The Avengers: The Complete Series Four review

Forget Captain America and Thor, when it comes to Avengers, Steed and Peel are the real deal...

Following three years of reality-based adventures in espionage, popular British spy series The Avengers underwent a dramatic change in 1965. Thanks to an injection of cash from US broadcaster ABC, the show made the jump to film – and in the process set about transforming itself into a comic book romp that fully embraced British eccentricity.

However, the most important change of all was the arrival of Steed (Patrick Macnee)'s latest partner, Emma Peel (Diana Rigg). While the show had never shied away from strong female characters in the past, Rigg's portrayal of Mrs. Peel was smart, self-assured and sexy in a way that hadn't been seen on TV before. And her interplay with Steed ensures that even the dullest episode (of which there are very few in this collection) still sparkles with wit and joie de vivre.

Picture: As the first series of the show to be shot on 35mm film rather than video, this fourth series of The Avengers makes a strong impression on Blu-ray.

While there are imperfections to be found (from small scratches and flecks of dirt to drops in clarity that would appear to indicate the use of alternate surviving source material for specific shots), the overall quality of the 26 black-and-white 1.37:1 1080p encodes is pretty outstanding. Contrast is stable, black levels are consistent and detailing is high, showing every skin texture and costume stitch.

All told, it's hard to imagine the show looking much better than it does here – great news for fans looking to get reacquainted with Mrs. Peel in her scandalous 'Queen of Sin' outfit...
Picture rating: 4.5/5

Audio: StudioCanal presents all the episodes with LPCM dual-mono audio on this Blu-ray release. The dynamic range in the original recordings is fairly narrow compared to what we've come to expect from today's gogglebox entertainment, but it never has a detrimental effect on the show's dialogue or music.
Audio rating: 3/5

Extras: There are no new bonus goodies here, but the surfeit of pre-existing DVD extras means that there's still plenty to check out.

Highlights include five episode commentaries featuring series devotee Jaz Wiseman and various members of the show's crew; an interview with actress Elizabeth Shepherd (the original Emma Peel); test footage from a 1980 attempt to 'colourise' the black-and-white episodes; reconstructions of two lost Series One episodes (Kill the King and Dead of Winter); the fantastic promo short The Case of the Missing Corpse; and even the full episode of Armchair Theatre (The Hothouse) that led to Rigg being targeted by The Avengers' producers.
Extras rating: 4/5

We say: An impressive (if pricey) Blu-ray debut for the cult TV series. Roll on Series Five!

The Avengers: The Complete Series Four, StudioCanal, Region B BD, £75 Approx