IMHO: 27 May 2002
Page 2 of 12

Some people are never satisfied.

And you know who you are.

Here we have a program that, while dear to the hearts of a gaggle of baby boomers and a few odd newbies, is, in the grand scheme of things, barely a footnote in the history of entertainment. Even Doctor Who, little more than an overrated children's show, likely has a bigger fan base. And so it is a wonder how anyone could make a buck selling Avengers episodes.

Back in 1998, in an effort to capitalize on the buzz surrounding the motion picture, A&E in America threw caution to the wind, exercised their North American distribution rights, and made The Avengers their first-ever television series to be released on video.

This decision should not be trivialized. The ratings for their 1991 premiere presentation of the Cathy Gale episodes in the US were less than encouraging, and we all know what happened with the film... so they were counting rather heavily on the quality and latent popularity of the Emma Peel episodes.

Despite the comparatively miniscule market, their gamble paid off, and sales exceeded expectations—no doubt thanks in part to Diana Rigg, the "sexiest actress on television" (according to TV Guide magazine), who was exploited to great effect in their product packaging.

Which brings me to the point of all this: packaging. It is a subject much debated now that Contender have, at long last, begun issuing the series on DVD in the UK (ironically the last major market to see its own series on that medium). Of course, the larger issue surrounding the Contender line is the technical quality of the DVDs themselves, but I'm not about to debate what amounts to a Canal-Minus cluster flock.

No, I want to take on all those perpetually dissatisfied customers who continuously carp about the packaging. Excuse me, but what does the size, shape, color or texture of a piece of cardboard have to do with an Avengers episode?

Nothing, I say. That's Nothing, with a boldface capital N.

As if to completely disregard the cost, effort, and, particularly, the business risk involved in getting those precious programs onto four-point-five-inch metalized polycarbonate discs, these so-called fans will debate ad nauseam such trivialities as whether the spine image will line up.

Pardon me for sounding like some greedy, unenlightened curmudgeon, but all I want is that four-point-five-inch metalized polycarbonate disc, thank you very much. It could come in a brown paper bag, for all I care. It is the whole point of the exercise, the reason I plunk down my cash, even if its manufacturing cost is less than half of that of the box in which it arrives.

With the fate of the rest of the product line (variously in different markets) at stake, people are still busily arguing over "red or yellow," "digipack or box set." Watch out, boys and girls, you might just argue yourselves out of the remaining episodes. My advice? Buy early, buy often, no matter what the package. And be thankful to have some more Avengers to pop in your player.

Please. I am begging you.

And that's my humble opinion.

David K. Smith, 27 May 2002

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