It's so depressing to see the splendid Emma Peel getting replaced by the pathetic Tara King. Steed looks miserable, and Diana Rigg looks like she's forgotten how to play Mrs. Peel. Did we ever see Mrs. Peel whisper in previous episodes? It seems out of character when she does it here.
And what's this nonsense about how Steed likes to have his tea stirred? Steed doesn't drink tea, he drinks brandy. And if he did drink tea, he'd be worrying about Mrs. Peel's preferences, not vice versa. Wasn't that the whole gender-bending point?
Usually I watch an episode at least twice before I write a review, but I'm not subjecting myself to this one again. Yuk! Ptooey! That is all.
This episode has received a lot of bad press from Avengers fans mainly because it's the last Emma Peel episode, a significant point in the show's history—where either you think it took a nose dive for the worst or it became excellent. This episode has plagued me several times; when it was repeat by channel 4 in the mid nineties there was a massive power cut in my area, so I missed the second half
The first notable thing about this episode is that there are minor variations to the title sequence which gives hints a change for the show.
The teaser sequence for me is one of the best of the show, opening directly into a fight—how many episodes do that—and it is rather unusual in that no one dies either in the teaser or in the rest of the episode, for that matter.
The opening scene is quite atmospheric with its old cellar and dim light. The subsequent scene with Sean Mortimer losing his memory is made exceptionally eerie with Laurie Johnson's excellent score. But what does the knotted hanky actually signify? I assume it's a ministry code which Mortimer has half-remembered but can't quite recall what it is for. The eeriness of the memory-less Mortimer is carried quite well into the rest of introductory sequences, with Steed helpless against a bigger menace than the usual mastermind.
However, it begins a downhill slide from here on with the introduction of Tara and Mother. Tara's introduction isn't that good, with an evidently youthful student making several mistakes such as attacking Steed and getting noticed while watching him. Wouldn't it have been better to have Steed find Mrs Peel without her memory, then contacting Mother to get an assistant? Or is that just a flight of fancy? Mother does get a good introduction, with subtle nods to Psycho, as the wheelchair turns round.
Fights-wise this is a good episode as there are about five of them. Unlike most Tara episodes, however, there no outlandish visuals. Performance-wise Linda Thorson, who is usually showered by my praises, gets it hideously wrong; perhaps they should have filmed this last in the season so she could get to grips with her character better, as her character had been changed from a finishing school girl to a trainee spy quite late on, I understand. Jeremy Young does a good turn as Burton, as does Jeremy Burnham as Simon.
Much more could have been made of the memory-less Steed than was, I feel. If he is on the full-strength drug, how come he gets his memories back quicker then Sean and Mrs Peel, who are on half-strength? The best memory-less Steed scene is where he enters his flat. Again, with the drugged Tara, how come she gets her memory back so quickly compared to the others? Isn't odd from this point on Tara shows us her most common costume is a dressing gown? For all the faults, though, the Tag scene is quite touching, with us feeling real sympathy for Steed.
With a major re-write this has all the makings of the sort of farewell Mrs Peel deserves.
Two out of five bowlers.
Watching "The Forget-Me-Knot" is a depressing affair. It marks the end of a glorious era and the beginning of one no where near its equal. The whole tenor of the show changed with the introduction of Tara King, the bumbling, younger agent, a sort of latter-day Maxwell Smart; and the introduction of the Organization and its leader Mother. Where subtlety and sophistication once reigned, broad humor and slapstick took over. If The Avengers had been born in the late 60s—a child of Swinging London—and had been nothing but the Tara King Era, it would probably have been regarded as an amusing, harmless trifle that provided some moments of good entertainment. And it would have lasted maybe two seasons, max, like the campy Batman in the US.
But Avengers was born seven years earlier, in a grittier time, and it adapted only the trappings of the changing fashions that suited it, thus remaining true to itself. Therefore, upon the shoulders of the Tara King Era is the considerable weight of everything that came before it, from Dankworth and kinky boots to Peelers and "You're Needed." And let's face it, the Tara King Era simply doesn't come close to living up to these standards. This is why, for me, it fails.
