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A Sharp Steed and Pristine Peel in Crisp '67 'Avengers' DVD

May 13, 1999|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

DVDs have finally ventured into the lucrative TV arena in search of more products to put on the market. A&E's first foray into DVDs is "The Avengers '67, Sets 1 and 2" ($25 per disc; $45 for two-disc boxed set). These are the same episodes from the British spy series' first American season that A&E released to great success on video last year.

The DVDs are wonderfully vibrant; colors are crisp and the sound is sharp and clear. The episodes look like they were filmed yesterday, not three decades ago. The videos included two episodes per tape, but each DVD features three installments of the series, which starred Diana Rigg as Emma Peel and Patrick Macnee as John Steed.

Episodes featured in the collection include "From Venus With Love," "The Winged Avengers" and "Never, Never Say Die." Each disc also includes "The Original Avengers Production Stills Gallery"--a collection of rare production shots from the episodes. Later this year, A&E plans to release two more sets of DVDs from the '67 season, including the popular "Return of the Cybernauts" and "The Forget Me Knot," which was Rigg's last episode. To order, call (800) 423-1212.

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Audrey Hepburn fans will delight in Goldhil's Digital Collector's Edition of her beautiful PBS series, "Gardens of the World" ($40). This eight-part program, for which Hepburn was awarded an Emmy for her hosting duties, also marked her final screen appearance before her death six years ago of cancer. Michael York is also on hand as the narrator of the documentary, which explores rose gardens, formal gardens, flower gardens and country gardens in Europe.

The DVD also includes a wonderful behind-the-scenes feature on Hepburn filming one of the episodes. She comes across as a real-life "My Fair Lady"--friendly, funny, serene and down to earth. Other highlights include an interactive full-motion menu, a separate symphonic track highlighting the music of Copland, Debussy and Resphighi, scene access, a list of gardens and Web sites and scenes from Penelope Hobhouse's "The Art & Practice of Gardening." To order, call (800) 250-8760.

If you enjoy vintage TV variety shows, check out Image Entertainment's six volumes of Milton Berle's classic series "The Buick-Berle Show" ($25 each), which aired on NBC 1953-55. The series consisted of a show-within-a-show format, with Berle playing himself, the star of a TV variety show; Ruth Gilbert as his silly secretary; and Arnold Stang as the sarcastic stagehand. The show also boasted lots of slapstick comedy, singing and dancing and a vast array of guest stars. Volume 3. for example, features such celebs as Mickey Spillane, Basil Rathbone, Carol Channing and Peter Lawford. Herbert Ross, who later directed such movies as "The Turning Point" and "The Goodbye Girl," staged all the dances and Selma Diamond of "Night Court" fame was one of the show's writers.

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