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P. B. Koeb (Aljezur, Portugal)

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Chapeau melon et bottes de cuir : The Avengers, Vol.3 - Coffret 8 DVD
Chapeau melon et bottes de cuir : The Avengers, Vol.3 - Coffret 8 DVD

5.0 out of 5 stars Black and white delight., 30 Sept. 2013
Volume three of Studio Canal's repackaging of "The Avengers". These are the black and white episodes where we discover the peerless Diana Rigg in the unforgettable role of Emma Peel. This represents the beginning, for me, of the series' classic period.

Picture quality looks distinctly unremastered and this is a simple repackaging exercise. The menu allows for French or English, with French subtitles for the original version. Not much in the way of bonus features. Just trailers and picture galleries, but these wonderful, timeless episodes are more than enough.

Chapeau melon et bottes de cuir : The Avengers, Vol.4 - Coffret 8 DVD
Chapeau melon et bottes de cuir : The Avengers, Vol.4 - Coffret 8 DVD

5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond wonderful., 27 Sept. 2013
The fourth volume of Studio Canal's repackaged epsiodes of "The Avengers", as produced for French linguistic regions. The menu allows for the original version, with possibility of French subtitles, or the French dubbed version.

This volume has the legendary colour episodes with Diana Rigg as Emma Peel...... one of the sexiest women EVER to grace a British television set. Simply marvellous, in every way. The definitive opening title sequence, with Laurie Johnson's iconic theme tune, sets the tone. Brilliant stories. One of television's greatest double acts. I found myself in tears, at the end of several episodes. They have a quite simply magical charm to them, taking us way back to the days of merry olde England.

The picture quality is adequate, as opposed to anything resembling remastered. Curiously, the espisode with Clive Dunn wouldn't play in English. The French version was perfectly okay. My product was bought in 2006. Whether that fault still remains is uncertain. Bonus features include the "Follow The Hat" background information, with Patrick Macnee doing a brief introduction to almost all the episodes. Also photo galleries and an interview, from the time, done for a (West) German televsion channel.

Chapeau melon et bottes de cuir : The Avengers, Vol.5 - Coffret 10 DVD
Chapeau melon et bottes de cuir : The Avengers, Vol.5 - Coffret 10 DVD

3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed season.......... flawed product?!, 27 Sept. 2013
I suspect that i'm writing this review for nobody, as purchasers won't especially be targeting a French version of "The Avengers". (Or "Bowler Hat and Boots of Leather" as it was translated.) My rating of three stars is a composite of four stars for the epsiodes and two for the technical aspects, as i shall later explain.

This is the relatively disappointing "post Peel" season. I didn't rush out to buy it, but eventually relented. Previously available in an annoyingly fragmented form, Studio Canal repackaged "The Avengers" in five distinct volumes. (Two Cathy Gale, two Emma Peel and one Tara King.) Here, the menu allows for viewing in French or English, with French subtitles for the original version. Bonus features include a photo gallery, the odd montage clip and "Follow The Hat" background information. (Only the first half, give or take.) The episodes are presented in a very different sequence from their original UK transmission.

Overall, i found this rerun to be a relatively pleasant surprise. It's still good, after all. However, the "post Peel" decline is noticeable. The stories aren't of the same standard, generally speaking. The season is also a little overlong, at thirty-three episodes. (Including volume four's "The Forget-Me-Knot".) Strip it down to a more normal twenty-five episodes, by removing the weaker ones, and the quality would improve. (Some of the Terry Nation scripts are especially poor, i find, although he pens the brilliant "Noon Doomsday" and "Take Over".) That would leave a net twentyish of a good quality and five moderates. And even some great ones in there as well.

And what of poor Linda Thorson? Hers, after all, was a practically impossible job.... replacing the irreplaceable. She looked the part and does reasonably well. But there was always the perception that she never quite cut it. It doesn't appear to have been a happy experience for her either, with hair loss and weight issues. I feel that she simply wasn't mature enough. Then again, young Jennifer Croxton does an excellent one-off replacement as Steed's assistant in the very good "Killer" episode.