"Knot" is the beginning of this failing standard. First off, I do not like amnesia episodes. The amnesia, as David rightly points out, always manages to occur right at a critical time to prevent the protagonist from solving the mystery. It's a hackneyed plot device. If this had been a regular Steed and Emma episode, then one of them would have escaped the drug to aid the other. But, ah, enter Tara. Though she, too, was drugged, in this rather convoluted plot, she manages to recover enough to help save the day. Obviously the writers wanted to convince us that, although inexperienced, Tara possessed the right stuff to be a crack agent. I remain unconvinced. Tara simply isn't a strong enough character to make this believable.
Mother is annoying. I like Patrick Newell, and he played those sort of barking commander roles well (witness him as Colonel Faraday in Doctor Who's "The Android Invasion"). Perhaps the American TV execs who insisted on Mother staying wanted to create a counterpart to the Chief on Get Smart. It worked on Get Smart because Don Adams needed a straight man to bounce off. But Avengers needed no such counterpart. The show worked better when Steed and his partners simply showed up on the scene and got to work on the case. Mother contributed little to the substance of the show. And that "rule" of his that labeled an agent a traitor because s/he hadn't been heard from for nine hours was utterly ridiculous. An obvious plot device to limp the story along.
Finally, I thought it was a very poor send off for our Mrs. Peel. Having her incapacitated by the amnesia drug for the balance of the episode rendered her near useless. It was almost like a dethroning, just to make Tara look good. Mrs. Peel did recover at the very end to shoot the baddie, but then it was too late. She had become an also-ran. Her final scene with Steed, of course, is hard for any fan to watch. Just hearing Steed call her Emma in earnest, with a forcedness in his voice barely hiding the hurt inside, is enough to choke you up. I don't doubt Patrick Macnee went off and cried after the take.
It's interesting that both The Avengers and Doctor Who shared a similar crossroads in their histories. For me the Golden Age of Who ended with the Tom Baker Era and its celebrated Fourth Doctor. His final story, "Logopolis," shares analogous deficiencies with "Knot." "Logopolis" had a hopelessly convoluted plot that strove for greatness, but never found it. The characterizations were weak. The Doctor's arch nemesis, The Master, played by Anthony Ainley, seemed particularly cartoonish. And the plot seemed to go out of its way to "debunk" the mythos of the Fourth Doctor by making him seem almost irrelevant to the plot. Sound familiar? Overall, a poor sendoff for the show's most popular Doctor.
Doctor Who suffered a similar loss of quality after Tom left as The Avengers did after Diana Rigg left. None of the post-Tom Baker Doctors—Peter Davidson, Colin Baker, or Sylvester McCoy—could hold a candle to their predecessors, Hartnell, Troughton, Pertwee, and T. Baker. (McCoy came the closest, but by that point the writing was irretrievably awful.) The companions became more annoying. And the writing quality tanked, with slapstick and broad humor taking over.
Someone on a Doctor Who fan site once wrote that after a while they realized they didn't really like Peter Davidson's Doctor so much as they pitied him. In a sense, that remark can be applied to Tara as well, as well as "The Forget-Me-Knot."
One and a half bowlers—a half for the episode, but one for the final farewell scene (sob!).
I have (or had) every Avengers tape that was sold. I've recently thrown them all away because of the higher quality DVD sets, of which I bought every one. Thank God for DVD. My collection was huge. So why am I writing this? "The Forget-Me-Knot" reviews I've read here made me think of all the episodes I've seen with Cathy, Emma, Tara, and Purdey. Over the last few months I've watched all my DVD's again and then I decided to write this.
There is no question that the Emma Peel episodes were by far the best. She was the best partner (as far as compatibility with Steed was concerned), and the most fun to watch. Cathy was far more Steed's equal but the chemistry was much stronger with Emma. Cathy was still a great character, though. Smart and beautiful. We almost don't think of her as a partner as much as another agent by the way she treats Steed. She set the way, and I watch her episodes with admiration for what she's done.
When I got to "The Forget-Me-Knot," I was upset. I knew the story by heart and I could almost recite every line. It made me sad. Was Emma mistreated? No. As always, she held her own even without Steed, which is something Tara took time to do. Unlike many people here, I didn't hate the episode at all. I hated what it meant. No more Emma Peel! That's the bottom line. I've read many reviews, not just here, but at other sites as well, including magazines. Everyone says, "they should have done a better story." In truth it would have made no difference to any of us (the true fans). Would we really be happy with any story that marked the end of Emma Peel? Of course not. If Diana Rigg had it her way, Emma would have died. That's what she suggested. Can you imagine? Thank God no one listened to her.
