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"The final season of the original Avengers finally comes to DVD & VHS in region one. "The Forget me knot," the debut episode of Ms. Tara King played by Linda Thorson, was released back in 1998, but only now is the entire series seeing the light of day - and it's been well worth the wait. There are many of course who do not rate these last adventures featuring the debonair John Steed as Britain's top government agent as highly as what had gone before, and it's easy to see why. Steed's pairing originally with Mrs Gale (Honor Blackman) and later Mrs Peel (Diana Rigg) had been an excellent match for his skills. With Mrs Peel leaving the show, the producers, Brian Clemens and Albert Fennell followed suit and John Bryce was brought back to the programme, following his stint producing the early Mrs Gale episodes.The first thing Bryce did was to cast his girlfriend, twenty one year old Canadian Linda Thorson as Steed's new assistant, Miss Tara King. In order to complete the delivery of episodes to the US market, production was fairly rushed, and what came out of it was deemed substandard. Bryce was sacked and Fennell and Clemens brought back to rescue the production. Clemens was particularly unhappy about Linda Thorson's role, but it was too late in the day to do anything about it. They set about filming the initial block of 8 episodes (extended to 9), rehashing two of the abandoned Bryce episodes, and bringing back Mrs Peel for the one-off story "The forget me knot" to introduce the new character of Tara (although this "debut" was actually filmed third). Once these episodes were ready, they set about producing the final batch of 24.There is a very significant shift in the character of Tara King between these two production blocks as Thorson began to gain confidence in the part. Also added as a regular into the later stories is Steed & Tara's boss, "Mother," played by Patrick Newell. Thorson's inexperience and the naivety of the character are often cited as the reason the show was cancelled after these episodes were transmitted. Personally, I think the inclusion of the very annoying "Mother" to be a far more valid reason. But it's all a matter of taste.The stories are included on the discs in the order they were first transmitted in the UK. I would strongly recommend viewing them in PRODUCTION ORDER (easy to track on any Avengers website). There are several reasons for this. It's easier to warm to Miss King as you follow her character development. It also makes more sense to understand her constant hair changes and costume. She started as a blonde, moved to a be-wigged brunette, and only in the latter 24 episodes did we see Thorson's own hair. We can also see how the actress started in "slimmed down mode" (on the orders of the TV station) but regained her lost weight as the series moved along. The character also started out as a complete "spy" trainee, but by the second production block, had become one of the most experienced agents in Mother's department. I also enjoyed seeing the rehashed sets from episode to episode too. All these nuances are lost by following the stories strictly in disc order, and indeed the characterisation of the leads is actually confusing if you simply watch the shows in disc order.As for the discs themselves, sadly A&E have once again neglected to include any extras at all. All there is are a few still photos, although it has to be said that the menus are at least very well done. The picture quality is certainly very sharp, but there are definitely flaws due to sparkle and dirt. Sadly, "You'll catch your death" has been transferred incorrectly, and the picture strobes and jumps throughout. Clearly no-one at A&E was paying much attention to the remastering process.Clemens believes this batch of episodes to be the best of the entire run of The Avengers. He has stated that everything came together right in terms of production and scripts. I can't say I agree entirely. They are certainly as enjoyable as anything else, but the total fantasy nature of the stories and the weakness of Tara and Mother characters combine to take the edge away when compared to the earlier Peel episodes. Regardless, it's all camp and wacky fun and I still highly recommend this collection to any fan of the series as there is plenty here to enjoy."
Superb episodes but...
