The Avengers - Series 1 & 2 (4 stars)

The Avengers - Series 1 & 2

(PG) 1520min
(Optimum DVD retail)

What joy! Every surviving episode from all six series of the marvelous cult British television show The Avengers, originally broadcast between 1961 and 1969, are to be released on DVD over the course of the next year. But also damn and blast! Only two-and-a-bit episodes of the first series remain in existence. Still, hurrah! The rest are being reissued fully restored for the first time and accompanied by a plethora of extras.

This first set collects series one and two, made between 1961 and 64, and while the show had yet to become the camp spy-fi romp fondly remembered today, its gradual transformation makes for fascinating viewing. Originally conceived as a follow-up to the crime show Police Surgeon, the first series stars Ian Hendry as the titular copper medic who’s assisted by Patrick Macnee’s trench coat-wearing secret agent. By the beginning of series two, Steed has taken charge - and would soon become the quintessential English gent - and he’s joined by Honor Blackman’s black leather-clad, judo-wielding sidekick, Cathy Gale. The science-fiction storylines and eccentric humour would arrive with Diana Rigg’s Emma Peel in the fourth series, but otherwise the template was set. Extras include new Honor Blackman interview, series one guide, Police Surgeon intro, promo material, scripts, commentaries and Easter Egg.

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