Ministry of Order Details
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British or American series?

When it comes to episode guides, the purists do not acknowledge the American market in any way. In their eyes, the Tara King era constitutes a single, unbroken block of 33 episodes. Never mind the fact that there is an unambiguous point at which the production team was restructured—which is clearly marked by a change in the opening and closing title sequences (obfuscated by the British broadcasters, who replaced all of the "older" title sequences), as well as changes in Tara King's character.

This is the point at which the American third season order was fulfilled, and the producers began work on the American fourth season order. But wait—it's a British series, right? Strictly speaking, it started as a British series. But by the onset of the color episodes, it was no longer a purely British production; the UK had by then stopped commissioning any episodes. The studio was not only relying entirely on American dollars to keep the show running, but producing episodes to meet the American schedule and even tailoring the show to suit the American market.

For instance... did you notice how Emma Peel seemed more mellow in the color episodes than she was in the monochromes? She was "softened" at the request of the Americans. Her fighting style was "toned down" as well. Even the language saw subtle changes: flats became apartments; lifts became elevators.

By the time Tara King arrived, the Americans were in even greater control. There is evidence that Linda Thorson's selection was approved by the executives at ABC in America. And Mother (Patrick Newell) was added as a regular character at the direction of ABC—their demand was reputed to have come in the form of, "We want the fat guy."

The Americans got away with all of this for one simple reason: they were holding the purse strings. The British had stopped ordering new episodes altogether, appearing to have abandoned their own offspring, even as it rose to record heights of popularity in other countries.

For these and other reasons, I saw fit to break with the purists and acknowledge the American market in structuring the episode guides. After all, were it not for the good old U.S. of A., the series might have ended with "Honey for the Prince," or, at best, with "Mission... Highly Improbable"—in black and white.

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Page last modified: 5 May 2017.

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