Along with Monty Python's Flying Circus, The Avengers practically defined British cult television, and it was never better than during the three years that Diana Rigg's Emma Peel character tossed out her witty barbs and ka... more »rate kicks. The Complete Emma Peel Megaset encompasses all 51 episodes from 1965-66 (in black and white) and 1967 (in color). Paired with Patrick Macnee as the dapper, umbrella-wielding John Steed, Rigg's Mrs. Peel turned heads with her sexy outfits, then broke skulls of the various would-be world-dominating bad guys who crossed her path. Like the mixed crime-fighting teams who came after them in shows like Moonlighting and The X-Files, Steed and Mrs. Peel had a constant platonic playfulness. In one episode when Mrs. Peel is working undercover at a department store, Steed drops in for a visit, remarking, "They told me 'Mrs. Peel is in Ladies Underwear.' I rattled up the stairs three at a time." However, unlike their spiritual successors, Steed and Mrs. Peel never jumped the shark; instead she bid a fond farewell as she passed the torch to Steed's next partner, Tara King (Linda Thorson), just as she had been passed the torch from Honor Blackman. (Blackman left her Kathy Gale character to go on to fame as Pussy Galore in Goldfinger--in one episode, Steed receives a postcard from Gale sent from Fort Knox.) But although Macnee had some enjoyable moments with other partners throughout the series' run, it's the Emma Peel years that fans remember most fondly, not only for the great chemistry between the lead actors, but the superb writing and distinctly British, and distinctly '60s, quirky charm. The megaset was rereleased in 2006 in space-saving Thinpaks and with a new 216-minute bonus disc. --David Horiuchi« less
" The immensely popular ABC series called "The Avengers" has long since achieved legendary status since it appeared back in January 1961. Since then there have been 161 episodes, which break into four major sections. We have the early episodes (1-26) with Patrick Macnee as John Steed and Ian Hendry as Dr. Keel. Then the "Cathy Gail" series (27-78) with Honor Blackman as Cathy Gale, the man-tossing, leather-covered intellectual who broke new ground for female characters on television. Even more popular was the black and white series (79-104) with Diana Rigg and Emma Peel (read "M[en] appeal "), which led not unexpectedly to the color series with Rigg (105-129). Then the final section with Linda Thorson as Tara King (129-- in which she co-starred with Rigg-161).
As of this writing, the early episodes in the Gale series and all of the King series are not yet available. However, A&E has just released all of the Rigg entries, both the black and whites and the color, in a wonderful boxed set called "The Avengers: the Complete Emma Peel Mega-Set." And Mega, I suppose, is as good as any adjective to describe the enjoyment value of the contents therein. We have here all the Rigg episodes, including the transition entry in which Tara takes over for Emma, on 16 DVDs, each holding 3 episodes with an occasional 4th as a "bonus."
Those who have never seen them before will want, of course, to watch them in order. Others will want to jump to their favorite episodes, which is pretty easy on DVD. You will notice that the black and whites were less studio-bound and the sets in general more realistic. With the first color episode, the series took a strong science fiction bent; and the sets, as the producers admitted, were more a view of England as the Americans would like to think it is.
You will also have a lot of fun spotting stars-to-be. There is Donald Sutherland, Brian Blessed and Charlotte Rampling in "The Superlative Seven," Peter Bowles in "Dial a Deadly Number" and "Escape in Time," Geoffrey Palmer in "A Surfeit of H2O," and Christopher Lee in "Never, Never Say Die." It was a policy that no actor could appear more than once a season, so Bowles and Lee, for example, would have to wait for the King series to play other characters. In fact, the only characters as such to reappear in the color Rigg series from the black and whites is the bumbling Brodny (Warren Mitchell) who can be found in "Two's a Crowd" and "The See-Through Man" and the evil assistant (Frederick Jaeger) to the Cybernaut-master. And for more fun, see how many actors from "Are You Being Served?" you can spot? There are three in all.
The most frequent repeat actor seems to be comedian Roy Kinnear, who also has the honor of being in the very last King episode in the role of Bagpipes Happychap. And then we have rotund Patrick Newell who was murdered in the very first Rigg entry, drugged in a color one, and wound up as Mother in the King series.
But all in all, it is the interplay between Macnee and Rigg that really made this program work. Unlike Cathy Gale, who seemed actively to dislike Steed when she was not merely tolerating him, Mrs. Peel had a genuine fondness for him and was not averse to stirring his tea (anticlockwise, as he preferred it). And as for the question of Peel and Steed being lovers, recall that they are fictional characters and have no life off the screen.
