As they are at pains to point out at the end of one episode, their adventures often start with the mysterious death of an agent, and their involvement usually means at least one more death along the way--one of them gets tied up and the other has to engage in some perfunctory martial arts to save them. Yet none of this is important--it is the charm that matters, and the fact that the show was so aware of its own clichés is part of that charm. Another factor was the parade of British character actors in minor roles. Here Peter Cushing is a silkily vengeful villain, John Laurie a railway enthusiast and, in a body-switching episode, Freddie Jones and Patricia Haines are Steed and Emma themselves.
The plots involve killer robots, engineered premonition in nightmares and hypnotic regression to childhood; the touches of surreal are part of The Avengers style blended with 60s fashions and loopy plots to create something effectively original and hugely influential.
On the DVD: the DVDs are presented in a standard 4:3 television visual aspect with good mono sound for their date. As with other releases in this series, the special features consist of short biographies, a picture gallery and a "Follow the Hat" feature (modelled on the "White Rabbit" from The Matrix) in which Patrick McNee introduces each episode and interesting facts about cast and designers are flashed onto the screen.--Roz Kaveney