Sigh. I know I'm supposed to like this episode because Tara has been temporarily shuffled off the scene and replaced by an Emma Peel wannabe. For that reason alone (judging from other viewers' reactions), I should rank "Killer" in my Avengers Top 10.
Problem is, this isn't a very good episode. The plot is thin, the behavior of the doomed agents is inexplicable, and a genuine Tara is better than a fake Emma any day.
Those are my generic quibbles; now for a few specific gripes:
Now a few thoughts on Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST) and a plea for us to get over Emma. If you're an MST fan (and I suspect a considerable number of Avengers admirers also enjoy the offbeat humor of MST), then you know much energy and internet bandwidth have been used up debating the merits of the two human hosts of the show—Joel Hodgson and Mike Nelson. The more rabid supporters of Joel (Host #1) continue to wring their hands and lament that all joy and beauty left the world when Joel escaped the Satellite of Love and exited the program. To hear hardcore Joelites tell it, Host #2 (Mike) is an evil interloper responsible for more woe on the planet than original sin.
It just isn't so, folks. Joel created a wonderful role as the lone human stranded in space with wisecracking robots, but he wasn't irreplaceable. (Is anyone?) When Mike stepped into the lead, he wasn't there to serve as a Joel clone. Instead, his job was to bring his own abilities and personality to the part and keep MST rolling along. Personally, I think some of the best MST episodes come from the Mike era, and I'm grateful to him for keeping the show alive for several seasons after Joel left.
Likewise, Avengers fans sometimes get overwrought in lamenting the loss of Mrs. Peel, while simultaneously loathing Tara for daring to replace her. Tara King isn't Emma Peel, who in turn wasn't Cathy Gale. They're three different women, each with her own strengths and weaknesses as Steed's partner. Mrs. Peel was an extraordinary character, but the planets didn't plunge out of orbit when the real-life Diana Rigg left The Avengers. Like most good fans, I got a lump in my throat when Emma kissed Steed goodbye and returned to her husband. But I'm also thankful that one of my favorite shows kept rolling right along. I'm thankful, too, that the young, exuberant (and occasionally daffy) Tara King was there to take Emma's place. Not to clone Emma, but to bring her (Tara's) own qualities to the show.
Relax, fellow fans. It's OK to like all three female leads in The Avengers. Let's enjoy each woman for her own particular strengths and celebrate all the pleasure the show continues to bring us—including the episodes produced after the departure of the appealing Mrs. Peel.
Back to "Killer": 1.75 out of 5.0 bowlers for a they-shouldn't-have-let-Tara-go-on-vacation disappointment.
All and all an enjoyable hour, somewhat dry but nevertheless not without humor. The wit of the plot was most charming and the pace effective. Music also made a comeback in this episode.
The Emma-isms were some of the best sight gags... the folded arms, the brushing back of the hair, and the stance were all eye-catching, not to mention the sharp fighting skills. I also enjoyed the agent repelling into the meeting area, Mother's cigar burning the remains of the burnt papers, and Paxton's death grip on that sword.
Best line: Steed to Forbes, "How'd you get in?" Reply "Trainee manual section 3, paragraph 4, always come in through the skylight."
Tara was a refreshing sight to see in the tag.
The year was 1978 and the world's greatest rock and roll band, The Who, were finished. What else could they do now that their drummer Keith Moon was dead? After all, you just don't carry on. The Who were four equal parts. The Who were a band. But in a surprise move, they did just that. They decided they were too young to break up the band and retire to their mansions. No, they had to carry on. For Keith's sake. And that whole "they-like-to-get-paid-money-thing" they had going. And so they recruited The Small Faces' drummer Kenny Jones to replace (replace?) Keith.
As history showed us, The New Who recorded two very lousy albums, in the days when bands recorded albums (as opposed to CDs), then finally called it a day in 1982. The Who: The End. (Numerous greatest-hits-tours were still to come.)
And why were the last two albums so damn lousy? Was it the fault of Pete Townshend who wrote lousy songs? According to many, it was Kenny Jones' fault. He was the problem. Kenny Jones killed The Who.
But of course, it was Pete's fault. The songs were tired, empty and joyless. Anti-Kenny Jones fans failed to mention that the previous Who album with Keith behind the skins wasn't that great either. Keith's fault? Nah, at the time the blame went to Pete.
And so, my friends, this brings me to Emma and Tara. Admit it, there are some very weak Emma color episodes. Some verrrrry weak Emma color episodes. And the only reason you watch them, the only reason you like them — or pretend to — is because of Emma. Heck, that's not a bad thing.