Finally, the technical issues. The picture quality has nothing of the remastered about it. The main title sequence plays with a very low volume level, curiously apart from one episode. Some half-dozen epsiodes similarly suffer from a very low volume level. A few episodes simply lack the cast list. I found this utterly extraordinary. Given that i bought this in 2006, and it had remained sealed since then, i am now stuck with it. Whether the problem has since been rectified is an unknown.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 2, 2014 5:29 PM BST

Mission: Impossible - Season 1 [DVD]
Mission: Impossible - Season 1 [DVD]

4.0 out of 5 stars M: I 1. Where's the bloke with white hair?!, 15 Sept. 2013
Yes, this is the "Jimless" season. I had no knowledge of its existence, until a mid noughties rerun on the Television Suisse Romande 2 channel. This is now my first repeat of the dvd package of twenty-eight episodes. How do they stack up? Overall, very well. Stylistically, the series definitely hit the ground running. Tight storytelling, many of the trademark features and some excellent Lalo Schifrin scores.

However, it's Dan Briggs (Steven Hill) who often lets the team down. He isn't bad, as such, but Jim Phelps would be a very definite trading up. The uncharismatic Mr Hill was so devout in observing the shabat, apparently, that he made himself unavailable for filming. This frequently results in him disappearing from the proceedings, on some lame pretext, after taking the mission briefing. (Perhaps he thought he'd done his job.) Marvellous Martin Landau is usually on hand, fortunately, to play the team's "go-to" man. Always hugely effective and enjoyable to watch, he has "Special Appearance" status. Cinnamon is less ice maiden in the early episodes, curiously. Barney and Willy feature in most of the capers.

What of the episodes? "Operation Rogosh" is an early classic, using the type of ruse we'll see repeated in subsequent seasons. "A Spool There Was" is set in a vaguely Balkany type location. "The Carriers" is an excellent cold war paranoia tale, which ends a little cheesily. "Zubrovnik's Ghost" is a bit silly, but extremely atmospheric. Barbara Bain excels in "The Short Tail Spy", with guesting Hans Gudegast. "The Legacy" is a decent Nazi adventure, unlike the rather silly "The Legend". "The Frame" is a good mobster caper. "Snowball In Hell" features a convincingly sadistic Ricardo Montalban. "The Confession" sees Pat Hingle playing a right-wing nutjob in an interesting intrigue. "The Train" seems to be set in a country (Svardia) which uses a language that looks very much like Romansch. (Maybe a legacy of someone's holiday in the Engadine!) "Shock" is very stylish. "A Cube Of Sugar", in which Martin Landau excels, has an interesting psychedelic drug vibe. "The Traitor" features sexy Eartha Kitt guesting very effectively. "The Psychic" has Barry Sullivan doing a good turn as a ruthless nasty. My personal favourite, however, is "Odds On Evil", which is an object lesson in doing a lot with relatively little. The gambling sequences with Nico Minardos, Martin Landau and an oily Nehemiah Persoff are simply outstanding. The zooms and fast edits are reminiscent of something out of a Sam Peckinpah film.

Plenty of good episodes, therefore, but things will get even better when Peter Graves takes the reins in season two. Then, the IMF "dream team" will give us two truly solid seasons. This one? Well, enjoy the storytelling but try to forget that our beloved Jim isn't there.

Man From Uncle: Complete Series [DVD] [2008] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Man From Uncle: Complete Series [DVD] [2008] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my Holy Grail purchases., 8 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
(The other one will be "China Beach" if it ever gets released, to put things in context.) Having catastrophically eschewed acquiring this set, one year ago, for thirty-nine Swiss Francs (equivalent to about twenty-seven quid), i have been tracking it ever since. I reasonably figured there might be a region two version available. Instead, i was utterly, doh, aghast to see there wasn't, what this one cost and that could not ship it outside North America. (A real triple whammy.) A copy finally became available at an affordable price and i didn't hesitate again.