The dialogue was light hearted, and you seldom if ever saw blood after a mere trickle in their third episode. You also never saw a policeman, an element that for some reason the producers thought would be a jarring note. (You figure out why; I cannot.) The best episodes? There is no question that "The House That Jack Built" leads the pack. This is the one in which Emma finds herself in a house designed to drive her mad and Steed appears only at the start and end. The worst? Possibly "Silent Dust." The silliest? That has to be "Epic." The most serious? "Murdersville." So what if the package costs a small fortune? You could purchase them separately, of course; but think of what you would be missing."
The essential seasons of the series (sorry Cathy Gale and Ta
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 03/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Previously released by A&E on DVD, "The Avengers Emma Peel Megaset" brings the episodes featuring Diana Rigg and Patrick MacNee as John Steed altogether in one complete smaller set with extras. You get all the episodes that Diana Rigg appeared in packed into 16 discs with 3 or 4 episodes per DVD. The DVDs are packaged in slimline cases making it a bit easier for storage purposes particularly if you have a lot of DVDs.
The big attraction for fans is the disc of "Lost Episodes" featuring 2 and 1/2 of the earliest episodes when the show first aired. Featuring Dr. Keel (Ian Hendry "Journey to the Far Side of the Sun") and John Steed fighting the bad guys. Hendry becomes involved with Steed and becomes an "Avenger" when his fiance is murdered. Unfortunately the rest of the first season episodes have vanished and these 2 1/2 episodes are all that remain of the first season. The first season tone is more serious than later ones. It would take another season before the show would finally hit its stride with the introduction of Dr Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman-Pussy Galore from "Goldfinger"). As mentioned elsewhere this 17th disc is available separately so don't feel compelled to purchase the whole set again if you bought it in 2001.
Image quality is extremely good throughout. There is quite a bit of analog speckles and spots on some episodes but the blacks are rock solid and the colors despite a bit of fading looks extremely good as well on the later episodes. The image quality is a bit softer in the color episodes when compared to the earlier black and white episodes. Sound is solid throughout the set.
We also get "Avenging The Avengers" a short doucmentary on the series featuring Macnee, Honor Blackman and Diana Rigg. "The Strange Case of the Missing Corpse" is a promotional short made to promote the show's move from black and white to color. We also get the alternate version of the opening of the show shot for America where the characters are on a chessboard. Finally we get The New Avengers "episode K is for the Kill: The Tiger Awakes". The reason we get it is a cameo by Diana Rigg. It's actually a scene from the 1967 season intercut with footage of Patrick Macnee speaking with Mrs. Peel on the phone. It's a bizarre and contrived cameo that came about when Diana Rigg turned down a request to appear on an episode of the show.
I was never a fan of "The New Avengers" the show just didn't have the wit of the previous one and was far more predictable. We only get the first half of this two part episode which is kind of a problem if you're interested in how it ends and don't want to go out and buy the set it's a part of.
While the earlier episodes are fine they can't match the later ones with Rigg for me simply because I grew up watching them and the writing on the show hit its stride. Mrs. Peel passes the mantel to Tara King in the last episode of the 16th disc. Linda Thorson did an admirable job in her role as Tara. Brian Clemens notes that he feels the writing was best in the last season of the show featuring Tara and Steed. While I would disagree the last season held it's own with the Rigg and Blackman years.
The image quality is to notch with occasional bits of flecking but is free of dirt. The episodes look terrific overall (although there is the occasional bit of damage to the original prints, etc. that crop up). The blacks look rock solid. The color episodes also look quite good although not quite as sharp. The colors pop (and have the dayglo look of pop art).
By the way other retailers are selling this set for significantly less than amazon.com so shop around. Costco has the set for $99.99 a big savings in the US!"
Deborah MacGillivray | US & UK | 10/10/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can still recall the first time I saw Diana Rigg as Mrs. Emma Peel. This was a breath of fresh air for female stars of this period. Honor Blackman's Kathy Gale had opened by eyes, a woman dressed in leather and pants(!) and could hold her own, was intelligent, and did not always need the male to ride to her rescue, WOW! This was totally missing from the women role models on telly in that era. Diana Rigg took that foundation and really made it her own, so everyone quickly forgot about the woman who came before Mrs. Peel. Young girls of today cannot begin to understand what reinforcing role model this was to the "new image" of women. They have no idea how it was frowned upon for women to wear pants. I recall being in the US at a restaurant in the late 60s and it has a sign up behind the register "women in pants will not be served"! Hard to believe, but yes that was the attitude for women's dress of that day. So Emma was the new wave for the independent woman. And what a role model! She was charming, beautiful, but depended upon her mind more than her body. She dressed in Carnaby street stylish jumpsuits, boots, drove like a demon and fought like a man. The whole time with a twinkle in the eye! She was gorgeous, but in a very real way, and wow, did I want to be Emma Peel when I grew up!
