Network DVD

Weighing in with a whopping thirteen-discs Network has issued the celebrated second season of the Patrick McGoohan starring series with a set of crisp and clear transfers. With all of the forty-seven fifty-minute episodes included on this release space/budget for extras was possibly at a premium so don't expect oodles of commentaries or documentaries, but each disc does include a high quality image gallery of stills from episodes featured on each disc.

With some solid scripts and the charismatic brooding of McGoohan this seminal series that helped open the floodgates to a thousand inferior spy thriller programmes is always compelling viewing.

Hidden away on each disc is an archive of pdfs of original script with a hugely impressive total forty-two scripts assembled from various sources. Taken together this a fabulous and fascinating collection and possibly the most I've seen for an archive TV release.

There are also image galleries for items of merchandising including books and a rare set chewing gum cards (also featured as a pdf on the disc for easier study), a collection of alternate title sequences and elements including commercial break bumpers, opening rushes and a suite of title music cues. A nice unexpected collection tucked away on the final disc is completed by pdfs of both Danger Man annuals from the mid-sixties.

The cream of the extras is the paperback book detailing the history and production of the series entitled The Battle of the Cameras. Penned by the ever-reliable Andrew Pixley the book is fantastically detailed and the definitive study of the programme. Pixley examines every aspect of the production in the first half of the book before embarking on an episode-by-episode dissection of the series that details every minute titbit of trivia. One negative aspect is that the book lacks an index or contents page, but a minor quibble.

This could be a stand alone book in itself and together with the excellent transfers makes the set well worth purchasing, though I don't think it will help expand the fan base of the series and will appeal to established fans only. The set bodes well for the Network's promised release of The Prisoner, especially if Mr Pixley will be on hand to excavate the history of the series in some form.

FILM: 4/5