Stephen | Honolulu, HI USA | 01/25/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For those new to The Avengers, ignore all the bad press that the delectable Tara King gets. Sure Emma Peel was sublime, and Cathy Gale was right on. But Tara King was also top notch, as were most of her episodes. Wherever you go on the web you will find Tara's episodes variously panned. Tish and pish! They are some of the most interesting, quirky and truly '60's' episodes of ANY television show ever.Let me first state that the high rating of five stars relates to the greatness of the episodes, which is mainly the point of these reviews. Sadly the quality of these so-called 'digitally remastered' episodes by A&E is worse than bad. Unfortunately the picture quality of my A&E DVD release of these magnificent episodes is passable at best. Now given the mass production method used in manufacturing these things I do not accept that only my copy is dodgy and I assume that the VHS releases are similarly affected. In particular, the episode on vol 1 of this set, "You'll Catch Your Death" is so poorly remastered as to be distracting. The brightness is shocking and the screen flickers with the old stains and blemishes I can only assume remain on the original film stock. Why haven't they been removed? Come on A&E (and Canal+ in France) get it together! There are many fans out there that expect better and will pay for it. Don't sell us short.If you want truly good remastered episodes, I suggest you try and find the (now deleted) 1990's Lumiere releases on VHS. I know its an increasingly unpopular format, but faced with the abysmal quality of the A&E releases, it's worth the hunt believe me. I have several and they are excellent.Sorry A&E but you should know better than that."
I liked Tara!
Deborah MacGillivray | US & UK | 09/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Each of Steed's ladies made their own mark. Honor Blackman's Kathy Gale, set the pace. Sleek sassy women, who were as smart as they were sexy. They held their own in a man's world and didn't need someone to take care of them. Blackman and Rigg were two very positive role models in a time when most women were victims, wives or secretaries on telly at the time. Blackman made less of an impact in US, because they were generally shown as a Summer Replacement, to keep people from seeing reruns. Since they were run on ABC, tried to be recognized as a big-boy network the old Black and White Gales were not widely scene.
Rigg came along and made Emma Peel a character that will go down in the hall of fame. She is as popular today, if not more so. So when she left--to do as Blackman did -- go on to be a Bond girl, Steed had to have another partner. Enter Tara King. She gorgeous full figure Canadian with eyes to do for. They tried to play on her more feminine side (and with horrid fashions). Seriously, the clothes designers for Tara needs shooting. For the most part, they couldn't design more dumpy look clothes. They stuffed her in a series of wigs - some very bad - so point one, she was fighting an uphill battle. Also, the scripts were not as sharp. Even so Tara is charming and a pleasure to watch.
This is the first series for her. Episodes include:
Game The Super Secret Cypher Snatch You'll Catch Your Death Split Whoever Shot Poor George Oblique Stroke XR40 False Witness"
Holds Its Own in Relation to the Mrs. Peel Set.
William Bradford | Palos Park, IL United States | 02/27/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As some of you who have read other reviews that I have done for The Avengers series and I'll say it again... Being a new fan in terms of seeing the movie, see my review, I became interested in the show.Now granted Mrs. Peel was beautiful and had class and brains, and Blackman had curves and brains also, yet most people over look Tara King. She did have very good wits and great intellect. When I first bought this set I thought I was wasting my money, but I was wrong. This volume is pretty good. The firt two episodes are hard to get use to the idea of Steed working with someone else other than Peel, yet after that you warm up to the idea nicely. She adds a new spark to the show and a something... I don't know what, as the French would say. The transfer of the shows is not bad although A&E should have made another master copy and given some better color job or sharpened the picture. Yet those are just small complaints. Steed and King do work well together and they do have chemistry which does make watching the show more enjoyable."
Worth the wait...?
Jake10865 | Miami, FL USA | 11/12/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"While many Avenger fans rate the Tara King episodes as below par, for me they are a great reminder of that late 60's TV era. Tara was actually the first Avenger girl I can recall although catching up on the Emma Peel years has hardly been difficult.The most unfortunate aspect of this 2-disc set has to be the quality of the prints used. The earlier Avenger releases (of much older material) were certainly shown some additional tender loving care. Maybe A&E have shown favor to the more well known Mrs Peel while Tara's stories have not received an equally impressive 'wash and brush up'.The episodes are marked with many nicks and scratches, some of which run through the whole picture for minutes at a time. One story borders on the unwatchable as all of the print damage is shown in full digital quality !Don't let us down A&E. Your releases of British TV have been excellent up till now. No slacking off please in quality or quantity."