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With the success of The Avengers in the States and the increasing reliance on American money to make the show, it was inevitable that season five would burst onto the screen in full blown colour, even if ITV was three years away from showing colour in Britain, where it would continue to portray an eccentric version of England. One which, while it never existed, became a desired fantasy trope.
The Avengers: The Complete Series 5 (1967. 24 x 50 min) was to be Diana Rigg's second and last series with Patrick Macnee as Steed and Mrs Emma Peel. To fit in with an American series run, series five consisted of twenty-four episodes.
The move to colour meant the show lost a little of its charm as it increased its focus on Diana Rigg’s outfits, even providing her with a cat suit. Likewise, the stories started to be a little formulaic. That said, the worst of the whimsical Avengers beats the best of most shows, with its focus on the surreal.
The show toyed with some changes, the first sixteen episodes commence with Steed contacting Mrs Peel in increasingly bizarre ways with the simple words ‘Mrs Peel, We’re Needed’ eventually this was dropped as unnecessary as were the tag lines.
The series is presented on a wonderful six disc Blu-ray set. The show is presented with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 AVC 1080 encoded. Colour is vivid, with good saturation and lifelike skin tones, helped, no doubt by the fact that the show was filmed, rather than videotaped.
Like Series Four, the set is overflowing with extras. Disc one, Episode trims from Escape in Time (3 min, 01 sec) which presents some pieces cut out of the final how, and unfortunately they are silent. There is also the same type of trims for The Fear Merchants (1 min). Brian Clemens provides an introduction to The Bird Who Knew too Much (2 min, 19 sec). Next up is a German interview with Macnee and Rigg (9 min, 32 sec), it’s a light little number only spoiled by the fact that the interviewer has to translate everything they say into German.
The 1960’s German titles (4 min, 30 sec) are unsurprisingly the same, but with German language script, you get four of these. Granada + Points (1 min, 31) has little snippets of interesting info about the show, I especially like the fact that they consumed nineteen gallons of champagne making the show, now that’s a job for me. Disc one wraps with a picture gallery.
Disc two’s extras are in a similar vein with a commentary for The Winged Avenger with Richard Harris, trims for From Venus with Love (1 min, 59 sec) and The See-through Man (2 min, 22 sec), a Clemens intro for The Living Dead (2 min, 07 sec). There is another set of Granada + Points and another stills gallery.
Disc four and we are getting a pattern emerging with more Granada + Points, a commentary for Epic, as well as a Clemens intro for the same story (2 min, 41 sec), another stills gallery and an interview with Diana Rigg (7 min, 56 sec), which is a relatively contemporary interview, as she is more Olenna Tyrell than Miss Peel, but still a good looking woman.
Disc three, filmed Clemens intro to The Superlative Seven (2 min, 04 sec), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Station (3 min, 48 sec) and The Joker (3 min, 12 sec), plus Granada + Points and another stills gallery.
Disc four diverge from the pattern with a full length commentary for Return of the Cybernauts with Cyd Childs, Diana Rigg's stunt double. There is some news reel of Diana Rigg receiving an award (B&W - 2 min, 37 sec), not much of the award is seen, but some funky dancing is on display from Rigg. You get two episode reconstructions for One for the Mortuary (7 min, 51 sec) and Death on the Slipway (6 min, 59 sec) both of which combine stills with a new narration for shows which no longer exist from the earlier part of the show. The disc wraps with a trailer (15 sec) a well a more Granada + Points and stills.
Disc five has reconstruction for Tunnel of Fear (6 min, 44 sec) and Dragonsfield (9 min, 29 sec), two trailers an archival season 5 (1 min, 30 sec) and a German cinema one (1 min 49 sec). The Mini Killers are four shorts about murderous dolls whose only saving grace is that they feature Diana Rigg. Der Goldene Schlussel (6 min, 47 sec) is another short film with Rigg. You get the usual Granada + points and stills.
The last disc has a Clemens intro for Murderville, he also provides the commentary. You get more Granada + Points, stills and The Avengers - A Retrospective (1 hr, 05 sec) which is a meaty look back at the well-loved and innovate how presented by Macnee, original filmed for the video market.
The series was sensible to play to it strengths, Macnee and Rigg have a genuinely flirtatious relationship and you can see why the two became lifelong friends. The bent toward science fiction continued allowing the show to play with some truly bizarre ideas and imagery. Of course it’s going to be a matter of choice. If Series Four was a ten then this is a nine, in part because being filmed in colour occasionally shows the sets to be a little ropey. That said, Series Five generally outsells any of the other series. Still the combination of good quality prints and the extensive extra makes this an essential purchase for any fans.
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