(White Jaguar TV) Jason King: Toki
It's been a while since I've watched a Jason King and I'm suffering from some culture shock, so perhaps I'd better start with a disclaimer that it's very unlikely this blog post will be very serious. Because, well, Jason King.
When I started this blog I made a conscious decision to minimize pure description of shows, because it gets so wearing reading the same stuff all over the internet. However I am going to make an exception for this episode because how otherwise am I going to reference Jason King's Groovy Pad?
Original ITC Synopsis (contains spoilers)
Jason King falls in love with a gangster's girl friend - and finds that the arrows of love can lead to death.
Olivier (DAVID BUCK) is a man with a mission. He wants to steal one million franc's worth of emeralds from Paris' Orly Airport. And he needs the help of gang leader Jean le Grand in order to carry out the raid. But le Grand (KIERON MOORE) knows that Olivier would very much like to steal his girl as well.
That's why he sets his watch dogs to keep an eye on the girl, Toki (FELICITY KENDAL), to see just how much interest she pays in Olivier. Toki knows too much about the gang. She knows that le Grand plans to turn the tables on Olivier, for instance, to kill him when he's stolen the jewels.
And that's where Jason King (PETER WYNGARDE) comes into it. Jason is fighting to complete a new novel on time, but things are not going well. Taking a break from typing he sees Toki in a cafe and, always ready to give a pretty face a second glance, introduces himself. Gradually, he falls in love with the pretty gamin, and buys her jewels and perfume, and entertains her at his flat. Through her , too , he meets Olivier.
Le Grand is quietly building up a case against the girl. From the reports he is given, it appears as if King, Toki and Olivier are in League. Could they be part of The Syndicate?
King realises he is being followed, and knows that there is trouble in store for Toki. He packs her off to safety in the South of France and waits for trouble to hit.
But le Grand turns his killers loose on Olivier first. They fix a phoney car crash, and then set out to find - and kill - the lovely Toki.
Le Grand intends to kill Jason King himself, though. He breaks into King's apartment, backed up by the guns of gang members Jules (OLIVER MacGREEVY) and Maunice (YURI BORIENKO), and tells King they are "going for a ride".
King tries to trick le Grand and the others, and there is a fight in which Maurice falls form a window and is killed. King is eventually overpowered, and le Grand takes him to a lonely car dump where he plans to set fire to the car.
But somehow King is not worried. Le Grand thinks he's bluffing, pours from a petrol can, and throws a match. But the car does not catch light. Then the police arrive. King has taken his precautions in advance. The petrol can was filled with water, and the gendarmes have been following all along.
It seems that the case is over. Le Grand and his gang are in prison, and all that remains is a telephone call to Nice.
But Toki is dead. The gang has beaten King at the end. All that is left is the novel. And a deadline to meet.
I am probably going to horrify the entire classic TV blogosphere if I say that I have just thought that there is a connection between Jason King and Jessica Fletcher. Both are professional authors, which as we know is work requiring continual hard work, dedication and application, and yet both also go around getting involved with crime at the same time. This Jason King brings in his editor in her role of nag. Ms Fletcher didn't have an editor that I remember!
Despite his relative lack of application, Jason King nonetheless seems to produce books like nobody's business and also spend significant time out of the country in the sophisticated settings beloved of ITC - I think elsewhere this is said to be for tax reasons. In this case in Paris. Some of it was filmed on location in Paris but my absolutely favourite part of this episode is the café. It's as if an English person had put together a fantasy version of what a French café would be like, right up to artists displaying their paintings. I do like very much that this show will tend to emphasize some of a character's features. Nationality, for example. It means it's over done but it has the advantage you don't need much explaining and you quickly have things like characters' native land sussed. Which rather raises the question of what country (or planet) Jason King himself is from, and I rather think it might be La La Land.
Neither do his outfits disappoint in this one. I think my favourite is the fur coat. Because obviously, what would you wear. The purple kaftan (against the completely brown background of his flat, is like a condensed version of the whole seventies. There is an interesting parallel between the luxury the gangster lives in and the luxury Jason King lives in. I may be pushing this too far because of course ITC programmes had a continual setting of luxury on the continent, but I'm wondering whether there is an intended message that King's luxury living is honestly earned by writing books.
I love King's attempt to chat up Toki. Giving a woman your phone number in case she tries to run away is a new one on me! His attitude towards his agent and truth is shown to be rather dodgy when his 'approximately' 50 pages actually being seven! All in all Jason King is the kind of man your mother warned you to avoid, at least as far as he is revealed in this episode. Despite the seventies being otherwise the decade that taste forgot when King goes shopping I counted no fewer than three Minis parked outside the shop. I know they were popular but I wonder whether that was product placement?
None of this explains why a British woman played by Felicity Kendal has the name Toki. As always I do extensive research for these ramblings and that's how I found out the name is Japanese.
I do like the use of the Jaguar crash footage here, it's quite a low key use, and not one that screams, oh look we've crashed a car.
There are two things slightly wrong with this episode and they both happen in the denouement in the scrapyard. One is that we all know that TV shows and films don't really pour petrol over actors and set light to it, but there are ways of making it look like they have. Sadly the petrol poured over the car obviously isn't petrol because it doesn't catch light! The other is that unless my eyes deceive me, I can't believe that scrap yard was in France. I think it was here. That is unless there is a yard in Paris that specializes in British cars.
Insane fashion and plot, that's what you watch Jason King for.