I don't think Diana Rigg wanted to be there at all. I actually thought she was pretty much going through the motions for the last couple of episodes anyway. It showed, which is a shame. But no matter what any of us says—"We hated it," "We loved it"—none of us can stand to watch the final scene. We all know it by heart. Because even though Diana was ready to move on to something else, her final shot with Steed was enough to wrench the heart out of every fan of the show. There was no mistaking her feelings for Patrick or what the show meant to her in the end. Even though they were apart during most of the episode, Diana brought it all home in the last few minutes. Her scene with Tara was great! I liked the tea line, because it was almost as if "Emma-Diana" knew something about her relationship with Steed that even we didn't know. Good for her! It brought a smile to my face when she told us just one more thing we didn't know about the two of them. I thought it was great. And the way Tara looked at her after they passed on the stairs was fantastic. For the first time during the episode, Tara didn't look like some deer caught in the headlights; she looked like she was really saying goodbye to someone she respected. Of course, she lost that as soon as she went in to see Steed, but, nevertheless, the look at Emma was there and any real fan could see it.
Was I happy Emma left? No. Did I hate Tara King? No. Would I ever be happy without Emma? Never! Even when Purdey came on board, I thought she was a massive character. Deadly and beautiful. Completely professional! Great chemistry with Steed! The leg kicks and martial arts were fantastic! Loved the part where Purdey shows her distain for Emma during "K is for Kill." Even she knew she was no match for Mrs. Peel! Who could be? If Purdey paled, did Tara stand a chance? Let's face it, we would have hated "The Forget-Me-Knot" even with a great story because Tara was sharing the limelight with the one and only Emma Peel. And after all, who wants to see that?
So I'll say this: "The Forget-Me-Knot" was one of my favorite episodes! Why? Because I know what's going to happen. I know that the best part of the whole thing is going to come at the very end. I love watching the clips as Steed remembers Emma. I love the way Emma is going off to a happy life with Peter. I love the way she looks at Steed at the end and smiles. I love the way he calls her "Emma"! I love how she makes Tara feel welcome on the stairs. I love how she looks at Peter in the car and then waves to Steed! God, she was happy! And finally, I love the way he says "Thanks!", as if for all of us!
"Thanks Emma! You were great! And
everyone misses you!"
As Pat notes in the introduction, aptly titled. But like "Bizarre," and the Canadian episodes of The New Avengers, it serves as a poor epitaph for the era it ended. Poor Emma is locked away for most of the episode without a memory. While she does get a reasonably good fight scene at the end, for most of the time Diana seems to be slightly miffed at having been recalled. When she's engaged, though, she manages to do some marvellous things: her response to Mortimer's "bed" reaction, the opening lines with Steed, and that wonderful final scene. However, no amount of acting could save a convoluted plot that seems to over-rely on the dubious selective amnesia device (the brain drain machine's effect in "The Three-Handed Game" was a lot more convincing), and Laurie's amnesia theme played so many times it really gets my goat by the end of the episode! However, the opening scene in the glass house is nicely done, and there is that fantastic end scene! Honourary mentions must go to Jeremy's Burnham and Young for their great guesting roles, and dishonourable mention to James Hill (sorry) for allowing us to see a stuntman that looks as much like Pat as Diana does!
Linda, bless her, was only just out of drama school. She looks so young it's almost painful. The Bryce episodes, from what I can see, give her very little to go on in terms of character, and so does this. You can't really blame her for a bad script. She acts the role competently enough, just not in the way that we expect. It's the character that's way out of beam—a wide eyed student (Agent 69 indeed! Tut, tut Brian!) to competent agent in an hour? With this plot? It can't happen. At least we get to see signs that she's attracted to Steed, and she actually gets to figure out, in a rough way, what's been going on—how many times would that happen later?
