Blast from the past
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Melding mod style and British tradition, the 1960s spy spoof `The Avengers' concluded its black-and-white era with these three episodes. For those who don't want to invest in a complete set, these episodes offer a good overview of the show's many strengths and occasional weakness.
As usual, well-tailored Patrick Macnee is on hand as gentleman spy John Steed. While Macnee is great with all his partners, his chemistry is tops with thin, arch Diana Rigg as capable woman-about-town Emma Peel.
Trend-setting visuals, stylish fashions and snappy patter made this show unique. Even more striking at the time, Emma and other leading ladies were strong and competent, as capable of rescuing Steed as vice versa.
This season saw the writers put Rigg into a series of notorious costumes that irked censors at the time, although they're fairly tame by current standards.
`A Sense of History' sends our heroes to university, researching economic theory and murder. It's not quite a top episode, but Macnee and Rigg swap good lines. For some reason, Emma winds up in a Robin Hood costume that shows off Rigg's long legs. The diabolical mastermind is one of the series' patented eccentrics.
Speaking of eccentric, writer Brian Clemens' misogyny bleeds through his script for `How to Succeed... at Murder.' There are some nicely atmospheric scenes, and good guest turn by Christopher Benjamin and his, um, magnificent beast. But while ridiculing feminism and women in general, this episode puts Rigg and other young women in bodystockings for much of the time.
Vastly better, `Honey for the Prince' is one of the great comic adventures of this or any other TV show. The fond rapport between the two leads is obvious from the opening. A wonderful gallery of supporting eccentrics makes this a romp, while the plot about great power maneuvers for oil remains timely.
Patrick Macnee fans will enjoy seeing their hero a bit mussed after a fight, and nonplussed when Steed's arranged fantasy turns out to be chief eunuch in a harem. That's the cue for one of Emma's briefest costumes, although her tiny bustier isn't a good look on the tiny-busted Diana Rigg.
Rigg offsets her lack of cleavage with a lot more exposure to the rear in a pair of low-cut, diaphanous Turkish trousers. She keeps the spotlight with a very mild dance of six veils as well as more energetic swordplay.
Like our heroine, the A&E discs availabe in the US don't offer a lot of extras, but what's on display here will please most viewers."
Honey for the Prince is one of the BEST episodes
hille2000 | USA | 03/14/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"`The Avengers" was a popular 1960's British fantasy-adventure series that focused on the exploits of a male-female duo in the service of the British government. The series underwent several changes of its female lead but its one constant male lead was John Steed always portrayed by the debonair Patrick Macnee (Originally the John Steed had two male partners but that format eventually changed). Kathy Gale portrayed by Honor Blackman became Steed's first female partner. However, when Honor Blackman departed the series and Diana Rigg entered as Mrs. Emma Peel, the show became an international sensation. Rigg brought sophistication, wit, charm and beauty, which hid her lethal and highly visual judo and karate abilities. Macnee and Rigg complemented each other beautifully with their carefree witty and charming exchange of dialogue. The show distinguished itself with bizarre and futuristic villains and fantastic plots. Popular at the height of the James Bond craze, the show was able to distinguish itself with its simply over-the-top visual style. Laurie Johnson's catchy and sophisticated main title theme matched the visuals of the show and still conjures up an image of the series when listened to today. When Diana Rigg left the series, Linda Thorson entered as John Steed's new partner Tara King. The series soon went off the air in the United States. It was a shame because the episodes with Tara King were quite good. The King episodes seemed to be a little more down to earth and contained some very good writing and intricate plotting. In any event series definitely left its mark amongst the finest. These DVD copies are gorgeous. Volume 4 of "The Avengers" 1966 is very good. It seems fresh even by today's standards."
Startling images in black and white
Alex Wilcock | 10/09/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
""You will be quite - quite - mad!" Four Avengers episodes; two smashers; one an all-time classic. This release should be bought just for the tense, fabulously designed The House That Jack Built, just pipping The Superlative Seven as the best Avengers episode available on DVD so far. Emma has never been so resourceful and so threatened. But what of the others? Well, A Sense of History is all right, though for some reason the university setting just doesn't quite gel. In throwing a man in mid-stride and threatening to break another's arm, however, our heroes come across as genuinely dangerous - and watch out for a very young Jacqueline Pearce, later Blake's 7 goddess. How to Succeed... At Murder, though, is easily the worst of this season, the Avengers' best, a silly piece of sexism (yes, even The Avengers was not immune) with little but the leads and Christopher Benjamin's magnificent ... to pass the time. You may well not have heard of the last episode, Honey For the Prince, but take my advice - do! It leaves a much sweeter taste in its mouth than its predecessor, with splendid whimsy and a whiff of dangerous sexuality - the rather gorgeous assassin, all the naked physicality of the villainous Arkadi, and, of course, the lustrous, luminous star of the East - Emma - dancing the Dance of the Six Veils. Poor thing, says Steed, she can't count. I'm surprised he kept his jaw!"
Steel an Umbrella and Champaign
gobirds2 | New England | 10/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you relish a series like "77 Sunset Strip," "T.H.E. Cat," or "MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE" you no doubt know about the content of what you are getting. You are more likely concerned about the quality of the product. Like John might say to Emma, "You scratch my back and I'll scratch your back. Just watch the hat please." John and Emma are back and are here to stay via DVD technology. Being on DVD, the aesthetics about the actual episodes are not in question here. More appropriately one may ask how they look. They are much better than the Sean Connery film and they look good, very good, excellent in fact."