Sep 28, 2011

Upcoming Spy DVDs: Avengers Bonus Disc!

Upcoming Spy DVDs: Avengers Bonus Disc!

When Optimum's The Complete Avengers: 50th Anniversary Edition Region 2 DVD collection came out in the UK last May, I lamented buying the company's individual series releases, because only the 39-disc complete set included an exclusive extra disc of bonus features. And among those features were my own personal Holy Grails of Avengers fandom, the weird 8mm short films Diana Rigg made following her color season, The Golden Schlussel and The Mini-Killers. For some reason (well, supposedly because she was paid as much as she eaned for all of On Her Majesty's Secret Service!), she agreed to star as a very Emma Peel-like character in what amounted to expensive German and Spanish-made fan films. (A friend alerted me that another such project, Das Diadem, was included as an Easter Egg with the Series 5 DVDs, though–frustratingly–I have yet to discover it.) Now, happily, it's been reported on The Avengers International Fan Forum that the bonus disc will be made available on its own next month! So fans who bought the individual seasons (myself included) won't miss out after all. (A&E did something similar years ago when they included an extra bonus disc in their Region 1 Complete Emma Peel Megaset.) Retail is £11.99, which seems a tad steep for a disc of ultimately rather skimpy bonus material (compared to that which is already available on the season sets, anyway)... but who am I kidding? I'd probably shell out as much for a bootleg of the Diana Rigg shorts on Ebay anyway! I'm just so glad they're making this disc available on its own that I won't complain at all. The Avengers: Special Features Disc, a Region 2 PAL release, is available to pre-order at Here's the whole list of the features found on the disc, which span all six seasons of the seminal spy series (including, happily, two more of those cool episode reconstructions of lost first season episodes!):

The Golden Schlussel Rare short film starring Diana Rigg
The Mini-Killers – 4 Part mini-series starring Diana Rigg
• Director Laurence Bourne interview
• "Wish You Were Here" – Top Ten Avengers locations featurette
• "Death At Bargain Prices" – Alternate end tag
• Episode reconstruction – "Hot Snow"
• Episode reconstruction – "Toy Trap"
• Newly discovered Series 5 archival trailer
• German cinema trailer


Steve L said...

Regarding Das Diadem: according to a thread in the Avengers fan forum, the easter egg is actually on the 7th disc of series 4. I haven't checked yet (I've already seen the rather terrible short film as part of a similarly terrible homemade compilation of Avengers rarities I bought on eBay several years ago) but I can tell you how to find it (based on the forum member's instruction) if you don't want to look for it.

Tanner said...

Thank you, Steve! I guess I've been searching in the wrong set. Much appreciated!

Steve L said...

No problem. If you need instructions (but it's pretty simple, really), check out

Simes said...

It's a shame that there have been several technical problems with some of the Optimum 'Avengers' discs (a Google search will reveal all I should think).

And be warned. There are apparently problems being reported with the standalone 'extras' disc. I'm not sure how widespread the problem is, but the discs (some of them? all of them?) don't seem to play in any sort of player - DVD, BluRay, PC...etc.

There have been reports from some people that nearly all the 'folders' on the 'standalone' disc (ie Video-TS folder and Audio-TS folder) are empty and that only the pdf folder contains anything!

Just to emphasise, at this moment it's unclear how many discs are affected but BUYER BEWARE!

Tanner said...

Thanks, Simes. I've been reading those reports on the Avengers Forum and meaning to update this post, but haven't had the chance, so thanks for adding this Buyer Beware. I haven't ordered mine yet, and at this point I'm waiting for them to hopefully issue a corrected disc, as they did for so many problems with the season sets.

Yes, this whole remastering from Optimum has been such a paradoxical experience! On the one hand, the episodes really do look the best I've ever seen them look. The remastered transfers are amazing. The bonus features are also wonderful - and plentiful. I've long dreamed of this kind of special features on Avengers releases, but never thought we'd get it. (Though it's a shame they couldn't coax some new commentaries out of Macnee.) The first season episode reconstructions by Alan and Alys Hayes are fantastic, likewise the commentaries and intros from Brian Clemens et al. Perhaps best of all is all the great vault material! Even the PDF material is first-rate! (I loved that Keel comic book included with the first set.) So all SHOULD be well, right?

Well, as you point out, no. I'm not someone who looks for the negative in a great-looking, feature-filled release like this, but the negative is just too plentiful here to ignore, unfortunately. Every single set (or maybe all but one) had a serious error and required discs to be re-pressed and replaced. One set like that I could forgive, maybe even two... but ALL OF THEM???

