A&E Home Video presents
The Avengers '67—Set 2, Volume 3 (1967)
"...a certain bourgeois, capitalistic, decadent touch."- Mrs. Peel
Stars: Patrick Macnee, (Dame) Diana Rigg
MPAA Rating: Not RatedRun Time: Approx.170 min total
Release Date: 1999-04-27
DVD ReviewFor overall series review, click here.
'67 Set 2, Volume 3
The Living Dead
Steed Finds a Mine of Information—Emma Goes Underground
US air date: March 3 1967
Director: John Krish
"Ghoulies and ghosties and things that go bump in the night." - Emma Peel
Kermit the Hermit, the town drunk, stumbles into the churchyard just in time to see the ghost of the late Duke of Benedict rise from his crypt. Our skeptical protagonists discover that Kermit has also been hearing sounds seeming to emanate from an old mine, sealed off a decade ago after a disastrous cave-in.
Another plot that revolves around evildoers from some unnamed country, organizing, and here literally, an underground plot to conquer Britain. This episode is particularly similar to many X-Files stories in which paranormal circumstances lead to some secret scientific explanation—revealing the dues we owe to The Avengers as trendsetters, 2 decades later.
This re-purposed plot line is growing thin: earlier incarnations were much more interesting and amusing. And it continued to thrive—I recently saw an episode of The New Avengers in which a group of Nazis inhabit a tiny Scottish isle where they are hiding the body of Hitler, in stasis, awaiting the time they can invade Britain and prevail. But it is always a delight when Emma rescues Steed, and she does here, as he stands blindfolded before a firing squad, embodying the whole of British decorum to the veddy end. And fans will thrill at the peck she earns from her partner for his deliverance.
An interesting note: although the particulars of Britain's enemies are never divulged (in the original Avengers), it is the series' pattern to portray the Soviets, for the most part, as bumbling—but when we have serious threats to the crown, the hint is always German. Memories of those air raids live long; a fear to be respected.
Libations: Steed has a glass of bubbly and 2 drinks at the pub; Emma out-does him with the addition of a glass of wine. I was under the table much sooner, rating this episode a 3 of 5.
The Hidden Tiger
Steed Hunts a Big Cat—Emma is Badly Scratched
US air date: March 17 1967
Director: Sidney Hayers
Cheshire: "Now, Steed—the name of your beloved pussy?"
I have been a lover of all things feline from earliest memory, proof being that I commandeered my sister's stuffed "Kitten" as soon as I could crawl. Tragically, my mother claimed to fear cats, so I was deprived of any feline companionship until I left home. Those on my mother's side of the alley might respond in terror to this story line, but this catsprite is in kitty heaven with this classic Avengers episode. It has everything purrr-fect to rate it one of the series' best and a popular fan favorite.
The story begins with the curious death of—if not a businessman, who else?—an elite scientist, apparent mauled by a ferocious feline at an experimental farm. Steed and Mrs. Peel stake out the area in an attempt to capture the wild beast, and as it eludes them, the body count rises.
Their investigation eventually leads them to P.U.R.R.R., the Philanthropic Union for the Rescue, Relief and Recuperation of Cats. The well-intentioned organization's head, Mr. Cheshire, seemingly an innocent in his fellow cat-lovers' dastardly plan, is a first class Avengers-style character. There is, as Emma puts it, an " odd laboratory", manned by a Dr. Manx and a cat-eyed woman called Angora, where a plot is evolving to unleash the tiger "inside every cat" to create a national "cat-astrophe".
Emma muttering "Pussies galore!" (as she's made her way passed scores of kitties to rescue Steed) is only an example of the wonderful, witty double-entendres and asides, the exclamation points in this solid script, which earns its admission price doubly in the second half. Fans are invited inside this humor, knowing that Honor Blackman (AKA Cathy Gale, Steed's original female partner), left the show to play "Pussy Galore" in Goldfinger. As a bonus for true Avengers fans, the sly but undeniable hints of affection abounding in this episode are the ultimate treat!
Note to the continuity editor: As the bad guys take off in the van, there's a cut to the calico curled quietly on the seat beside the driver which cuts to a shot over its shoulder toward the driver in which the cat is sitting up...next cut is the same as the first, with the cat curled up again.
Libations: Barely time for a glass of milk, but I rate this 5-1/2 saucers of cream out of 5 (hey, I made the rules, I can break them.)
THE CORRECT WAY TO KILL
Steed Changes Partners—Emma Joins the Enemy
US air date: March 24 1967
Director: Charles Crichton
Steed: "If he had been naughty, they might have had the good manners to pop him off in his own country."
Mrs. Peel: "Leaves us with all the paperwork."
Steed: "Other than that, it's just not ethical...it's just not cricket."
Back in the world of cold war espionage, Steed-style clones are offing spies "from the other side" on this side and this side is being blamed. When one of their operatives is sent to even the numbers with Steed, he convinces his assailant that a third party is having them on and asks to be taken to his leader instead.
When Steed has his tête á tête with Comrade Nutski, they decide to combine resources to uncover this third party (and to keep an eye on each other) and in order to get back to business-as-usual. Emma is teamed with the Steed's assailant; this leads Steed to sigh, "How I envy you working cheek-to-jowl with Ivan", to which Emma replies, "I can assure you my cheek will be nowhere near his jowl...." Steed pairs with the zealous Olga, to whom he must constantly preach the western concept of "subtlety".
The plot is a bit lazy, consisting of interesting sets and scenes that easily lose their connection. There is a chiropodist's office and a raingear seller's (each the setting of both comedy and tragedy), and a "finishing" school called S.N.O.B., for, well, snobs (aptly named, in that infamous Avenger form, the acronym—in this case, for: Sociability, Nobilty, Omnipotence, Breeding, Inc.) We're aware they tie together in some way, but it all remains a bit hazy; still, the story moves forward, thanks to the strength of the individual scenes. There's a fabulous fencing duel between Emma and 2 of the students which improves further when Olga joins in, and the final scene is a delicious meal as Steed and Emma discuss Olga over brekkies.
Note to continuity editor: Who's the guy in the chair fencing with the master in his office? O! it's Steed—no, his double—no, Steed...!
Libations: Steed: wine, vodka and coffee in the morning; Emma: wine and coffee. This is a cork-popper - 5 out of 5.
Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A+
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: These discs from A&E are really superb. The colors are smooth and even, in the "palette" of the time. These could have aired last week, the transfer is that clean. No noticable flaws or jumps. Bravo!
Image Transfer Grade: B+
Audio Transfer Review: Laurie Johnson's music prevails season after season, equal to the scenes it underscores. Admittedly, my audio set up leaves much to be desired; but everything comes through even and clean.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Scene Access with 27 cues and remote access
- Production Stills Gallery
- Web Site Promo
The extras consist of a gallery of stills from individual episodes included on each disc - these are a bit bigger and so easier to enjoy, but I found the tabular interface confusing, and the number of images disappointing. Every disc also has a menu link to A&E's "www.originalavengers.com", a good marketing move but poorly executed - why not give us a real taste of what's in store for us there? Bios, interviews, scripts—all would be welcomed by aficionados and newcomers alike.
Extras Grade: D+
Final CommentsThe best disc of the '67 series, one of the best overall. 3 great episodes together make it this cat(sprite)'s pajamas—merrrrooooow...!
debi lee mandel 2000-05-07