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Avengers '67: Box One

Review by Gordon Dymowski

Yes, in addition to my usual "ADVENTURES IN MATURITY" piece, I decided to write about one of my Christmas gifts, which was this three-video boxed set, the first of four rereleases. I can understand why the movie tanked - people were saving up their pennies to purchase these sets, which is the Avengers done right. I mean, any movie with Uma Thurman - a chick loopy enough to *breed* with Ethan Hawke, much less do the nasty with him - deserves to tank. But enough of my slams - my open letter to Joel Schumaker speaks for itself...

I remember watching this as a small child, staying up late against my mom's wishes, and fell in love with this series. Patrick MacNee and Diana Rigg portrayed John Steed and Emma Peel, two secret agents who fought larger-than-life menaces with tongues firmly in cheek, and who were partners in every sense of the word. Watching the episodes on this boxed set have made me realize that 1) I intend to get the other three boxed sets, and 2) this is a series that, in many ways, was a product of - and ahead of - its time. Whoever had the bright idea to make it into a movie...lost the point.

These episodes - as well as the other released - have been "digitally remastered", and the work shows - the film is crisp and clean, and looks like it was shot yesterday. The sound is perfect, and sounds as if Steed and Mrs. Peel were in your own living room. Unlike the original Star Trek, where "remastered" episodes appear on the Sci-Fi Channel, there's not an ounce of cheese to be found. If you like British humor, well, this is British drama with a slightly humorous touch. The scripts sparkle with lively dialogue, MacNee and Rigg share a chemistry untouched and unduplicated, and some of the casting is inventive, such as a pre-Doctor Who Jon Pertwee playing a military general in "From Venus with Love"....

And the plots...without going into detail, the Avengers formula seemed to consist of an impossibly fantastic situation explained by an impossibly plausible situation. "From Venus With Love" starts out with the premise that invaders from Venus may be in our midst, and...well, that would be telling. "The Fear Merchants" begins with a man, in his pajamas, in the middle of Wembley stadium...and he begins screaming. "Escape in Time" seems to involve time travel, "The See Through Man" is self-explanatory...only "The Winged Avenger", about a comic book character seemingly come to life, seems rather dated...but contains an oh-so clever Batman reference...

If there's one strike against the boxed set, it's that it *is* a product of its time - it's reflected in Rigg's choice of fashions (which were, in the mid-1960s, cutting edge), the slightly over-the-top surrealism in some areas, and the cars driven. However, if you liked Austin Powers, you will really dig this boxed set...and others. It's shagadelic, baby!


(Out of five)

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