Mother, on the other hand, was to diminish later in my book. Here he is totally believable, and not so over-the-top, which is well in keeping with how I think he should be. The set with the ladders is fantastic, and Newell's portrayal of him is sympathetic and gentle, only getting mad when he should. Note that this is the only time he calls Steed "John," and the only time that he "walks." I'm glad they managed to get rid of the "mother jokes" though. They'd more than worn thin by the end.
Pat looks not so much fed up as confused. So many new things to get over, and so many old things to kiss goodbye, too. The suits would no longer be as stylish, the plots no longer so good, the chemistry not quite as sparkling (Brian is right that Steed would have looked like a dirty old man had it been an Emma-style relationship; having said that, look at Venus Smith...), the energy not quite there, the Bentley disappearing, those awful shirts in the tag scenes (we're spared the last two at least!). He only really comes to life at the end. The rest of the episode sees him going through the motions for the best part.
That final scene! Oh! Rarely did the original Avengers deal with emotion, but here it does and does it well. Emma is just as choked up as Steed about having to leave him, which is why she whispers to him so intimately, trying to hide the pain. Steed for once is almost lost for words. It's so beautifully done, the actors could almost be talking to each other at that point. We know they got on so well, and just look at the affection that's in both their eyes. This is just more than another scene, it's something else. You're completely taken by it, and the slight comic relief we get from seeing Peter at the end is almost needed to perk us up a bit. Look at Pat ruefully trying to cheer himself up there, a nice touch. "Ra Boom-De-Ay!" he exclaims at finding out Tara is to be the new assistant. Sadly, some of the plots wouldn't reflect the enthusiasm.
The end of an era which more hinted what was to come than what had passed. 5/10.
This episode for me was perhaps the best and the worst at the same time. It is the best because you get the feeling that Emma truly loves Steed but must leave because of the upstanding woman she is. It is also the worst because it introduces the woman who I completely believe ended the legacy that was The Avengers. On the review note, "The Forget-Me-Knot" has an odd plot and I wish that Emma Peel hadn't had to go out the way she did. The character of Tara King I found completely annoying but the story, while convoluted, does hold a certain charm. Overall I give this episode three bowlers out of five.
This is my all time favourite episode for many reasons but the main one is the change of the shows direction and the introduction of our new super-agent, Tara King. From here (69) on in I think that the show was at its best. Colour also was introduced to the show a big thing in those days by the way. Anyway, the plot is very good and a lot of forgetful agents abound in this one. As always, Steed and his dashing ally, Mrs Peel, go into the rescue for some of their colleagues who have been betrayed by their own Ministry agents.
This introduces us to the character of Mother, and it was an interesting slant on the show's future development. Mother also gets the help of a new agent, Tara King, and introduces this character also for the first time.Tara meets Steed in the training area and puts Steed in his place on the ground after a very tight neck lock—a very good action sequence characteristic of the show throughout. Later she comes to Steed's rescue.
There are lots of twists and turns in the episode, and just about every one comes under suspicion, including our Steed, who is having to put up with Mrs Peel loosing her memory. If that's all Mr Peel lost in the entire series, she's a very lucky lady indeed. Anyway, Steed finally gets his man and Tara uses a brick to knock out one of the villains, which shows her ingenuity to the full. The buildup throughout the show was very good, brought the new character in with a lot of action, and phased out Mrs Peel very well, whose husband was found in the Amazon. Steed, of course, leaves the decision with Mother as to who is best to replace Mrs Peel: enter Tara. I like the closing sequence of this episode with Tara and Steed—it's very classy and works well because the show is class.
Many fans seem to knock Tara King/Linda Thorson in the new role, but I would say very few can take over the part of someone else and get away with it as well as did Linda Thorson in the role of Tara, rather than someone else mimic another Mrs Peel, for example, which would have been a total disaster (well, we all know about the movie, now, don't we?). I blame the two leading characters for the demise of the movie and no one else. If fans look at "The Forget-Me-Knot" again, they will see a professional at work in Tara King. It’'s still one of the very best episodes... 10 out of 10 in my book.
The plot for this episode becomes totally irrelevant in view of what we know is coming: Emma's departure at the end. I've just watched it again for the first time in years, and I now remember how sad it made me. One sure way to start a spirited debate among Avengers fans is to bring up the issue of whether Diana Rigg's exit killed the series. Linda Thorson will always have her supporters, but let's face it: Dame Diana is the female equivalent of Sir Laurence Olivier. It's hard to see how the loss of such talent could help any show.
