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Showing posts from May, 2014

Danger Man: The Battle of the Cameras

You'll notice I've side-stepped Colony Three. I will probably write about it at some point, but at this point I want to write about Danger Man as Danger Man, despite the unavoidable Prisoner overtones, caused in large part by my coming to that series first, & also my explicitly writing about Number 6 as John Drake. At some point I will also write about The Prisoner coming from a different viewpoint. Also, this is not a systematic commentary on Danger Man - I'm feeling free to select the episodes I like. The Battle of the Cameras feels quite different, for me, from the episodes where Drake is more-or-less obviously winding up (or being wound up) to resigning. It feels lighter, less spy-like. Perhaps it draws more on the sixties milieu of fascination with all things foreign, just then being opened up affordably to the unwashed masses. This Danger Man - perhaps, I watched them avidly as a child but have found them impossible to watch as an adult - feels more like a Sain

Danger Man: Yesterday's Enemies

If Don't Nail Him Yet relied heavily on an unspoken subtext of the agent's personal matters coming into play, this one hinges overtly on the workings of institutions - governments & even the spying game. Specifically, it's about what happens when an individual in an organisation is put out to grass for years & what happens when he becomes his own little outpost. In this episode the tension between Drake & his boss is explicit - he tells him he often overrates his abilities, after asking for a reassurance that a proper team to support him would be in place. This revisits the theme of Drake working in conditions that would lead anyone to get fairly terminally pissed off. It is also evident that Drake isn't the only one in that position - his contact in Beirut describes the difficulty of getting anything she needs, & this is contrasted with sledgehammer subtlety with the resources of the local police. There is a rather obvious moral here - you can only

Danger Man: Don't Nail Him Yet

I like this episode a lot, for its scenes & for the inside scoop on what Drake's life as an agent is actually like. Rationally, I know that the lives of secret agents must involve a high degree of acting. Stanislavski has nothing on agents' needs to think themselves into a role, & that is what we see Drake doing here. I find this strange connection between the worlds & espionage & the theatre, fascinating. Yet how much more difficult for a spy to maintain a role, often alone, & in circumstances far more threatening than those where the only opposition consists of the public & the critics. The circumstances that give rise to suspicion of Rawson are oddly exactly the same as the question I raised about Drake himself in my last post: the relative opulence of Drake's lifestyle would probably be more easily explained in reality by a lush salary, & presumably covered by some cover story. Rawson's cover story - that he has friends in antiques

Danger Man: Fair Exchange

I was prompted by a comment made by Mitchell on, when he was writing about the identity of the man in The Prisoner as actually being John Drake. He commented that for him Drake's resignation from the service was - words of the effect of - well on the cards for most of Danger Man as it approached its end. I hadn't thought of Danger Man like that before: it is only really when I worked through The Prisoner episodes recently, that I had made the connection between the two shows that explicit in my mind. I am aware that I have posted here on a few, carefully hand-picked to emphasise the John-Drake-as-Number-6 thing, but have largely ignored the numerous other episodes, so it's high time I got round to them. My posting here has actually worked out to be exactly the way I thought it would be - that it would come in spurts & that I would write multiple posts about one show before abruptly moving on to another show, usually without warning or conclusion. That

Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased): Never Trust a Ghost

Somewhere - I didn't make a note of where & of course I now can't find a single instance of this criticism online - I have read a criticism that Randall & Hopkirk didn't really make full use of the basic premise that one member of the firm was deceased, & so not subject to the usual limitations that we humans tend to have. Walking through walls, for one. Being a fly on the wall at your boss's appraisal for another. Those kind of things. Of course I now have no way of knowing whether these were the sort of things the reviewer referred to. The point of this is that in this episode, a murder is witnessed by Hopkirk, the murderer is convinced nobody saw him, & Hopkirk imposes on Randall to do something about it, in the middle of a date. This has set me thinking to what extent the show did actually use Hopkirk's deceased status, within the confines of the technology available at the time. I haven't watched the remake of R&H, but I feel that

The New Avengers: Angels of Death

Another episode in which the security of the establishment for which the Avengers work is shown up to be frankly non-existent. I didn't mean to but it seems I've unwittingly started this post by talking about the first major plot hole in this New Avengers episode (namely why nobody thought to keep tabs properly on these fifty agents to realise the pattern in these apparently natural deaths). I hope this doesn't give the impression that I don't like this episode, because I do, in fact I like it lots. This is not that unusual for this episode - lots of people do like it a lot, for all the things I like about it, but it seems a lot of people don't take to it at all. Reading those reviews, they tend not to like it for the very reasons I do! The first reason would have to be that this one is so *very* seventies. I commented before that the New Avengers, in trying to be up to the minute, in some ways seems more dated than The Avengers, because the latter show aimed

