A new bonus disc makes A&E’s latest box set devoted to the 1960s kinky spy classic invaluable. Extras cover everything from the skein’s first karate-chopping female sidekick to promo skits and an episode from “The New Avengers.”
Diana Rigg’s Emma Peel and Patrick Macnee’s John Steed epitomized ’60s cool, battling enemy agents on behalf of the Empire with both kung-fu moves and witty repartee. Blackman’s Cathy Gale preceded Peel, but her seasons were shown only the U.K., as outlined in one of the docus.
Emma Peel makes no appearance in what is the genuine find of the bonus disc: three broadcasts from the grittier, less tongue-in-cheek first season, starring Macnee and Ian Hendry (there were no female partners at the beginning). Actually, only two of these episodes are complete; part of the third and all of the others from the first season were erased (a common practice then with live television).
Thankfully, the Emma Peel adventures were shot on film, not tape, which gave them a rich cinematic quality and made them easier to save and preserve, as the latest distributors have done quite brilliantly.