The Avengers: The Emma Peel Collection (1965-1967) – Imprint Television #3 (Blu-ray Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Series
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements
Overall

SUMMARY

British spies , the prototypical Englishman John Steed and his sexy female partner Mrs. Peel, take on a number of dangerous criminals in this popular series.

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

American audiences may think of The Avengers as the British counterpart to Get Smart, but in fact The Avengers precedes Get Smart by three seasons. The first iteration of this eccentric British spy comedy/drama began in 1961 and first starred Ian Hendry as Dr. David Keel, a man investigating the murder of his fiancée and office receptionist Peggy by a drug ring who partners with the stranger John Steed (Patrick Macnee), to help him avenge her death, thus the name of the series.

It is not until the second, shortened season (there was a strike during the show’s second year) that the more familiar setup we now know today comes into play. Hendry left the show and Macnee was  made the star, with a revolving cast of young, modern, female co-stars. By the fourth series, a new co-star was on board, Diana Rigg as Mrs. Emma Peel, a woman whose husband had gone missing somewhere over the Amazon. Also of note, this fourth series was the first of the show to be shot on film, the last for The Avengers to be shot in black-and-white, and the first British series ever to be picked up for prime-time broadcast by American television.

There is no wonder why this duo of John Steed and Emma Peel is perhaps one of the most iconic ones for viewers on the American side of the pond. Rigg had replaced Honor Blackman who played the black leather-clad, judo-performing Cathy Gale who could hold her own against any man. This shift in cultural attitudes, Gale’s superstardom, and the rising tide of feminism, did not go unnoticed when it came time to replace Blackman, and the part of Peel was meant as someone with “man appeal” or “m appeal”. Many of the traits of the Gale character were carried over in the equally progressive, yet just as sexy Diana Rigg who became an iconic female role model and sex symbol herself. Meanwhile, Patrick Macnee was evolved into the prototypical English gentleman of yore complete with bowler hat, umbrella, and tailored suits from Saville Row.

It was the interplay between John Steed and his ultra-modern female counterparts, usually amateurs with no spy training, that made the show so interesting. And as the show progressed, even over the course of just this one series, it became less by the books spy thriller, and more comedic sci-fi adventure, with, in the case of series four, Steed and Peel taking on everything from hypnotist airplane hijackers to metallic assassins called “cybernauts.” It is almost as if the world of Doctor Who and James Bond collided and created a quirky spinoff.

The fifth series is a pivotal one for the show for a few reasons. It was the first to be filmed in color, it was the last of the series to star Diana Rigg, and it featured several prominent guest stars including a young Donald Sutherland and a stunning Charlotte Rampling. The producers also decided to introduce a softer style to Emma Peel’s dress; gone were the tight black leather catsuits, in were pastel-colored dresses which also came along with a new fighting style, kung fu.

The Video

This collection of The Avengers from Imprint amounts to a repackaging of the 2015 restoration and remastering of series 4 and 5 of the series from the UK’s StudioCanal.

Series 4 of The Avengers was the first of the show to be shot on film and the 35mm restored and remastered by StudioCanal, still looks stunning fantastic. The image was cleaned up a lot and there is perhaps a tad too much smoothness, but detail is still there, and some grain can be seen and so can textures and dimensionality. Most of all, the series stark black and white has gorgeous contrast especially on my LG CX OLED display.

Series 5, the second of the series included in the collection and also from the 2015 StudioCanal restoration, was the first color series for The Avengers.  While it does not and cannot match the beautiful contrast of series 5’s black and white imagery, the vibrant colors compensate for that and there is an equal amount of detail, granularity, and texture. One can see how playful the production designers were with their newfound freedom as well, adding lots of accents like bright red roses, golden colored guns, and bright yellow pantsuits that really ‘pop’. The image is clean and detailed, if only just a little oversaturated in the flesh tones. Both series appear on Blu-ray in 1.33:1 AVC 1080p encodements.

The Audio

Both series come with the original mono mixes in LPCM 2.0. The sound is clean with little noise and the score is punchy.

