The Avengers '68, Sets 3-5 (1968)
Review by HTQ4

Series Created by Sydney Newman
Starring Patrick Macnee, Honor Blackman, Rhonda Parker, and Linda Thorson


Released by: A&E.
Rating: NR
Region: 0
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Rent them, though huge fans should buy.

John Wickham Gascone Berresford Steed (Macnee) is one of British Intelligence's best spies. He is the consummate gentleman as well, who always gets the job done without breaking a sweat or messing up his signature derby. He is constantly surrounded by beautiful women and dangerous villains and every week, he has to save the world (or at least England) from some new terror.

This made quite a bit of history during its run. For starters, it was the first British television show that was sold to American networks for rebroadcast. Given the time period that it first aired, it is quite a good show and holds up well in the proper context. However, I really do believe that it will be very difficult for a younger, more modern audience to get into it. I mean, there is more intense action in most video games these days than is on these discs. It's mostly about the suspense of solving the crime than it is about realistic looking action sequences. The fight and action scenes are all very stylized and would not keep today's younger audience interested for very long. That having been said, Macnee and the rest of the cast managed to keep this show fresh for eight years, and there is something to be said for that.

Macnee is perfect in his role as Steed. He simply is charm and grace, with just enough cunning thrown in to make his adventures believable. Granted, by this point in the show Diana Rigg has gone (taking her Emma Peel catsuit with her), but the ladies who step up do a valiant job of trying to take her place.

This show is plagued with the problems that most 60s televisions shows had from a production standpoint and that's the amount of effort placed into dressing out their sets. Most of the walls on their sets have absolutely no texture to them whatsoever and really get lost in the two dimensional format. That's one thing I'm glad to say that has changed in television production over the years. However, here, the direction is quite strong and the acting is fine as well. The guest star list is lengthy and distinguished. Just one example is Christopher Lee, who plays a sadistic interrogator in one of the first episodes of these sets. He's just perfect.

These DVD sets are primarily for the hardcore fan of the show. I say this because the bonus features list is shallow in the extreme. Across all six of the discs were covering here, you get a collection of still shots from on-set. These are nice to have in the DVD format (as are the shows themselves), but it would have been nice to have had words with Macnee, at the very least. Maybe everybody involved was so traumatized by the American feature film version that they didn't want to show their heads. I know not. But some commentary tracks with the actors or crew or at least a retrospective with the parties involved would have been nice. And, not to play Grim Reaper, but those we still have aren't getting any younger, so the more we can get for posterity now, the better off we'll be down the road.

The show does need to be seen, as it is a piece of television history. Not only that, but if you get used to the television conventions of the day, it's an enjoyable show. Pick these up as a rental for a long weekend sometime. That having been said, if you are huge fan of the show, these are worth the purchase because of the primary material.

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