A&E Home Video presents
The Avengers '68—Set 2, Volume 2 (1968)
John Steed: "Red noses. What does that conjure up?"
Tara King: "Inebriates?"- Patrick Macnee, Linda Thorson
Stars: Patrick Macnee, Linda Thorson
Director: Various (see below)
Manufacturer: Studio Canal
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (minor violence)
Run Time: approx.156 min total
Release Date: 2001-10-30
DVD ReviewFor overall 1968 review, click here.
'68 Volume 4
Look (Stop Me If You've Heard This One)...But There Were These Two Fellers (51m:23s)
Director: James Hill
Tara King: "The honorable T.R. Cleghorn was drowned."
John Steed: "And bopped. Severely on the top of his aristocratic head."
This represents one of the more bizarre and surreal episodes of the 1968 season, most certainly one of the more cartoon-ish. Board members of the Caritol Land & Development company are being murdered by a pair of killers dressed as clowns. As the tale unfolds, we learn that the killers are part of a demented group of former vaudeville acts who are ruled by an almost demonic Punch & Judy puppet act. Steed and King find themselves chasing the evil vaude-villains, ending up at The Vaude Villa, which is a sort of rest home for unwanted theatrical acts. The episode culminates with Steed involved in a creepy, but slapstick-laced quick change sequence while pretty, young Tara almost becomes the first woman burned in two. Champagne intake by The Avengers for this particular edition is startlingly nonexistent. Pity, really.
Notable cameos by a somewhat subdued John Cleese as a man who has every clowns face in Britain painted on eggs ("large size"), and An American Werewolf In London's John Woodvine as a member of the Caritol board.
This episode rates 5 martinis:
Have Guns... Will Haggle (51m:21s)
Director: Ray Austin
John Steed: "I think I'll pay a call on Colonel Nsonga."
Tara King: "Uninvited?"
John Steed: "Undetected."
A group of rather pudgy, blue turtleneck-clad robbers, in Halloween masks, trampoline into a supposedly secure ordnance facility and make off with 3,000 highly experimental FF70 rifles. Of course it's up to Steed and King to prevent sexy arms dealer Lady Beardsley from offering the weapons to the violent Colonel Nsonga, to be used as part of an uprising in his country. For reasons that aren't made entirely clear, Tara goes undercover in an odd blonde wig and a weirdly hip pink fur coat. All is not lost, however, as Miss King, sans wig, appears in a smart tartan mini during the episode's final fifteen minutes.
This did not have the usual zing of a typical installment of The Avengers. An especially bad process shot of Steed driving is embarrassingly laughable, and Tara looked a bit like Stockard Channing at times in her blonde wig.
This episode rates 3 Martinis:
They Keep Killing Steed
Director Robert Fuest
John Steed: "Gentlemen. I use the word loosely. I have a shrewd suspicion this is dirty work afoot."
The Avengers are assigned to work as internal security at a high-profile peace conference. Unfortunately, the evil villain Arcos, who resembles director David Lynch more than casually, has concocted a scheme to replicate Steed and infiltrate the conference. Arcos' technique involves a kooky contraption that can reshape "the molecular structure" of someone's face, or as Steed calls it: "instant plastic surgery." After kidnapping Steed, it is only a matter of substituting him with a look-a-like to wreak havoc. Tara gets involved with a hunky blonde Baron, and manages to knock back more than a few cocktails to the point of near inebriation. The episode culminates in a seemingly endless parade of phony Steeds, a sword fight, and of course an explosion.
They Keep Killing Steed, while working the potentially tired "duplicate" story line, does have its fair share of bright spots. Mother and his statuesque Amazonian blonde assistant appear briefly in a wonderfully funny sequence involving an underwater hideout. The villain Arcos is hilarious, in a very subtle, almost subdued way. Great stuff.
This episode rates 4 Martinis:
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||no|
Image Transfer Review: Presented in a decent 1.33:1 full-frame transfer, these discs look surprisingly good. However, the Have Gun...Will Haggle episode had some significant spots and nicks near the end that were fairly noticeable.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: A&E presents The Avengers with a perfectly adequate mono track that does not suffer any serious limitations. Dialogue is clean and clear, and Laurie Johnson's shagadelic score comes across terrific, too. A minor audio glitch at the conclusion of Have Gun...Will Haggle is not a major issue, but it was somewhat glaring.
Audio Transfer Grade: B+
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 22 cues and remote access
- Production Stills Gallery
Each episode has 7 to 8 chapter stops, which is more than adequate for a 50-minute program.
Extras Grade: C
Final CommentsThe Avengers had a long and successful British run throughout the 1960s. A&E's release of the Tara King episodes is a required purchase for all fans of the series.
Completely groovy. Cheers.
Rich Rosell 2001-10-24