Everything in "The Forget-Me-Knot" is just a backdrop for the big event. Otherwise, you'd have to chunk it in the trash. But that's pretty much where the whole series ended up eventually. Looking back over time, I'm convinced that Emma Peel is the character which Diana Rigg was born to play. It's certainly the one for which she's best remembered. I wish she hadn't left it just when The Avengers was catching on. "The Forget-Me-Knot" does the best it can to make the transition and introduce a new character. But to most of us, Steed and Emma will always be The Avengers. It's hard to care any more after watching Mrs. Peel walk out of our lives forever.
Plot: OK. A normal defector story this time, with amnesia-inducing drugs. Weak excuse for not just killing Steed, Emma, Tara, and Sean.
Humour: OK. I liked Tara's "the Steed method for this" and "the Steed method for that."
Direction: Good. Nice camerawork on the people who were being drugged.
Acting: Very Good. Although Diana Rigg seemed to be sleep walking for most of the episode, she gave a touching performance in the tag.
Music: Good. Nice music during the introduction.
Tag: Excellent. The tag was almost ruined by Tara, but it remains very touching. One of the best tags, if not the best.
Miscellaneous: If you look closely, you will notice the opening sequence is slightly different. So, if you do not contact Mother every nine hours you're a traitor? Please! Patrick's a handsome fellow, but isn't Tara just a little too young to fall in love with Steed? I really do not like the idea of Mother. One great thing about The Avengers was that you never saw Steed's boss. This gave Steed an air of mystery. Sure, you saw some of his bosses in the Cathy Gale era, but it rarely happened and it was someone different. Steed had a mean doctor: he immediately assumed Steed was drunk without having a blood alcohol test done. The Tara King season would have been vastly improved if we had more scenes of Steed knocking Tara unconscious. Unlike some, I do not blame Linda Thorson for the downfall of the show. The quality of scripts noticeably drops from the black and white Emma Peel episodes to the color ones. So we say farewell to Emma (sobs) and hello to Tara King (argh), but not for me—I'm heading to the Cathy Gale episodes.
Overall Rating: 7/10
I have always found at least something to enjoy from every episode of The Avengers I have seen (which, admittedly, hasn't been that many at the moment), but I have to say that I was very hard pushed to find anything particularly outstanding about this episode which, after all, is a pivotal one in the history of the series.
However, there are good points. Patrick Macnee gives his usual immaculate performance and, unlike all the other victims of the memory-zapping darts, convinces me that he has actually lost his memory. Also, even though this probably goes against popular opinion, I actually enjoyed Linda Thorson's performance as Tara King, although perhaps somebody could explain to me why, after we have seen her undergoing a combat training exercise towards the beginning of the episode, does she deliver the "coup de grace" at the end using, of all things, a brick in her handbag? Perhaps, in hindsight, this was a taste of things to come in the final season. I also thoroughly enjoyed Patrick Newell's performance as Mother, far more believable than the stereotypical cantankerous curmudgeon of a boss which we see later on in the Tara King era. Finally, I think Jeremy Burnham's performance as the overly suspicious and earnest Simon Filson is worthy of an honorable mention.
Now for the bad points. Firstly, much as I like the idea of memory-killing darts, it simply isn't a long enough thread on which to hang a 50-minute plot. The writer seems to think that having all the protagonists dashing hither and thither (from Steed's to Mother's, then back to Steed's, back to Mother's, then to Tara's, etc.) will help sustain the viewer's interest enough for him/her not to notice how weak the plot is. Secondly, I simply can't see how George Burton could possibly be the mastermind of this plot. As played by Jeremy Young, his character is way too understated and, arguably, not menacing enough to convince me that he could bring down the British Secret Service. The other main supporting characters (Patrick Kavanaugh as Sean Mortimer, Alan Lake as Karl and Douglas Sheldon as Brad) are also, ahem, forgettable. But the greatest crime of all on the part of the writer was not to give Diana Rigg/Emma Peel enough to do, apart from in the final act when she finally shows off her fighting techniques. The scenes between her and Sean Mortimer as they "struggle" (?) to regain their memories in the glass factory are cringeworthy!
