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The Avengers: The Complete Series 4 [UK] Blu-ray Review

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The Series

[Rating:4.5/5]

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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 isn’t 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 now 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 and 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’s no wonder why this particular 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, Gales 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’s almost as if the world of Doctor Who and James Bond collided and created a quirky spinoff.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

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Series 4 of The Avengers was in fact the first of the show to be shot on film and this 35mm source, restored and remastered, brought to Blu-ray in an AVC 1080p transfer by StudioCanal, looks absolutely fantastic. There has been a lot of cleanup, but it doesn’t look too smooth. One can still see some natural grain in the image, but not an overwhelming amount, and textures are still present. The black and white imagery (this was also the last to be shot in black and white) also looks glorious, with excellent contrast.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

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We get the original monaural soundtrack in LPCM 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit) and its sounds great on this Blu-ray release from StudioCanal. Noise has been virtually eliminated, the dialogue is clear, and there’s a decent amount of punch to the jazzy score from Laurie Johnson.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:4/5]

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This set is packed to the gills with everything from commentaries, to behind-the-scenes footage, interviews and more.

  • Episode Commentaries:
    • “The Town of No Return” commentary with Brian Clemens and Roy Ward Baker
    • “The Master Minds” commentary with Robert Banks Stewart
    • “Dial a Deadly Number” commentary with Roger Marshall
    • “The Hour that Never Was” commentary with Gerry O’Hara
    • “The House that Jack Built” commentary with Don Leaver
  • Interview with Elizabeth Shepherd (00:10:40) – A telephone interview with the original “Mrs. Peel”
  • Armchair Theatre – The Hothouse Starring Diana Rigg (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:53:13)
  • “The Master Minds” Alternate UK Opening & Closing Credits (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:03:22)
  • “The Master Minds” Alternate UK Bumper Slate (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:00:25)
  • Standard UK Bumper Slate (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:00:18)
  • USA Chessboard Opening Sequence (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:00:30)
  • Stills Galleries (1080p/24):
    • The Town of No Return – Elizabeth Shepherd
    • The Town of No Return – Diana Rigg
    • The Murder Market
    • The Master Minds
  • Colourised Test Footage from “Death at Bargain Prices” (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:01:11)
  • Alternative End Tag Scene from “Death at Bargain Prices” (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:01:20)
  • Behind the Scenes of “The Cybernauts” (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:01:04)
  • Stills Galleries (Disc 2) (1080p/24):
    • Dial a Deadly Number
    • Death at Bargain Prices
    • Too Many Christmas Trees
    • The Cybernauts
  • Variant Opening Title Credits for “The Gravediggers” (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:03:00)
  • German Opening Titles (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:00:48)
  • French Opening/Closing Titles (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:01:50)
  • Stills Galleries (Disc 3) (1080p/24):
    • The Gravediggers
    • Room Without a View
    • A Surfeit of H20
    • Two’s a Crowd
  • Episode Reconstruction – “Kill the King” (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:14:30)
  • Stills Galleries (Disc 4) (1080p/24):
    • Man-Eater of Surrey Green
    • Silent Dust
    • The Hour that Never Was
    • Castle De’ath
  • ITN Newsreel Footage:
    • Fashion Show (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:00:50)
    • Patrick MacNee’s Wedding (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:00:32)
    • Diana Rigg’s Interview (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:00:38)
    • Avengers Sold to USA (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:00:13)
  • Episode Reconstruction – “Dead of Winter” (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:14:22)
  • Reconstructed John Stamp Avengers Trailer (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:00:44)
  • Stills Galleries (Disc 5) (1080p/24):
    • The Thirteenth Hole
    • Small Game for Big Hunters
    • The Girl from Auntie
    • Quick-Quick Slow Death
  • Colourised Test footage from “A Touch of Brimstone” (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:00:59)
  • Stills Galleries (Disc 6) (1080p/24):
    • The Danger Makers
    • Touch of Brimstone
    • What the Butler Saw
    • The House that Jack Built
  • The Strange Case of the Missing Corpse (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:03:09)
  • Diana Rigg in The Diadem (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:20:57)
  • Stills Galleries (Disc 7) (1080p/24):
    • A Sense of History
    • How o Succeed…at Murder
    • Honey for the Prince
    • Publicity Stills
    • The Strange Case of the Missing Corpse


The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

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The adventure begins with one of the defining series in this cult favorite British TV show. The Avengers is a pure delight, both for its content and for its nearly flawless video and audio quality.

Additional Screen Captures


[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B002SZQC5C[/amazon-product]

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