The Avengers Series 4 (Blu-ray TV series review).

If you’re buying the blu-ray version of ‘The Avengers’, you probably either don’t have the DVD version or been watching it recently on digital television and want the show sans advert breaks. However, if you’re an ‘Avengers’ fan regardless of medium and think you haven’t got everything about the show, then there is a wealth of extras here. So, let’s pick the highlights and the odd lowlights because I suspect that will sway us long-term fans.


There is an interview with Elizabeth Shepherd and her filming of ‘The Town Of No Return’. It’s a rather interesting contrast in her being asked to contribute ideas and then seeing things change. Seeing the stills, I have to confess that she looks like a blonde version of Honor Blackman, even in colour. There is also a massive photo gallery that pales the DVD version and some stills from Shepherd’s only episode. It does make you wonder if the episode has stashed in some archive somewhere.

Seeing some alternative opening and closing credits harkens back to the early Avengers, Objectively, enlarging blanched photos was done in many series back then but in the days of black and white smaller television sets, it probably looked less blotchy than it does today.

Unless you’ve bought the ‘Armchair Theater’ boxset, it’s unlikely that you would have come across Diana Rigg’s fourth TV appearance and first co-starring part in ‘The Hot House’. As Anita Fender, she thinks her husband Harry (actor Harry H. Corbett) is having an affair and wants to temp him with his deputy manager Gordon Parsley (actor Donald Churchill)’s wife Charlotte (actress Miranda Connell) on a weekend meal. You can see this story being run as a theatre production but it is still very watchable and see why La Rigg’s star was rising.

I was surprised and glad there were three audio commentaries. The first has scriptwriter Roger Marshall giving some insight into the early days of ‘The Avengers’ and his scripted ‘Dial A Deadly Note’ where he thought that their move into the more, shall we say, fantasy aspects wasn’t to his choosing.

The extras with the story ‘Death At Bargain Prices’ includes some colour footage and an alternative but weaker comedic ending. What is interesting about the photo gallery is in some stills, Diana Rigg’s stunt double is seen and clearly a man. They also show Ray Austin teaching Rigg the moves that she has to perform in the fight. Oh, in case anyone is paying attention to the puppets, they are Steve Zodiac and Venus but with Steed and Emma’s heads. Thinking about it, I doubt if there were any other choices back then. In terms of toy placements we have everything from Pailtoy Daleks to Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound which you wouldn’t be able to get away without a lot of permissions today.

It’s rather interesting seeing the German titles, which does make sense considering this blu-ray set is going to be released there, although more puzzling with the French titles. Other than spelling, there is little difference.

Just in case I haven’t mentioned it before, the farm where the space capsule crashed down in ‘The Man-Eater From Surrey Green’ looks awfully like the farm used in ‘UFO’s ‘The Long Sleep’.

The audio commentary with director Gerry O’Hara over the first of his two ‘Avengers’ episodes, ‘The Hour That Never Was’, is very revealing and the main reason he took up writing himself. The story is still used as the example of ‘The Avengers’ at its best.

There are also episode reconstructions using stills from the first season of ‘To Kill The King’ and ‘Dead Of Winter’. If anything, although weirdly interesting, was probably the closest to padding in the entire boxset. Each ran at quarter of an hour but the first series episodes were only twenty-five minutes long.

There is also a sample minute of colour footage from ‘A Touch Of Brimstone’ showing you know who in Hellfire regalia. In many respects, these are tests for the next year when the show would be filmed in colour. As a top show that was being sold abroad, ‘The Avengers’ would certainly have been on top of the list to be filmed that way.

The audio commentary with director Don Lever over his second episode ‘The House That Jack Built’ was interesting. I didn’t know that producer Julian Wintle didn’t want any of the video-based directors from the previous series nor for that matter than Diana Rigg didn’t want to discuss her most famous role.

‘The Case Of The Missing Bodies’ is a colour sampler for the fifth season and has a brief cameo from actress Valerie Van Ost who later appears in ‘Dead Man’s Treasure’.

‘The Diadem’ is a 17 minute German short film starring Diana Rigg as some sort of agent after a tiara and others are after her to get it off her. All done without words and although there are no credits, it does sound a lot like a Laurie Johnson melody. A copy of this is on the likes of YouTube but having your own copy at TV size is better. I suspect for many, this will be something you’ve never heard of before.

Did I say there are stacks of stills, a few with a scattering of colour? I found myself wandering through after each episode. They divide into studio shots, scenes and behind the scenes. There’s also some footage from a John Bates fashion show and some promotional interviews.

If that hasn’t persuaded you to part with your cash, we also have the complete season four which set the format for ‘The Avengers’ for the next three seasons. I should point out that the format is set for the original square block viewing. I watched it that way for one episode and then used my TV’s QMenu and Zoom1 and went widescreen. You lose about half an inch at the top of the screen but felt better than being distracted by the black chunks either side of the picture. This didn’t interfere with any of the extras. A great viewing and can’t wait for the next season in colour.

GF Willmetts

February 2015

(region B: pub: Studio Canal. 7 blu-ray discs 1295 minutes 26 * 50 minute episodes with extras. Price: £57.50 (UK). ASIN: B002SZQC5C)

languages: English and German

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