But please, please don't blame dearest Tara for the problems of the '68 season. Like poor old Kenny Jones, Tara wasn't a creative element. She was simply a hired hand. She didn't write the blasted lousy episodes. And she didn't create the weak Mother plot device. She just acted. And did her best with the material she was given.
Honestly, I can barely watch the '68 season. And no, it's not because I mourn the loss of Emma or cringe at the sight of Tara. It's because the show was tired, empty and joyless.
Where is the spark? Where is the sexual tension? The pat on the butt. The smiles. The wink. The classic screwball comedy banter. Where is the fun and sense of adventure? If this episode had been two hours long rather than one, do you know what they would have done with the additional hour?
They would have padded it out by simply killing more agents. Six instead of three. This entire episode was completely devoid of plot twists.
Unless you consider Steed getting a rent-a-partner a plot twist.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but this reminds me some of "Look - (stop me if you've heard..." in that there's this long trail of murders. Except of course, they were cleverly done. And each differently. But with "Killer," it's really the same type of murder over and over and over and over and...
After forty-something minutes of this I figured at least the payoff would, ah, pay off. And while the concept of the typewriter was clever, it didn't redeem the episode in my eyes. Remember when Emma was trapped in "The House That Jack Built"? Now, there you felt the tension. The danger seemed real. Evil. But REMAC just seemed silly.
"Killer" is tiresome. But more than that, it's proof that Tara wasn't to blame for this mess. It was the fault of the creators and writers who made very bad decisions. (The least of which was casting.) Watching The Avengers '68 is like watching a whole different show. A show that I don't like.
I'm with Joe on this one. It's witless. With or without Tara, the thing lacks spark. It's as if Clemens and crew had forgotten what it was that they did right only a couple of years before. This one is all about plot: the b/w Mrs Peel eps are all about Steed/Emma's integration into that plot. They're in practically every scene. But here, it's dim agent after dim agent, the familiar it's-a-computer-killer, whoops-here-comes-the-60s-technology-paranoia plot, in which Steed takes little or no part. Forbes isn't actually given anything to say for her first 10 minutes, and when finally she comes out with the line about the skylight, you've lost interest (and yes, thanks Mr Williamson for the 'tingly-wong' oriental jibe: a different era, thank god). I hadn't watched a Tara King episode for some time (3 or 4 years!) and they don't improve with unfamiliarity. The tag with the inflatable dinghy is so woeful I found myself looking away. Yikes.
I'm saving up "Look - (stop me..." for a special occasion. Now there's The Avengers.
Interesting that I picked on
"Killer" to watch because:
I did this before and watched "Murdersville," thinking I should revisit this story which I'd watched only the once years before and fallen asleep whilst so doing. "Murdersville" is worse than "Killer." Without a doubt. Only worth watching for Mrs Peel's magic changing outfit (depending on whether she's in her car or out of it).
So, my question is, do US Avenger fans look for something different in their favourite eps than we do over here in the original Avengerland (I'm in Bath, UK)? "Too Many Christmas Trees" is a nice episode, but it's not a patch on other wonderful episodes in that season ("Quick-Quick Slow Death," "The Girl from Auntie," "The Gravediggers," the list is long and lovely). Any thoughts out there?
OK, formalities first. Is this a good episode? Yes it is, very good, pacily written, beautifully directed from a newcomer to the show who immediately understands what The Avengers is all about, and nicely designed. Terrific entertainment.
And then there's Lady Diana, otherwise known as Jennifer Croxton. Now, some kind words are said about her on this site—mostly from people who never seemed to have got over the loss of Diana Rigg. What did I think of her? Well, I thought she was awful. Certainly, she looks the part but she has a major problem: she can't act. In fact, her performance in this is made of the thickest and purest timber. She is not, in other words, fit to be spoken of in the same sentence as Emma Peel. So, to all those of you who continue to mourn Emma and are prepared to accept this third rate substitute: get over it. Emma left in "The Forget-Me-Knot" and she's not coming back. She was replaced by the delightful Linda Thorson and it's a real pleasure to welcome her back from her holiday at the end of this episode. Three cheers for Tara King!
It's not often that I violently disagree with David about an episode, but this is one where I do. The main reason David ranks this episode so highly is because of Lady Diana Forbes-Blakeney, played by Jennifer Croxton. She certainly does have the willowy good looks to be an Emma Peel substitute and she fights well too. The trouble is that Ms Croxton's acting is woodener than a hockey stick. I prefer Tara to this. Are Croxton's fans too blinded by her devastating attractiveness to notice that she couldn't act? I'm also with the majority about the plot. Apart from one twist in the middle, this one was utterly predictable.
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