: Steed: 1 coffee, 2 drinks and champagne; Emma: 2 drinks, champagne, tea, and an aperitif. Good stuff, 4 out of 5.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Included on this third 1966 disc are 3 episodes in black & white, all of them crisp and clean as the original film format. 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: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
PCMEnglish, monono

Audio Transfer Review: The same as the previous discs in this series: 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 is in the "must have" column for collectors—brilliant camp, what we love them for! 4 out of 5 libations for this one.


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