Where to begin? This is simply a tremendous series, right down to Jerry Goldsmith's utterly iconic title theme, the screen dissolves at the end of each act and the gimmicky device which signals the switches between scenes. It dates back to the sixties obsession with the world of espionage and has a little of the seriousness of a "Danger Man", but very much more of the tongue-in-cheek Emma Peel/John Steed spoofiness in "The Avengers". The United Network Command for Law and Enforcement station is located in back of Del Floria's tailor services, for example, as they battle against a shadowy criminal organisation called Thrush. The staff unsurprisingly features numerous luscious ladies, to add to the relatively light mood.

The three lead actors are all quite marvellous and combine to make one of television's classic partnerships. Robert Vaughn is brilliant as the suave, "Bondesque" Napoleon Solo. (One of the great television characters, for me.) David McCallum, of course, plays the Russian Illya Kuryakin. (One of the best-named characters in the history of television.) Leo G. Carroll is the unforgettably laconic Mr Waverly, the station head. For those of us who are old enough to remember, this was one of the indisputably GREAT sixties series. Choc-full of gadgets, the famous gun with its shoulder-rest attachment and Channel D for communications, amongst others. (I can recall some excellent merchandising from the time.)

The 105 episodes, spread over four seasons, provide many hours of nostalgic enjoyment. (And that doesn't include all the additional bonus features.) The guest star and not-yet-known watch is quite utterly extraordinary. (Too many to mention.) Those aspects are simply priceless for any serious sixties television afficionado. Season one is a glorious black and white production with, for me, the best version of the theme tune. Season two is similarly wondrous, switching to colour and a groovier arrangement of the title theme. Season three somehow seemed, perhaps, a little patchier. The shorter season four sees a move to a straighter espionage style.

The "downside", as it were, comes with the packaging. Whilst the UNCLE suitcase is a super feature, beware of how it arrives at its destination. Mine suffered a little, because the packing was too tight. (The card box was squashed and a little frayed in one corner.) The disc trays were, and still are, all unglued from the cases. The disc retainers also a bit damaged. The card housing for two bonus discs similarly a bit crushed. I shan't deduct a star, because that was more of a marketplace vendor issue. However, suitable packing is VITAL if it is to arrive in good condition. (All the more so, given what some of the copies are priced at!) This is something to buy and to treasure. To pass down to future generations or something with which to be buried. Unimpeachably wonderful.

30 Rock Season 5 [DVD]
30 Rock Season 5 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tina Fey
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £4.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Patchy run-in lets the season down., 13 Mar. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: 30 Rock Season 5 [DVD] (DVD)
I wouldn't normally add to all the reviews already on offer, but the season's conclusion left me just a little perplexed. I wound up for it by doing a re-run of the uniformly brilliant first four seasons, which may have been a mistake. Whilst things started off extremely well, this time around, it was the last quarter or so where the quality became patchier. My final conclusion? That it was a good thing i got this one at a truly bargain basement flash promotional price.

However, this season still contains many more moments of brilliance. Hence the four stars. The fabulous, side-splitting "Live Show" episode alone probably makes this worth the admission price, to be honest, as Liz Lemon continues to deal with the numerous TGS nutjobs. Purchasers will notice that certain members of the support cast become margianalised, to the show's detriment. (I especially missed the deliciously catty interplay with the lovely Cerie, who hardly features.) Issues of pregnancy and Tracy Morgan's illness, as stated elsewhere, seem to be at the root of the season's somewhat rudderless conclusion. Almost as though the producers were desperate to get the season wrapped, using some rather contrived plotlines.

Still worthy of purchase, as there are simply too many good things, but purchasers may wish to hold their fire until the price is really right. Meanwhile, i'm hoping that the next season will get us back on course. This is such a funny series, after all, with no need for a laughter track. Brilliantly written and acted, but season five isn't perhaps quite up to the standard of what came before. Even so, an iffy season of "30 Rock" still leaves most of the competition trailing in its wake.

PS. A repeat viewing of the final six episodes was infinitely more satisfying. Whilst this season definitely wobbles, when Tracy disappears to "Africa", it remains very solid.