On top of the widely reported problems with audio and such (which the company has been VERY good about replacing, I should say), there's also an abundance of faulty authoring that people haven't been talking about as much. More than one disc in every single season I own contains episodes that hang up or just won't play. It's horrible! Totally unacceptable. And, no, I can't easily return them since I live in America. So I've held onto my A&E discs, and basically (sadly) they're my watching discs and then I turn to the Optimum ones for special features - when they play. (Some of the affected episodes are the same ones with commentaries, unfortunately.) If I set out to watch an episode on an Optimum disc in my all-region player, I have the A&E disc queued up in my Blu-ray player to switch to when the Optimum one inevitably cuts out. That way I can inconveniently make it through a whole episode watching some scenes in high-quality remastered versions and some in lower quality, but - crucially - PLAYABLE versions.

So I'm really, really grateful to Optimum for putting the care into all these special features. But equally frustrated with them for not putting the same care into quality control! Mainly I'm hoping that A&E licence their special editions (the way they licensed Network's Prisoner special edition) for Blu-ray release here in the US, and we end up with high-quality versions that actually play. I don't see that as a particularly LIKELY scenario... but I can dream, right?

Simes said...

Well I think that dream is TOTALLY attainable myself....I'm sure companies outside of the UK can see the commercial potential in this series - if done properly.

Optimum deserve huge praise for putting the series out in such a comprehensive way but they fell at the final hurdle over poor (non existernt?) quality control. If they ever get round to bringing these out as BluRay's, they wlll have a mountain to climb in convincing British customers to trust them again.

All that said, I'm hoping someone - and it'll probably be Optimum/Studio Canal - will bring out restored and remastered episodes of THE NEW AVENGERS in the near future.

But not with all these problems - please!

Steve L said...

I remember a few years back when the sets were announced and available for (pre-) order.
I immediately ordered all sets from
The closer we got to their release dates, the more we learned about the fantastic picture quality and great special features (from Alan Hayes' superb Avengers Declassified website, among other places), the more excited I became.
I had previously purchased every available episode, by combining the A & E releases (for the Diana Rigg episodes and the bonus disc with the Ian Hendry episodes), the French Studio Canal releases (for Honor Blackman's first season) and the Contender releases (for Honor's second season and Linda Thorson's season).
In fact, the very first DVD's I bought in 2001 (and the main reason why I even bought a DVD player in the first place) were some of Studio Canal's Emma Peel Avengers DVD's.
They were a little faulty (they had an interesting feature called "Follow the Hat" where you could push a button on your remote and be taken to a short interview or an Avengers fact when a "hat" icon popped up on the screen, but you were rarely taken back to where you were in the episode after that; additionally, some episodes froze or just sent you back to the main menu when reaching a chapter change, iirc).
I soon replaced them with the Contender equivalent which had similar faults and added some of their own (loud pop sounds during some episodes).
Contender decided to create their own masters (instead of using Studio Canal's) and all special features were lost in the process.
Over the years, I completed my collection by adding and replacing DVD's from one or the other publisher, ending up ,with a less than homogeneous set of average looking and sounding episodes with few special features.
So, you'll understand my excitement when I heard about these sets and that Jaz Wiseman and Alan Hayes would be involved to some extent.
What I didn't expect (and no one could have expected, despite the history of faulty Avengers DVD's) was that Optimum would make such a mess of things by releasing 4 (out of 5) sets with one or more faulty DVD's.
They did a good job acknowledging (and fixing) most of their mistakes (we still haven't heard anything official about Legacy of Death) but I can't say I've enjoyed shipping all those discs to the UK (from the USA) at my expense and waiting for the corrected discs (two out of four times, I had to e-mail them after a few months when I didn't receive the discs).
I was elated to hear that they had made the bonus disc available separately from the complete boxset (I would actually have loved to hear about the possibility of such a boxset before I started buying all the individual season sets), only to hear from several members of The Avengers Fan Forum that that disc is faulty too (only one forum member has mentioned receiving a working disc and at least three received a non-working one).
I guess I dodged a bullet when I placed my first order in almost two years (when I ordered all 6 seasons of The Avengers!) two days before the announcement of the single disc release and decided to wait before I wanted other things (marked down seasons 9 and 10 of Spooks, probably) to order it.
Since the DVD had been available (fault-free) as part of the complete, I didn't think there was the faintest chance that Optimum would screw up, but once again, I was wrong.
Since I'm a sucker for all things Avengers, I'll definitely buy it as soon as it's safe, but I'm not sure I'll trust Optimum ever again.
Oh, who am I kidding? I'll be the first in line to buy their restored "New Avengers" set!
Once a sucker...