New color era for Steed and Mrs. Peel
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Following the huge success of the first filmed series of The Avengers, starring Patrick MacNee as debonair British agent John Steed and his cool, sophisticated partner Mrs. Emma Peel, the producers opted to make the next batch of 26 episodes in color, to be broadcast in 1967. In order to accomplish this, foreign backing was necessary, and the American networks were approached. The US had broadcast the black and white season four as a mid-season replacement, and were interested in moving forward with a color season in prime time, however they only provided enough backing for 16 episodes initially. Another challenge was that Diana Rigg was not particularly keen to film another season of the show, and demanded a huge salary increase in order to secure her participation. She got the money, but it was made clear it would be her second and last season with the show.Apart from the use of color film, there were other subtle changes to the show for this fifth season. Both Steed and Emma were given new apartments and Mrs. Peel a much more stylized wardrobe. The device of ending each story with the two leads driving off in a variety of vehicles was abandoned and instead a tag scene was used to introduce each story, where Steed informed his partner that they were needed in a variety of humorous ways. Each story title was also given a two-line subtitle. After completion of the first batch of 16, the American backers did provide finance for a further 16 but asked for both the subtitles and tag scenes to be dropped, and also requested that Mrs. Peel's wardrobe became more recognizably en vogue. After only 8 episodes were completed, producers Brian Clemens and Albert Fennell left the show after a disagreement and the new producers opted not to continue with Mrs. Peel and began their own interpretation of the show. It wasn't long before Clemens and Fennell were back in charge, but the 67 series ended with "Mission highly improbable," although Rigg was brought back in 1968 for the one-off "The forget me knot," to introduce her replacement Tara King. This episode is included in this release as a bonus episode.In terms of storylines, acting and the wonderful interplay between the two leads, there is little difference between this color season and the preceding black and white stories and the show had really reached its zenith by this point. Certainly in terms of popularity and ratings, it was never as successful again. Interestingly, several of these stories are in fact remakes of earlier episodes from the Mrs. Gale era. "The joker," "The correct way to kill," and "The $50,000 breakfast," are all remakes, whereas "The return of the Cybernauts," is a sequel to an earlier Steed/Mrs. Peel adventure.Fans of The Avengers will of course be delighted to have these discs, and I'd highly recommend them to any other fans of the sci-fi/fantasy genre, and indeed fans of the 60's spy format. If you've ever seen the dreadful movie featuring Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman, don't let that put you off. These stories are the real McCoy!"
3rd set for 1967
Deborah MacGillivray | US & UK | 10/11/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Third set for 1967, this series is fully established with dapper John Steed, and sexy but very capable Mrs. Peel. The trademark wit and tongue-through-cheek continues with these episodes:
1) "A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Station" - "Steed goes off the rails - and Emma finds her station in life" has out super sleuths trying to foil an assassination of the Queen.
2) "Something Nasty in the Nursery" - "Steed Acquires a Nanny - and Emma shops for toys" Emma and Steed must stop nasty nannies with deadly toys in a plot to take over Britain
3) "The Joker" - "Steed trumps an ace - and Emma plays a lone hand" has Emma lured to a remote house where an escape lunatic plans to murder her. He does not count on Steed riding to her rescue
4) "Who's Who???" - "Steed goes out of his mind - and Emma is beside herself" a quirky episode that has a master criminal switching the minds of Steed and Mrs. Peel with two "common" agents, showing you cannot judge a book or an agent by their cover!
5) Return of the Cybernauts - "Steed pulls some strings - Emma becomes a puppet" is the sequel to The Cybernauts. In this episode, beloved veteran horror actor Peter Cushing plays the brother to the mad scientist (Michael Gough) and is seeking his revenge on Emma and Steed. He has perfected the Cybernaut process to where a person wearing a watch becomes a human cybernaut.
6) "Death's Door" - "Steed relives a nightmare - and Emma sees Daylight" has dream-influencing drugs used to disrupt an important conference. Important conference members suddenly start having clairvoyant experiences of impending doom stopping them from attending the meetings.
A must for Avengers fans. Directed by Robert Day, John Moxey, James Hill and others; stories from Brian Clemens and Philip Levene.
Pop Goes the Weasel
gobirds2 | New England | 08/02/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you fondly remember that great British import that we watched on TV way back in the 60s then 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 look good, very good, excellent in fact. Great 60s pop culture."
gobirds2 | 06/22/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The VHS (digital enhanced) version is beautiful. Vivid colors and seamless cuts. Looks as good as the day it was broadcast. Of course, the series is 5-stars plus (no doubt about that)."