Behind the Scenes: Tara King Era, Part 2
This era of the series played very differently between the US and UK markets. Americans were not only the first to see Tara King, they also saw two completely different titles. The initial seven episodes featured the "shooting gallery" opening and closing sequence (in homage to Diana Rigg, "The Forget-Me-Knot" received modified Emma Peel color opening titles and Tara King shooting gallery closing titles), and the 26 episodes that followed had the all-new "fields of armor" opening and "card trick" closing titles. READ MORE
The British chose to wait until all 33 Tara King episodes were completed before airing them; they also replaced the shooting gallery titles with the suits of armor version (with the apparent exception of "Split!" for reasons unknown). To make matters rather confusing for UK viewers, the order of the episodes was jumbled, and since Tara was subtly re-tooled between the two production sets, she suffered inexplicable character changes during the course of the season.
Further evidence of the production turmoil abounds as stylistic direction changed like the wind. The return to realism mandated by the studio at the outset clashed with the more whimsical approach Brian Clemens seemed to prefer, and so episodes often swung wildly from serious to silly—the latter personified by Patrick Newell's character, Mother, and his goofy-headquarters-of-the-week running gag.
Despite having to deal with any number of dire circumstances, Clemens and Fennell made a valiant effort, and although they varied considerably in quality, the shows were generally enjoyable. But the deck was stacked against them, and it was hardly Tara's fault. In the US, the The Avengers was faced with the unbeatable competition of Laugh-In. Rather than jeopardize one of their own costlier in-house shows, ABC chose to "sacrifice" a cheaper import.
With no further orders forthcoming from the US, it all came to an abrupt end in February 1969. The irony is that, had it not been for the US, there might never have been a color Emma Peel season, because the UK never ordered any episodes after the Emma Peel monochromes! And so the country that kept it alive, the US, also killed it, while the country that gave birth to it, the UK, orphaned it.
Many attempts were made to revive the corpse...
November 1971 saw the debut of a short-lived stage play. There was also a radio series produced for the South African Broadcasting Company in 1972. Then The New Avengers made its abbreviated run in 1976. But that wasn't the end of the story, either, as a series of bizarre, convoluted events took place—as if things up to this point weren't knotty enough...
For help in understanding the progression of the show's history, the Avengers Timeline puts it in graphic perspective.
materials copyrighted per their respective copyright holders.