DVDs: Part 3

Gift guide

DVDs: Part 3

The Avengers: The Complete Emma Peel Megaset

A&E Entertainment, $199.99

Sixteen digitally remastered discs, 51 episodes, and just under 50 hours of the luscious Dame Diana Rigg as haute couture über-babe Emma Peel, judo-chopping her way through Christopher Lee, the living dead, and plenty of poncey Eastern Bloc baddies. (Look! It's Donald Sutherland!) It's a delirious fanboy's wettest of dreams, all mod cons and rogues galore. Out of the Cool Britannia loop? Not sure where Carnaby Street is, much less Coronation? The Avengers enjoyed tremendous success on the BBC before making the leap across the pond to the former colonies in the mid-Sixties and becoming firmly entrenched in the annals. Patrick Macnee as the unflappable, bowler-hat 'n' bumbershoot-wielding John Steed and trusty gal Friday/Saturday/Sunday Peel zip around half-abandoned sets in spiffy vintage MGs, trading the driest of British barbs, and generally making you wish you'd been able to catch this edgy, often surreal show during its initial run. The secret to The Avengers' skewed atmospherics, we've finally realized, is the show's almost complete lack of background actors, which lends the cloak-and-dagger proceedings a genuinely Kafkaesque edge that rivals Patrick MacGoohan's The Prisoner for sheer strangeness. Both in black and white and gorgeous, ultramod color (or is that colour?), but with few bonus extras (not counting some production stills), this is the ne plus ultra of Britcool. "Mrs. Peel? You're needed!"

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