Battle For The Planet Of The Apes [DVD]
Battle For The Planet Of The Apes [DVD]
Dvd ~ Roddy McDowall
Offered by Assai-uk
Price: £1.80

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Scraping the barrel., 3 Mar. 2013
And so we get to the final chapter of the original "POTA" series. This one starts off reasonably well, actually, but simply falls apart in the final half-hour. Hence the one star. The running time is a short eighty-three minutes, including an aped-out John Huston (The Lawgiver) doing a prologue and epilogue. We also get a brief recap from the preceding two films. Visually, this is fairly close to the tv series which would subsequently be made. Very low-budget in feel, as other reviewers have said.

The events appear to be set quite soon after "Conquest....", around the year 2000, in a post-apocalyptic USA. A foray is made to a nearby forbidden city, so as to view archive material of Caesar's parents being interviewed. Feeling threatened, the underground group of surviving human mutants decides to make a pre-emptive attack on a nearby mixed settlement of apes and humans. Gorillas are attempting a bit of a power struggle, meanwhile, so as to have more control. The mutants advance in a "convoy" of battered cars, military vehicles and a school bus, so as to have a climactic "battle". This merely involves an extended shoot-out between two small groups, and thoroughly lacks any sense of realism or danger.

J. Lee Thompson is back to direct with his bludgeoning style of wanting to put lots of guns and explosions on the screen. The script has some fairly cringey moments and the cast has a very low-budget appearance. TV regulars, again, rather than screen stars. Roddy McDowall returns as Caesar. Natalie Trundy manages a fourth appearance. Severn Darden returns from "Conquest..." as Kolp, the new governor. Leonard Rosenman is back for film score duties and actually does an okay job, for the most part. However, the overall production is terribly ordinary. Best avoided, therefore, or bought as part of the box set. This franchise should probably have ended with the Earth being blown up in "BTPOTA", quite honestly.

Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes [DVD]
Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes [DVD]
Dvd ~ Roddy McDowall
Offered by Qoolist
Price: £2.47

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Cheer up, the worst may be yet to come., 2 Mar. 2013
Oh dear, where to begin? It had been many years since i'd seen this, the fourth instalment of the "POTA" franchise. If the third film was dodgy enough, i find that this is verging on the dire. Direction comes from J. Lee Thompson....... not an especially good sign, as this was a film maker who sometimes had the sensitivity of a jack-hammer. This film dates from his Hollywood "shock and awe" period as a film-maker, when he was a declining artistic force.

We've moved forward some twenty years from the setting of this film's "Escape From...." predecessor. Planet Earth 1991, or the USA, has become a sort of tyrannical, fascist regime. Jackbooted riot police are brought in to quell demonstrations.
Cornelius and Zira's offspring has grown up, under circus owner Armando's (Ricardo Montalban) protection. A mystery virus from outer space has wiped out the planet's population of cats and dogs. Apes then became domestic pets and were also trained to perform menial tasks. The apes eventually rebel against the brutal human tyrrany, resulting in a "shocking climax". (To quote, i think, the theatrical trailer.)

Once again, however, the budget seems to be limited. The storyline is weak and character development largely forgotten. The cast tend to be regulars on the small, as opposed to the big screen. The producer's wife, Natalie Trundy, is back for a third film. (Wearing an ape mask, this time around.) Don Murray plays the role of the tyrant Governor Breck, years before relocating to "Knot's Landing". Roddy McDowall is playing the part of his own son. Some of the sets have been reworked from the second film ("Beneath..."). The music is scored by Tom Scott, who even contrives to make me regret Leonard Rosenman's work on the second film. (Let alone Jerry Goldsmith's brilliant music for the first film.)