The New Avengers: Obsession

You would think the Avengers' lives would be dangerous enough without attracting obsession as well. My well-documented dislike of familiar actors comes into play here, so let's get it out of the way: I don't understand why Purdey is seeing Doyle out of the Professionals, & calling him Larry. It could provide a fictional background of how Doyle swapped sides after being mad as a box of frogs! Lewis Collins (who played Bodie in The Professionals also appears in this - they're both terrorists. Those who would try to see their casting in The Professionals somehow pre-empted in this episode of The New Avengers (for example in the comment about working together again) should resist the urge. They were not cast together originally on The Professionals, only one was, but his co-star was a friend & didn't have the necessary tension that Collins & Shaw's not-really-getting-on relationship gave. This episode raises all sorts of questions. How did Purdey go

The New Avengers: Hostage

I very nearly got distracted from my current orgy of New Avengers postings by the arrival of the box set of Man in a Suitcase. However I'm clearly going to have to internalise that series somewhat before I can post on it, especially as it seems to be the most neglected of sixties TV series. Instead, back to a very Avengers episode of the New Avengers, & the point at which I became convinced it was classic Avengers was the lines: 'Spellman...Where does he live?' 'North London...You won't believe it...It looks like a funfair.' Not a favourite of the fans, this one, but I find it interesting because of several elements. Quite a lot of the inner workings of the Avengers' organisation is exposed to view, & as in other Avengers episodes where that happens, is shown up to have really fairly lax security. I assume the Purdey-tied-up motif was meant to be kinky at the time; her (to them) absence shows what she actually means to Steed & Gambit. Na

The New Avengers: Sleeper

It is becoming apparent to me that some New Avengers are more classic Avengers than others. To Catch A Rat was on the less Avengers end of the scale - it would be difficult to think of anything more inspired by the original Avengers than this one. It's got everything - London cityscapes, deadly chemicals, empty cities, diabolical masterminds, terrible innuendo, a woman fighting, you name it. Episodes referenced would be The Hour That Never Was, & The Morning After. An Avengers theme that is revisited here yet is not often commented on is the ambivalence towards yet idolisation of 'science' & 'scientists' - both undifferentiated from any other scientists yet also frequently the route by which things go wrong, a view I commented on in my posts on the cybernauts Avengers episodes. Here the chemical that causes the sleep, called S95, is posited as a wonderful weapon yet is misused within a matter of hours. In Sleepers, technology is seen as something to

The New Avengers: To Catch A Rat

This is one of the few appearances Ian Hendry, the protagonist of series 1 of The Avengers, will make a welcome appearance on this blog. In fact, I'm delighted to have found such a silly photo of him online, that no amount of screen caps could make up for missing that photo. The problem with this episode is, I so want to like this New Avengers,  it starts so atmospherically & the basic premise of its plot is so good. The things I like a lot: you can't go wrong with a circus scene, of *course* Steed's code name of the new doberman is abbreviated to 'the new d', the Avengers-style titles Purdey gives to Gambit's amorous adventures, & the scene in the church contrasted with the seventies technology. What I like absolutely best about this episode is how seventies it is - the technology, clothes & interiors are all absolutely perfect. The Cold War touches of the opening scenes place this episode firmly in the past for us now, so it is only right that

The New Avengers: Faces

Another New Avengers episode drawing heavily on ideas from one of the previous series, in this case the episode is They Keep Killing Steed, of series 6. Of course changes in appearance & persona are also experimented with in many other Avengers episodes - a summary & review of them may be found at The first thing to notice is...whoa, get those groovy seventies graphics. I was hoping to discover how/why the opening titles changed for this series 1 episode, only to find it was more complicated than I thought it was: 'This was first episode in production order to feature the new lion logo, animated title sequence and red background end credit 'lion' sequence. The new sequence was later edited on to most prints of the earlier episodes. However, the end credit sequences of these episodes would retain the old dark green logo against a lighter green background despite the substitution. There is a suggestion that all episodes

The New Avengers: Target!

The New Avengers seems to divide the fans, & I'd hate anyone to think that since I've only posted here on - I think - one episode, I'm not keen myself. I used to think that The New Avengers was best watched as a standard seventies detective series - very much like The Professionals - without reference to the original Avengers series. I have revised this opinion on re-watching the series a few times. Just for one example, ho Avengers is it to have a neo-Nazi gang disguised as monks kidnapping a doctor played by Peter Cushing to revivify their frozen leader, who is never named? Or another episode where an army of schoolgirls beat the baddies into submission? It is very difficult, seen like this, to see The New Avengers as anything other than the direct descendant of The Avengers. And I think Target is probably the episode that most makes me think of The Avengers, visually. It is very difficult to fail, using a disused hospital as a set, turned into an agents' tra

Peaky Blinders: My First Thoughts

I don't think I've properly defined the word 'cult' in the title of this blog - of course it really means 'whatever takes my fancy'. Recently Peaky Blinders has taken my fancy, although normally I don't do period dramas - as a complete pedant I'm always looking for faults. I so wanted to like this show, really I did, I've so tried to like it. Let's get the good bit out of the way before I tell you the - totally subjective - reason I can't watch this show. It is a meticulously researched, largely historically accurate rendering, based on a real gang that terrorised Birmingham from the last decades of the nineteenth century to the first decades of the twentieth. These were real people - the first picture is a picture of real peaky blinders, released by West Midlands Police. The series has spawned an incredible cult locally - there are peaky blinders & tours going on like nobody's business. It has also been heavily criticised