Friday, 3 January 2014

Danger Man: The Lovers

The reason I'm considering this episode of Danger Man, & also Fish on the Hook, at this point, is I want to examine them before coming to the next episode of The Prisoner, since all three have an actor called Martin Miller in them. I feel that this may be slightly more than coincidence, & my thesis is that this is deliberate to recreate Danger Man's contacts in The Prisoner. In the case of this Danger Man episode the character played by Miller dies, so the two successive appearances don't refer to the same person, but I feel he here represents an embryonic idea for a character who recurs in the other two programmes, who I suspect may be identified as the same person. I realise the most obvious argument against this is the simple fact that the same crowd of familiar faces do appear over & over again in all of these 1960s TV shows. That is insurmountable, so I feel that this recurrence of actors between the two shows will always be one of those things that you either can believe or not. This is surely much of the point of The Prisoner & its relationship to Danger Man, that it can be understood in so many ways.
I love these early half-hour episodes of Danger Man, & this is a stonker (I'm seriously thinking of having a tag of 'stonking good television'). It may appear to be stretching things too far to try to find antecedents to The Prisoner in this series (this one dates to 1960), but I feel similarities may have been picked up for use in the later show, even if they only appear in embryo here.
I particularly love the titles of these & the music. The block of offices Drake comes out of was actually brand new in 1960 & was the first of that construction in London. You could live there & develop a Danger Man fantasy on a daily basis every time you go out - it has now been converted to flats & the name changed from Castrol House to Marathon House.
Drake's accent is interesting in this one, quite unabashedly American at times of stress, such as when he is on the phone, less so at other times. This episode is unusual because he's called in by the Baravian President & his wife - president of a country that has declared a death sentence on Drake - to protect them. Plot-wise it's good, its relatively simple plot does not suffer from the shortcomings of the half hour timing, where some of the episodes have insufficient development or go too fast. It manages to maintain interest, with enough going on. The best bit is Drakes comment that 'there are no real craftsmen any more,' when a bomb goes off earlier than expected. The only shortcoming is that the bomber falls into Drake's lap by approaching him himself.
As for Miller - & his relationship to the characters he plays later - he here makes a marvellously sinister character, telling Drake about his little cat then talking about making bombs. He gives (& confirms by saying) an impression of being a single man by his slightly unkempt appearance, & does not come across as at all a family figure. He is clearly a craftsman, a technician, he could well be an engineer, & presumably learned his knowledge of explosives in the armed forces. It is clear that he has pride in his work, but is also quite content to run with the hare & hunt with the hounds at the same time. He does not have a moustache here.
I wouldn't actually go to the stake for this argument, but I'm squeezing the detail out of Miller's character so that in successive posts I can either connect his characters to this one or not. My theory here is that characters appearing later appear in embryonic form - or in this case the *idea* of a character - in these early series. For me this draws a parallel with McGoohan supposedly specifically requesting Richard Wattis to play one of his erstwhile associates in The Chimes of Big Ben, on the basis that he had previously played his boss in the early days of Danger Man. For me the point here is not whether the whole Drake/Number 6 identification is what is intended, because I think that is to miss the point of The Prisoner. The point is rather whether the identification will hold water, & to what extent, & what happens when you actually subject the evidence to scrutiny.

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