The running time is a skimpy eighty-three minutes, including some redundant repetition and the extended "shoot 'em up" denouement. A couple of hundred apes overcome a hundred or so police and the dictators have been ousted. Roddy McDowall then delivers a rousing, valedictory mission statement before this train-wreck of a film comes to a welcome end. It gives me no pleasure to slate this so mercilessly, but i felt absolutely obliged to give a different rating from the other reviewers. Avoid. Or buy on the very, very cheap. The same J L Tee would return to helm the final chapter, which is set to be tomorrow evening's "entertainment". (Nearly forty years since i last saw it.) I'm fearing the worst......
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 11, 2014 11:08 AM GMT

Buck Rogers In The 25th Century: The Complete Second Series [DVD]
Buck Rogers In The 25th Century: The Complete Second Series [DVD]
Dvd ~ Gil Gerard
Price: £5.80

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rather a load of Shgoratchx!, 17 Feb. 2013
Whilst it hardly seems necessary to add further to the discussion, i mainly wanted to concur with Bill Shakespeare's and I.R. Kerr's reviews. The second season was such a disappointment, after the cheesy hokum of season one. Here, we're just left with the cheese. A sort of "Lost In Space" meets "Star Trek".

Season one, whilst hardly "classic", certainly managed to be very enjoyable. Sexy Pamela Hensley was absolutely great in her role of "wicked" Princess Ardala and always extremely watchable. She has sadly gone, never to return. Instead, we are served up with the new characters of Hawk (a Spock alter ego, kind of), Dr Goodfellow (hammy, bumbling Wilfrid Hyde-White), General/Commander/Admiral Asimov (trying to be vaguely comic) and Crichton (a silly, pompous robot addition). Twiki is voiced differently, until Mel Blanc mysteriously returns for the second half of the season. Lovely Erin Gray is much less in evidence, which is another awful shame. She is kitted out, for the most part, in a very short white dress with "bootettes". The jump suits of season one have mostly gone, and she is so very much more peripheral.

The stories just do not cut it, furthermore, in this season. Whilst season one had some quite good ones, like the murderous android of "Unchained Woman" or the creepy space vampires, season two falls very flat. The whole Searcher theme of seeking out Earth's lost tribes left me rather bored. The advice, unquestionably, is to stick with season one. It is hardly worth wasting one's time and money on this load of "shgoratchx".

Chuck  - Season 1-5 Complete [DVD] [2012]
Chuck - Season 1-5 Complete [DVD] [2012]
Dvd ~ Zachary Levi
Price: £39.99

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chuck versus the Ally McBeal Complete Collection., 18 Jan. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Yep..... this was my Christmas 2012 "blow-out" purchase, after briefly considering an "Ally McBeal" re-run from a well-knowh High street Merchandise Vendor. I was concerned that i might have found the latter a bit too cloying. "Chuck", on the other hand, was something i knew only very vaguely. On the basis of two subtitled late-evening season four episodes on the local Portuguese RTP2 channel, i decided to take the plunge. Being the "complete" series definitely swung it, given that each season came in at a touch under a bargain eight gold coins.

Is it worth the investment? Heck, yes. "Chuck" plays like a zany, modern riff on "The Man From U.N.C.L.E."..... okay, the dynamic is different..... or "The Avengers". It is a truly winsome series, of forty minute epiosdes which race by, packed with adventure, action, comedy and a moving, heartwarming love story. The whole Buy More storyline is quite priceless. The main cast are, without exception, simply delightful. Appealing female guest stars abound. I doubt that female viewers will feel too disappointed, either.

Zachary Levi excels, in the title role. Likewise Adam Baldwin, as the gruff, grouchy NSA operative John Casey. Watch out, however, for Yvonne Strahovski. She's the one who really caught my eye, in the episodes i saw. Hers is an utterly magical, magnetic turn as Sarah Walker, the wholesomely sexy super spy, which is beautifully understated. (A sort of Emma Peel for the noughties.) Hard as nails, but desperately vulnerable on the inside. I kid you not....... when she's on-screen, it's practically impossible to take your eyes off her. (I think i'd already fallen in love by the middle of the first season.) Just check the music video "clipesque" apparition at the start of the season two "Chuck vs The Seduction" episode, for example. This will surely remain one of my all-time top ten television moments.

As such, this five season box set of ninety-one episodes (plus all kinds of bonuses) has already become a treasured dvd acquisition. Something to return to, every so often, for a bit of escapist, feel-good television. Glad i bought this, rather than "Ally McBeal"? Too right.

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