Nevertheless, the episode is saved by the quite marvellous tag scene between Steed and Emma. It is superbly written and acted and, to a certain degree, compensates for most of the shortcomings on display during the previous three quarters of an hour or so. Yet, on the whole, I have to conclude that this episode is neither the best way in which to mark the end of one era nor to usher in a new one. Two and a half bowlers at best.
I watched this episode last night (for at least the 10th time) and picked up on some things that I hadn't really noticed before. I, like most of the other reviewers, have tended to dismiss the first 50 minutes of this episode as being boring and barely watchable. I would impatiently sit through it (fighting the temptation to hit the fast forward button) to get to the heartbreaking good-bye scene between Macnee and Rigg. Not Steed and Mrs. Peel, Macnee and Rigg.
What I found interesting about the main part of the episode are the signals being sent to us concerning the Steed/Mrs. Peel relationship. At one point Mrs. Peel is throwing bottles into the trash bin and saying "He loves me, he loves me not." All of a sudden she stops and says "Steed!" as her memory begins to return to her. And when Steed is struggling to regain his memory, Mrs. Peel's face (with a very loving look on it) starts fading in and out of his consciousness. I think the show's creators are presenting us with some pretty strong evidence in this last episode that they were really in love with each other.
As genuinely moving as the good-bye scene is, there is something comical about it as well. Macnee is clearly a basket case in it, barely able to speak his lines. You can see him struggling to maintain his composure. The Steed mask falls off and Patrick Macnee is revealed as the human being with a heart that he really is. I like and admire him all the more for it. Rigg is also visibly affected but does a much better job of maintaining her composure. It could be a gender thing going on here- women are simply more comfortable then men in emotional situations.
The final scenes are also quite amazing. Ostensibly light-hearted, they have an absolutely overwhelming feeling of melancholy about them. I can't recall ever seeing such a juxtaposition of action and tone in any film (much less any TV show) I've ever seen.
Yes, Tara and Mother are catastrophes. Yes, this was the beginning of the end. But... "Forget-Me Knot" is in its own way a very essential episode to Avengers lovers.
Perhaps I am almost alone in finding this episode actually quite good. While most of us were very sad to see the departure of the wonderful Mrs Emma Peel, there is much in this episode to make us look forward to her replacement, Tara King. While "The Forget-Me-Knot" is a transitional episode, with definite nostalgia present, we have plenty of humour, 60s British stiff upper-lip and action galore.
In meeting Agent 69, Tara is a much younger, but equally beautiful, bona fide agent. Yes, she is styled differently: immaculate short hair and a distinct lack of leather apparel, but here we see a move away from the "acid Chelsea-wit" and an altogether distinct move into a less contrived, cold, upper-class type of woman who can still pack a punch, even if it be a handbag in this episode, whilst, of course having perfect diction. If you look at Cathy's and Emma's styles they were remarkably similar especially their hair and ever-present leather action suits, even to the point, it could be argued, of their diction and wit.
Tara King was and deserves to be totally different. Her first encounter with Steed is dynamic enough, as she throws him over her shoulder, and her meeting with him later on at HQ presents us with a beautiful, altogether softer, but equally feminine "new Avenger." Tara is resourceful throughout the episode and we can hardly expect her to have her character signed, sealed and delivered in a mere 60 minutes.
What was sad is just how distanced from each other all of the characters seem to be: Steed, Emma and Tara are very removed from each other, each one going it alone as it were. There is a slight sign of what "might have been," when Emma and Tara meet on the stairs to Steed's flat. However, I feel that the script on the whole was balanced and both women hold their own and are given adequate screen time in this remarkably short episode.
Emma goes, but Steed has 32 more wonderful adventures with Tara, and in my opinion, Linda Thorson does an incredible job. There is the start of what becomes a lasting chemistry between her and Patrick Macnee. The start of the Tara King era begins with the very catchy, swinging "Avenger's Thorson Theme" and we see Steed and Tara walk off hand in hand... to face those villains.
Tara is very different from Cathy and Emma but then that is part of what makes The Avengers so unique and special for everyone... we all have our favourite lady...
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