THE AVENGERS: THE COMPLETE 50th Anniversary DVD Collection by Ian Johnston
Well-healed vintage television show junkies with exquisite taste are in for a total ”ËTV OD’ with the release on 9th May 2011 of The Avengers: The Complete 50th Anniversary Collection. First broadcast half a century ago, The Avengers soon became the quintessentially British swinging 1960’s television show, beloved by viewers for generations since it was originally screened.
The Avengers remains an era defining TV series – with its highly imaginative stories of secret agents in Cold War 1960s Britain, combining science fiction with fantasy, groundbreaking fashion, a strong undercurrent of fetishism, simmering sexuality and a unique sense of style, The Avengers abides as the finest example of the spy-SF genre.”Â¨”Â¨Exciting, quirky, bizarre and defiantly surreal, The Avengers pioneered many themes of modern television whilst introducing three of its most memorable characters: the middle aged swinger/male Britannia John Steed (Patrick Macnee) and his witty, intelligent and beautiful crime busting companions Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman in a role originally written for a man) and Emma Peel (Diana Rigg)
.”Â¨”Â¨With a unique vision of Britain and British eccentricity, the innovative series pioneered the use of all manner of narrative trickery, visual illusions and numerous high-tech gadgets. It also produced Steed, brilliantly delineated by Macnee, the archetypal upper crust English gentleman in a razor sharp Savile Row suit, bowler hat and umbrella, who never used a gun in anger – based in part by Macnee upon the suave character Major Hammond of Military Intelligence portrayed by Ralph Richardson in the 1939 British spy film, Q Planes. Alongside Steed were the sexy, powerful women, adept at martial arts in high-heeled “kinky boots”, displaying the possibility of an egalitarian relationship between the sexes and in the process totally redefining the small screen heroine of the era. The Avengers inevitably influenced films and other TV shows of the epoch, including Doctor Who, The Prisoner, The Saint and the James Bond movies.
”Â¨”Â¨The longest running espionage series produced for English-language television, The Avengers eventually reached audiences in 120 countries, a record that still stands to this day. Even the inferior late 60s last series of The Avengers, in which the female partner assigned as Steed’s companion was the inexperienced and comparatively lacklustre agent Tara King, played by Linda Thorson, contains strong and imaginative writing, high production values and the superlative Macnee as a leading man.
Poised between an obsession with modernity of the Harold Wilson’s “white heat of technology”Â 1960s and a reverence for Britain’s past, yet located within its own hermetically sealed world, The Avengers has aged remarkably well. Packed with extras, including screen tests, trailers, German and French title sequences and full commentaries (many featuring the ingenious writer/producer who shaped so much of the series direction once it was shot on film, Brian Clemens), The Avengers: The Complete 50th Anniversary Collection DVD box set is, to use suitable vernacular of the era, fab gear.