Aug 26, 2010

Latest Avengers Special Features Announced

The Avengers Declassified has revealed the special features on the latest volume of remastered Avengers Special Edition DVDs in the UK from Optimum Entertainment, and once again it's a mouthwatering assembly of goodies. Besides a beautiful remastered picture looking better than ever (if previous installments are anything to go by), The Avengers: The Complete Series 5, a 7-disc set comprising the color Emma Peel episodes, will include multiple audio commentaries, episode introductions, cut scenes, archival television presentations and more.  Brian Clemens contributes a commentary track for "Murdersville," as does scriptwriter Richard Harris on "The Winged Avenger." Diana Rigg sadly doesn't do a commentary, but her stunt double, Cyd Child, does, on "Return of The Cybernauts." And possibly best of all, we get a commentary from scene-stealing guest star Peter Wyngarde on his greatest, most scenery-chewsing Avengers role in the classic episode, "Epic," one of my personal favorites! But that's not all... 

Clemens provides filmed episode introductions to "The Bird Who Knew Too Much," "The Living Dead," "Epic," "The Correct Way To Kill," "The Superlative Seven," (love those two!), "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Station," "The Joker" (oh, another favorite!) and "Murdersville." There's also a German TV interview with Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg, ATV newsreel footage of Rigg receiving a TV Award, "film trims" (short cut bits) from "The Fear Merchants," "Escape in Time," "From Venus With Love" and "The See-Through Man," a "They're Back!" archive trailer, original Sixties German titles, "Granada Plus Points" for each episode (previously released as "Follow the Hat" on the old UK Contender DVDs), stills galleries, copious PDF material (scripts, TV Times, etc.), an insert reprint of the original Series 5 promotional brochure, more painstaking "episode reconstructions" for lost Series 1 episodes ("One For The Mortuary," "Death on The Slipway," "Tunnel of Fear" and "Dragonsfield") and the 1993 documentary presented by Patrick Macnee, "The Avengers – A Retrospective." Whew! Just typing all those episode titles gets me really excited to watch them again.  The Avengers is my very favorite spy show (and Rigg's tenure my favorite era on it), and it's been a long while since I've watched it.  I've been vacationing, exploring all the other British adventure shows of the era, for pretty much the duration of this blog, and I look forward to returning to my spy fan roots, so to speak, just as it's always refreshing to go back to Bond after long stints of Eurospy watching. I just wish these sets weren't so expensive to import.  Hopefully some enterprising American company will pick up the rights abandoned by A&E, port the features from Optimum and re-release the show Stateside on DVD and Blu-ray. 

The Avengers: The Complete Series 5, a PAL Region 2 DVD set, comes out September 27.  SRP is £59.99, but it's currently available for pre-order from for £42.99.


Jonathan Melville said...

Thanks for the preview, it looks a must-have set, as with the others. It's still hard to believe so much care is put into these considering releases of modern series are often bare bones.

Are there any spy series left that you want to see on DVD that haven't been released, a holy grail?

Tanner said...

Oh wow, that's a good question! And of course I don't have a simple answer. Luckily, most of my true Holy Grail shows have now been released in some region at least. I think the most Graily one remaining for me is a surprisingly recent show, and not an old obscurity: the Disney Channel cartoon Kim Possible. I think a few seasons have come out in Germany, but I would love a Region 1 release of this very smart and clever spy parody.

The remaining American shows from the Sixties that I see as necessities are The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., T.H.E. Cat and It Takes A Thief. The latter is supposed to be released soon, and just came out in Germany as well. The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. has enough name recognition and enough of a guaranteed fan base that it's really inexcusable that it's not available! Maybe there's a rights issue; I don't know.

Of the British Sixties shows, I think we've got almost everything now, mostly thanks to Network in the UK. I was always curious about things like The Sentimental Agent and The Four Just Men, and now we've even got those rarities. Hopefully they'll eventually issue the entire ITC catalog, which keeps managing to surprise me with shows I didn't know existed. But one that's not out that I would like to see is Virgin of the Secret Service, about a Colonial-era spy. I love it when Network cranks out obscure shows I've never heard of before like the recent Corridor People. I always hope there are more of those to come! And on the subject of British shows, America really deserves Region 1 releases of Department S, the rest of The Champions and The Saint (both of which A&E started but didn't finish) and, most of all, Adam Adamant Lives!, of which there is an excellent Region 2 release available.

There are a lot more shows from the 70s through the 00s missing in action than from the Sixties now. Of those, I most want Game, Set, Match, Quiller and the 80s incarnation of Mission: Impossible. I'm guessing we'll get the latter from Paramount around the time M:I:4 comes out in theaters. Other shows I'd love to see on DVD off the top of my head (now plunging somewhat into the obscure) and in no particular order:

Amos Burke, Secret Agent
Assignment: Vienna
A Man Called Sloan
Matt Helm
Under Cover
Spy Game
The remaining seasons of Scarecrow and Mrs. King

I'm probably leaving out some biggies, but that's all I can think of at the moment. Readers, please comment with other spy shows we're missing on DVD! I've written so much that I should probably reprint this as a whole post once we've assembled a more thorough list...