Thursday 25 January 2024

The Avengers - Stay Tuned

Stay Tuned is another Tara King episode of The Avengers, and this one is a corker. It was written by Tony Williamson and directed by Don Chaffey and first aired in February 1969.

Steed is getting ready to leave for three weeks holiday. As he’s about to walk out the door Tara arrives and she’s decidedly puzzled. Steed has already had his three-week holiday. Steed assumes that she’s playing a joke on him, until she advises him to check his suitcase. It’s full of dirty laundry and souvenirs he bought on his vacation. She also shows him today’s newspaper, whereupon Steed realises he has lost three weeks of his life.

He must have been somewhere during those three weeks but he has no idea where. He doesn’t remember a thing.

He also tries to crash Tara’s car, but he doesn’t know why.

The forensics people check his car. It has been in France and Italy, and it has recently been sideswiped by another vehicle.
And then Steed finds himself once again getting ready to set off on that very same holiday. Losing his memory is bad enough but he seems to be condemned to keep living the same events over and over again.

To solve the problem he will have to figure out why Tara lied to him. She would never lie to him. It doesn’t make sense.

Even when we start to realise at least some of what is going there’s still plenty of suspense and weirdness. Steed of course fears that he is going mad, and it has to be admitted that the evidence tends to point that way. Tara on the other hand refuses to believe that Steed has gone mad. One way or another she’s going to find the solution to the puzzle, or at least help Steed to do so.

A nice touch is Tara’s very genuine concern for Steed, which is clearly more than just professional concern.

Mother doesn’t appear in the early part of this episode. He’s on leave, so Father has taken over. Father is of course a woman, and both Father and Father’s flat add further surreal touches. And Mother will put in an appearance later - he has an important part to play in the plot.

Both Patrick Macnee and Linda Thorson are in fine acting form. Roger Delgado provides a menacing and sinister presence. 

And it’s always a treat to see Howard Marion-Crawford. He plays Collins, an agent assigned by Father to keep an eye on Steed.

And we get a good fight scene between Linda Thorson and Kate O’Mara. Honestly, what more could you want?

The bizarre psychiatrist’s office set, the mysterious room in the house in Fitzherbert Street and the man following Steed and Steed’s totally unaccountable failure to spot this man even when he’s only a few feet away from him add further bizarre disturbing touches.

The set design is top-notch. There’s a wonderful atmosphere - there’s something very wrong and unsettling about everything but Steed just can’t put the pieces together.

Stay Tuned is yet another Tara King episode that compares more than favourably the best Emma Peel episodes. Highly recommended.

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