The Supplements

The Avengers Emma Peel Collection is loaded with bonus features, most of which have been previously released by StudioCanal, but there are some new appearances here and one new audio commentary as well. The set also comes with a Collectable double-sided Hardbox packaging LIMITED to 1500 copies and a 120-page booklet featuring essay by Dick Fiddy of the British Film Institute and Story Information for every episode taken from the original studio files

Series 4:

Disc 1:

  • “The Town of No Return” — Audio Commentary by Writer Brian Clemens and Director Roy Ward Baker
  • “The Master Minds” – Audio Commentary by Robert Banks Stewart
  • USA Chessboard Opening Title (720p; 00:00:31)
  • Reconstructed John Stamp Series Trailer (720p; 00:00:46)
  • UK Commercial Break Bumper Slate (720p; 00:00:19)
  • “The Master Minds” – Alternative UK Opening/Closing Credits (720p; 00:03:31)
  • “The Master Minds” – Alternative UK Commercial Break Bumpers (720p; 00:00:25)
  • “The Series of No Return” – Audio interview with actress Elizabeth Shepherd (SD; 00:10:40)
  • “Armchair Theatre: The Hothouse” – Starring Diana Rigg (SD; 00:53:13)
  • Photo Galleries:
    • The Town of No Return Featuring Elizabeth Shepherd (1080p)
    • The Town of No Return Featuring Diana Rigg (1080p)
    • The Murder Market (1080p)
    • The Master of Minds (1080p)

Disc 2:

  • “Dial a Deadly Number” Audio Commentary by Writer Roger Marshall
  • “Death at Bargain Prices” – Alternative End Tag Scene (720p; 00:01:24)
  • “Death at Bargain Prices” – Colorisation Test Footage (720p; 00:01:14)
  • “The Cybernauts” – Vintage Patrick Macnee Interview with Behind-the-Scenes Footage (720p; 00:01:07)
  • “The Avengers at 50” – Interview with Director Don Leaver (2011) (SD; 00:42:19)
  • Photo Galleries (1080p):
    • Dial a Deadly Number
    • Death at Bargain Prices
    • Too Many Christmas Trees
    • The Cybernauts

Disc 3:

  • “The Gravediggers” – Variant Opening Titles (720p; 00:03:08)
  • “Mit Schirm, Charme und Melone” – German Opening Titles (720p; 00:00:50)
  • “Chapeau Melon et Bottes de Cuir” – French Opening/Closing Titles (720p; 00:01:55)
  • Photo Galleries (1080p):
    • The Gravediggers
    • Room Without a View
    • A Surfeit of H2O
    • Two’s a Crowd

Disc 4:

  • The Hour that Never Was – Audio Commentary by Director Gerry O’Hara
  • “The Avengers at 50” – Interview with Director Gerry O’Hara (2011) (720p; 00:36:39)
  • Photo Galleries (1080p):
    • Man-Eater of Surrey-Green
    • Silent Dust
    • The Hour that Never Was
    • Castle De’ath

Disc 5:

  • Guest Actor Francis Matthews Recalls Filming “The Thirteenth Hole” (720p/24; 00:00:37)
  • Vintage Newsreels:
    • “The Avengers Fashion Show” (Mute) (720p/24; 00:00:52)
    • “Patrick Macnee’s Wedding Day” (Mute) (720p/24; 00:00:34)
    • “Diana Rigg Interview” (720p/24; 00:00:40)
    • “The Avengers Sold to USA” (Mute) (720p/24; 00:00:24)
  • Photo Galleries (1080p):
    • The Thirteenth Hole
    • Small Game for Big Hunters
    • The Girl from Auntie
    • Quick-Quick Slow Death

Disc 6:

  • “The House that Jack Built” Audio Commentary by Director Don Leaver
  • “A Touch of Brimstone” Colourisation Test Footage (SD; 00:00:59)
  • “Diana Rigg at the BFI” – Interview and Q&A (2015) (1080i/60; 00:28:53)
  • Photo Galleries (1080p):
    • The Danger Makers
    • A Touch of Brimstone
    • What the Butler Saw
    • The House that Jack Built

Disc 7:

  • “The Strange Case of the Missing Corpse” – Series 5 Teaser Film (720p/24; 000:03:17)
  • “The Avengers at 50” (2011):
    • Patrick Macnee Video Message (1080i/60; 00:03:43)
    • Interview with “A Sense of History” Guest Star Carol Cleveland (1080i/60; 00:04:36)
    • Interview with Writer Roger Marshall (1080i/60; 00:38:07)
  • Photo Galleries (1080p):
    • A Sense of History
    • How to Succeed…At Murder
    • Honey for the Prince
    • The Strange Case of the Missing Corpse
    • Publicity Stills

