Most Fans Haven't Seen These Before
J. Ewaniuk | los angeles, ca United States | 04/10/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Most Avengers fans in this country know of the Avengers as John Steed and Emma Peel. But before that there was Honor Blackman as Cathy Gale, who paved the way for Emma Peel. Cathy is a no nonsense character, very smart, very cool, very efficient. These episodes have been shown on American TV only once - in early 1991 on the A&E netwoork (A&E has sunce lost the broadcast rights), and at that time they were almost 30 years old. These were done like live TV, and are in black and white. The theme song is altogether different from the Laurie Johnson theme, but it does grow on you. Because they are like live TV there are some timing mistakes and there is sometimes a little difficulty hearing the dialogue. Contrary to published reports, there are no subtitles on the DVDs, and the only reason I don't give the collection a full five stars is that there was some sloppiness in the transfer - in two episodes on Set 1, a fly obviously got in the machine, and can be seen crawling around. Here we are trying to pay attention to the plot, and are distracted by what looks to be a fly crawling on the actors' faces in close-up. The fly is absent from these same episodes when I taped them from A&E nine years ago.Why they started with the last episodes on the Blackman series is beyond me. There are many great episodes from both her first and second seasons with the show, as well as quite a few episodes where Steed (a bit of a cad in these shows) "uses" other civilians to help him with his missions. I look forward to their release as well."
Historic and most entertaining
F. Behrens | Keene, NH USA | 04/21/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It is so very good to be able to see the "old" with Honor Blackman as Cathy Gale, not only for its own sake but as an historic document (so to speak) and as a foreshadowing of the greater things to come the very next season when Diana Rigg continued to make television history as Blackman's replacement. First the negatives. These are "live," studio-bound productions in which lines are flubbed, jailers have all sorts of trouble opening the doors to cells, gun shots do not convince, and fights are obviously tame to prevent injury in these days before films, stunt-doubles, and retakes. Now and then the sound gets fainter as characters move away from the mikes, now and then the film jumps just a bit, and in at least two sequences a pesky fly seems to have been caught by whatever process was being used to reproduce the original image onto tape/DVD. Neither positive nor negative but merely interesting is that Steed has not picked up his ultra-refined characteristics by way of wardrobe, umbrella (until the last episodes), and steel-coated bowler hat. His relationship with Cathy varies from amused tolerance on her part to such manifestations of her annoyance as throwing things at him. She takes things a lot more seriously than Emma will. In fact, there is little of that Avengers banter we so enjoy in the later episodes and consequently not so much of that chemistry between the two. There are three episodes on each DVD and twelve in all in this '64 series. Set 1 starts with "The Little White Elephant," and it is about smuggling using animal cages and it moves slowly. "The Little Wonders" has considerable humor with its hoods dressed as clergymen and a shoot-'em-up finale (possibly meant to be taken seriously but funny all the same) that makes the last scene of "Titus Andronicus" look tame. "The Wringer" is very much like "The Ipcress File" film with its brainwashing episodes. "Mandrake" has the first great sexy-woman vs. he-man as Cathy tosses a sexton (played by a popular wrestler) around a graveyard. [That is the same wrestler that tosses Mr. Humphries around in a late episode of "Are You Being Served?") "The Secrets Broker" is purely about blackmail and "The Trojan Horse" about Dick Francis kinds of doings on the racetrack. Please watch these without the foresight of what is to come and try to keep a 1964 frame of mind when this was the hottest stuff on the telly and a female character never had it so good before Cathy Gale blew into town."
Quirky and interesting.
C. H. Dye | Boston, MA, USA | 06/26/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While the Cathy Gale episodes of the Avengers suffer somewhat from having to be reconstructed from ancient videotapes, they still are well worth viewing. Steed is younger, and much more ruthless, and he is well-matched by the tough, independent Cathy."
D. Craven | Chicago, IL USA | 08/31/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having been a great fan of the Peel/King Avengers, I approached the Gale Avengers with some trepedation. This was badly misplaced. While the technical quality of the transfer to this DVD (including the annoying fly....) is not as high (in part because this does not appear to have been filmed, but rather some earlier, less accurate process), the content is superb.Two of the episodes ran up with the very best televsion (not just Avengers) I have ever seen. Small Wonders, which also includes a not-so-small performance by Lois Maxwell (Moneypenny), is an absolute delight with clever plot twists and superb writing. It also plays upon certain "fears" of the period about secret societies. It is followed by "The Wringer" which could have come straight out of the pen of Le Carre. It reveals the underside of Steed's mysterious agency, and makes clear that these Avengers are playing for keeps. Are these worth buying? Even with the fly, in a heartbeat. (and if they fix the fly, I will be the first in line to buy another copy...)"