I have many of these episodes on tape, but to have them in pristine condition on DVD, it's just a thrill. She and Patrick Macnee, created sparks, though they romance was kept at a distance, and more importantly, they respected each other. So this was a series that was ahead of it's time and with two classy actors, that took the world - and my heart and imagination - by storm.
I still wanna be Emma Peel!!"
Every episode a delightful pleasure
Robert Lyons | Reno, Nevada USA | 08/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have had this precious set since it was first issued.
Informatively, I had the pleasure of seeing Diana Rigg in London, in the play, "Lady Macbeth," many years ago.
I recall staying in a London Hotel when the Avengers were shown on television. In those days one had to rent a TV, as it was not stnndard equipment. I made it a point that where ever I was in the City to hail a taxi and return to the hotel as quickly as possible in order to see the scheduled Avengers program. This procedure lasted as long as it was scheduled.
Not long ago on BBC America, Diana Rigg was interviewed by Parkinson, a popular talk show host. Diana must have been in her Sixties. On her appearance she received a thunderous applause. I was glued to the set. At her stage in life, she was most charming in addition to her intelligent and beautiful personna. Every word she uttered was like music. One realizes how musical the English language is when spoken by Diana.Her interview was most interesting and sadly I do not possess a copy, but am checking the internet to locate a video of her interview.
Now to business: Every episode in the collection is a treasure. In every episode Diana Rigg assumes the appropriate role. At the same time one is aware of the complete Diana Rigg persona.
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel does her own stunts, whereas her most compatable partner, Patrick Macnee uses a stunt man.
Being retired, and living a rather semi reclusive life, I have a daily routine that rarely varies. After looking at the evening news 6PM to 7PM, I must confess that I cannot help but be depressed. In my mid 80's, as you can guess, I have seen much of the world abd was part of the events of the day. When I started this daily routine, at the completion of the news, I would sit quietly and ponder what was shown on the news. Realizing that at my time of life there was nothing I could do but just witness the terrible things that were going on in the world in general. One day, out of the blue, as they say, I chose an Avenger DVD, of the Emma Peel collection. What a delightful surprize. I was shielded from the outside world, and for a too brief period, I was completely mesmerized. So, I made this a daily event for a number of years, and have enjoyed each episode, many times, with the same pleasure as my first viewing. At writing, I am looking forward to choose a DVD for this very evening.
As an aside, the other day on the Larry King Show featuring the memory of Marlyn Monroe, with a few beauties of the 50's and 60's,I could not help but compare them with Diana Rigg who is close to 67. Looking at them and hearing them speak plus a clip showing Monroe gyrating and speaking in her manufactured little girl voice, they paled compared to the charm, dignity and vocal expression of Diana Rigg. In my opinion she is the epitome of femininity and a grace to the human race.
Finally, if I were to be stranded on a desert island, completely on my own and was offered only one consolation prize, I would choose a DVD player with the complete Emma Peel (Avengers) set.
To those who are not acquainted with the Avengers, I heartily recommend the entire set. I guarantee it will give you hours of pleasure no matter how many times you view repeats.
Robert Lyons Reno, Nevada"
Mrs. Peel, you're needed!
David L. White | Everett, WA USA | 03/16/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a fabulous set. All of Di Rigg's Avengers episodes are here, and the quality is pretty darn good. The Black and White episodes aren't perfect quality, but that's the fault of the original source material. However, the B&W episodes on these DVDs still look better than any broadcast that I've seen. The color episodes are nearly perfect quality and colors are brilliant.
I can't say that there is one episode that I really dislike in the whole of the Emma Peel run. Good quality stuff and well worth the price. This set is a terrific value, as the cost to buy the 8 2-disc sets separately would run about double the cost of this set. Extras are a bit thin, just production stills. However, there probably isn't a lot of behind the scenes material for these episodes. If you want to learn about The Avengers, get 'The Avengers & Me' by Patrick Macnee & Dave Rogers which is Patrick Macnee's personal memoir of his years on The Avengers. Also, Dave Rogers' 'The Complete Avengers' is the definitive guide to the series.
Sit back, relax, and escape into the stylish, wonderful, witty world of The Avengers."