Disc 8 – Series 4 Bonus Features Blu-ray Disc

  • “The Avengers at 50” (2011):
    • Screenwriters Panel Interview with Brian Clemens, Richard Harris, Richard Bates, and Terrance Dicks. (1080i/60; 00:21:24)
    • Interview with Stunt-Double Cyd Child (1080i/60; 00:13:56)
    • Interview with Writer Jeremy Burnham (1080i/60; 00:08:08)
    • Interview with Composer Laurie Johnson (1080i/60; 00:40:07)
  • Diana Rigg German Super 8 Films
    • Das Diadem (720p/60; 00:20:57)
    • Minikillers (1080i/60; 00:41:57):
      • Operation Costa Brava
      • Heroin
      • Macabre
      • Flamenco
    • Der Goldene Schlüssell (1080i/60; 00:06:47)
  • Brian Clemens in Conversation at the BFI (2010) (1080i/60; 00:07:22)
  • The Avengers Fashion Show Photo Gallery (1080p)
  • Diana Rigg Photo Gallery (1080p)

Series 5:

Disc 1:

  • “The Fear Merchants” – Episode Trims (Mute) (1080p; 00:01:00)
  • “Escape in Time” – Episode Trims (Mute) (1080p; 00:03:02)
  • German Television Interview with Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg by Joachim Fuchsberger (1080p; 00:09:32)
  • “Mit Schirm, Charme und Melone” – Series 5 German Opening Titles (1080p; 00:04:30)
  • “The Avengers at 50” (2011) – Interview with Producer/Writer Brian Clemens (1080i/60; 00:21:53)
  • “Granada Plus Points” – Featuring Actor Patrick Macnee, Composer Laurie Johnson, and Stunt-Double Cyd Child (1080i/60; 00:04:11):
    • The Fear Merchants
    • Escape in Time
    • The Bird Who Knew Too Much
  • Photo Galleries (1080p):
    • The Fear Merchants
    • Escape in Time
    • The Bird Who Knew Too Much

Disc 2:

  • Introduction to “The Living Dead” by Writer/Producer Brian Clemens (1080i/60; 00:02:07)
  • “From Venus with Love” — Episode Trims (Mute) (1080p; 00:02:00)
  • “The See-Through Man” – Episode Trims (Mute) (1080p; 00:02:23)
  • “Granada Plus Points” – Featuring Actor Patrick Macnee and Stunt-Double Cyd Child (1080i/60; 00:05:15):
    • From Venus with Love
    • The See-Through Man
    • The Winged Avenger
    • The Living Dead
  • Photo Galleries (1080p):
    • From Venus with Love
    • The See-Through Man
    • The Winged Avenger
    • The Living Dead

Disc 3:

  • Introduction to “The Correct Way to Kill” by Writer/Producer Brian Clemens (1080i/60; 00:02:10)
  • Introduction to “Epic” by Writer/Producer Brian Clemens (1080i/60; 00:02:41)
  • Audio Commentary for “Epic” by Guest Actor Peter Wyngarde
  • “They’re Back” – Vintage Trailers (1080p; 00:00:47)
  • Series 5 Archival Trailer (1080P; 00:01:34)
  • Series 5 German Cinema Trailer (1080P; 00:01:54)
  • “Granada Plus Points” – Featuring Actor Patrick Macnee, Composer Laurie Johnson, and Stunt-Double Cyd Child (1080i/60; 00:04:24):
    • The Hidden Tiger
    • The Correct Way to Kill
    • Never, Never Say Die
    • Epic
  • Photo Galleries (1080p):
    • The Hidden Tiger
    • The Correct Way to Kill
    • Never, Never Say Die
    • Epic

Disc 4:

  • Introduction to “The Superlative Seven” by Writer/Producer Brian Clemens (1080i/60; 00:02:05)
  • Introduction to “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Station” by Writer/Producer Brian Clemens (1080i/60; 00:03:48)
  • Introduction to “The Joker” by Writer/Producer Brian Clemens (1080i/60; 00:03:12)
  • (NEW) Audio Commentary for “The Joker” by Filmmakers Samuel Clemens and George Clemens (sons of writer/producer Brian Clemens) (2022)
  • Vintage Newsreel – “Diana Rigg Receives Television Award”
  • “Granada Plus Points” – Featuring Actor Patrick Macnee and Composer Laurie Johnson (1080i/60; 00:04:51):
    • The Superlative Seven
    • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Station
    • Something Nasty in the Nursery
    • The Joker
  • Photo Galleries (1080p):
    • The Superlative Seven
    • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Station
    • Something Nasty in the Nursery
    • The Joker

Disc 5:

  • Audio Commentary on “Return of the Cybernauts” by Stunt-Double Cyd Child
  • “The Avengers at 50” (2011) – Interview with Patrick Macnee Biographer Marie Cameron (1080i/60; 00:16:52)
  • “Granada Plus Points” – Featuring Actor Patrick Macnee and Composer Laurie Johnson (1080i/60; 00:03:19):
    • Who’s Who???
    • Death’s Door
    • Return of the Cybernauts
  • Photo Galleries (1080p):
    • Who’s Who???
    • Death’s Door
    • Return of the Cybernauts

Disc 6:

  • Introduction to “The £50,000 Breakfast” by Guest Actress Anneke Wills (1080i/60; 00:01:22)
  • “The Avengers at 50” (2011):
    • Interview with Stunt-Coordinator Raymond Austin (1080i/60; 00:20:35)
    • Interview with Guest Actress Anneke Wills (1080i/60; 00:12:09)
  • “Granada Plus Points” – Featuring Actor Patrick Macnee, Stunt-Double Cyd Child, and Writer Roger Marshall (1080i/60; 00:04:02):
    • Dead Man’s Treasure
    • The £50,000 Breakfast
    • You Have Just Been Murdered
  • Photo Galleries (1080p):
    • Dead Man’s Treasure
    • The £50,000 Breakfast
    • You Have Just Been Murdered

Disc 7:

  • Introduction to “Murdersville” by Producer/Writer Brian Clemens (1080i/60; 00:02:01)
  • Audio Commentary for “Murdersville” by Producer/Writer Brian Clemens
  • Bonus Series 6 Episode:
    • The Forget-Me-Knot
  • “The Avengers: A Retrospective” – 1993 Home Video Promotional Program Presented by Patrick Macnee (1080p; 01:02:50)
  • Diana Rigg 1973 Interview with Bobby Wygant (1080i/60; 00:06:00)
  • “K is for Kill” – Excerpt from “The New Avengers” Episode Featuring Mrs. Peel (1080i/60; 00:01:37)
  • “Granada Plus Points” – Featuring Actor Patrick Macnee and Writer Roger Marshall (1080i/60; 00:05:16):
    • Murdersville
    • The Positive-Negative Man
    • Mission…Highly Improbable
    • The Forget-Me-Knot
  • Photo Galleries (1080p):
    • Murdersville
    • The Positive-Negative Man
    • Mission…Highly Improbable
    • The Forget-Me-Knot
    • Publicity

Disc 8 – Series 5 Bonus Features Blu-ray Disc – The Original Episodes:

  • Series 2 Episode 8:
    • Death of a Great Dane – Remade as The £50,000 Breakfast (SD)
    • Optional Audio Commentary by Writer Roger Marshall
  • Series 3 Episode 7:
    • Don’t Look Behind You – Remade as The Joker (SD)
    • Introduction by Patrick Macnee and Honor Blackman (SD; 00:01:56)
    • Audio Commentary by Honor Blackman and Paul O’Grady
  • Series 3 Episode 18:
    • Dressed to Kill – Remade as The Superlative Seven (SD)
  • Series 3 Episode 24:
    • The Charmers – Remade as The Correct Way to Kill (SD)

The Final Assessment

It is always fun to revisit The Avengers series, especially the classic Emma Peel episodes with the then young and gorgeous Diana Rigg. If you are a fan of this series and did not pick these up several years ago when StudioCanal first restored and remastered them around its 50th anniversary, then this is the collection for you. Highly recommended.


The Avengers: The Emma Peel Collection (1965-1967) – Imprint Television #3 is out on Blu-ray in Australia December 7, 2023 from Imprint. Available for Purchase in on the Via Vision/Imprint Website.


  • Rating Certificate: Australia: PG
  • Studios & Distributors: Associated British Corporation | ITV – Independent Television | StudioCanal UK | Imprint Television
  • Run Time: 2255 Mins.
  • Street Date: 7 December 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: English LPCM 2.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English HOH
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British spies , the prototypical Englishman John Steed and his sexy female partner Mrs. Peel, take on a number of dangerous criminals in this popular series. The Avengers: The Emma Peel Collection (1965-1967) – Imprint Television #3 (Blu-ray Review)
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