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Showing posts from June, 2014

Danger Man: The Man Who Wouldn't Talk

I don't usually do plot synopses - one of the reasons I started this blog is that the internet is heavy on description of classic TV shows & short on analysis, but I just feel a synopsis would be helpful here, so here is the one from IMDB: 'In Sophia, Bulgaria, a fellow agent has been picked up for interrogation, and Drake has to go in and get him out before he talks. Meridith (Norman Rosway) can only stand just so much, and upon arrival, Drake must act quickly. He is hampered at every turn by the secret police, as well as the attention of a young female interpreter (Jane Merrow) who has suspicions of her own about Drake's real motives. He manages to get to the roof of the police building and toss a gas cannister into the building's air intake vent, then breaks in, locates a groggy Meredith and hustles him outside to a waiting car. Playing cat-and-mouse wiith the police and his suspicious interpreter, he also has to deal with a delusional Meredith who still suffe

Doctor Who: Doctor Who & the Daleks

The film, that is, the critically-slated & never-mentioned film starring Peter Cushing as The Doctor. I've already blogged about the TV version of this show ( http://culttvblog.blogspot.com/2014/01/doctor-who-daleks.html?m=0 ) & on re-reading that post am delighted to find I liked it more than I thought I did. One of the things I notice about my Doctor Who posts is I don't seem to be able to get into the sort of relentless grinding detail in which Doctor Who is often discussed on the internet. I'm not sure why, I'll probably come to a reason at some point. But for the moment imy main feelings about this film both flies in the face of the fans' & critical opinion & is also very short: I think this film version is *better* than the TV version. <Ducks to avoid the cabbages thrown from the wings>. I found myself repeatedly thinking as I watched it, 'This is the filmic treatment that Doctor Who really needs.' Don't get me wrong - I&#

Doctor Who: The Talons of Weng Chiang, Episode 3

The trouble with creepy ventriloquist's dummies, is that they are susceptible to knives thrown at them. As an instrument of fear & terror, they fall flat. Like clowns, they are difficult to remove from their entertaining origins. This may be an entirely personal prejudice, but it was the creepy dummy that lost my engagement here. This episode otherwise has a full house of the conventions of frightening Victorian literature: mysterious cabinets, Chinese men, sewers, quality table linen, a mysterious Master, you name it. An additional kinky element is added by the lascivious way in which the Lord requires 'fresh young donors'. Perhaps I'm beginning to lose it completely, but I was disappointed to find, on my second viewing of this episode, that he did not say it in a Leslie Phillips voice! That is purely the product of my own deranged imagination. Tom Baker, though, in his incarnation as the Doctor, appearing in Victorian London, gets into Victorian gentleman role

Danger Man: To Our Best Friend

I was planning a post on the Rik Mayall series Bottom. On balance I'm not sure I would call it cult TV, but nonetheless would recommend it as a jolly good view. I remain to decide on whether to post on Filthy, Rich & Catflap, which nonetheless I would highly recommend as a memorial to Rik Mayall. Meanwhile, back to Danger Man. Oh *how* I love this episode: it is a proper Cold War spy intrigue piece. The plot is relatively simple on the surface: Drake goes on a mission, finds the spy for the Other Side, job done. But it is plainly not that simple on any level. For a start it is evident that not only are spies from Russia present in London, but have even infiltrated into government! That opening scene reminds me of a sscene in The Professionals where Cowley is meeting with Russian agents, playing a gme of intelligence chess with them, to the great annoyance of Bodie & Doyle. It is very plain that the two sides are not completely divided, or even differentiated. I'm qui

The Young Ones: Nasty

I will definitely be returning to Danger Man at some point, if not necessarily in the near future. I am rather less sure that I shall actually finish the episode-by-episode blog I started on the Doctor Who. I got distracted from both of these by the early death of Rik Mayall, which it seems trite to call 'tragic'. I mean, Nigel Planer's tribute to him was, 'He's left me on my own, the bastard.' I was thinking I couldn't really post here on The Young Ones, but when I look at the TV starring Mayall that I have in the house (in addition, Bottom, & Filthy, Rich, & Catflap), TV doesn't come much more cult than this. I was too young to watch The Young Ones, but I remember it as the one of the formative experiences of my childhood, so I must have managed to watch it somehow. Perhaps I wasn't really too young, but perhaps Mother disapproved - a ridiculous act in itself, guaranteed to ensure that any nearly-teenager will want to view the material di

Danger Man: You're Not in Any Trouble, Are You?

I've skipped over Parallel Lines Do Meet, although its opening beach scene has had me craving the sun so much, rather than our present thundery weather here, that I shall probably return to it. The reason for my jump to this one is it has made me think of the most persuasive evidence I have seen so far that Drake is *not* Number Six. It isn't really in this episode, as such, so perhaps I'd better come clean. I have an addiction. I have sufficient addiction thinking that I'm incredibly proud of it. It is to tobacco. I'm young enough that (in Britain at least) the kind of smoking shown in the opening scene of this episode - lighting up in an enclosed public place - would not have been illegal in Britain for some at least of the time I was smoking, but you'd have been asked to leave. I'm also old enough to remember my dad smoking in a department store & being asked to stop for the reason that it would set the sprinklers off, rather than any other reason.

Doctor Who: The Talons of Weng Chiang, Episode 2

I raised lots of questions about this Doctor Who adventure at the end of my last post about it - some of them were even meant seriously. Reading them now, it strikes me that my questions make ridiculous the confrontation with the world's largest rat that begins this episode. The Doctor & Leela act their fear admirably; the enlarged rat would be truly terrifying if it existed. But this is Doctor Who - the implausible is meat & drink. The giant rat gives way to two straightforward scenes of detection & Victorian London life, which I like hugely. I'll say it again: anything set in smoggy Victorian London is on to a winner. The anachronism of Chang's flashing eyes as a method of hypnosis is what makes it a Doctor Who - my only query would be why the Doctor himself has to use more conventional means later in the programme. Although... But... To me this doesn't feel like a Doctor Who. It feels like a Sapphire & Steel. It's taken me for ever to work out why

Danger Man: The Mirror's New

A totally - I suppose unexpected would be the word to describe it - beginning to this Danger Man episode. A scene of archetypal luxury, with a man apparently listening to music from a record player. This scene then opens out to show another man reclining on a bed behind the chair. Once again, all the trappings of luxury - the drapes & the fur on the bed. The music provides the ideal climactic background to the man on the bed shooting the man (to whom he owes money) on the chair, after playing cat & mouse with him for some little time. He leaves the apartment & goes to a car, dropping a scarf on the steps, which he slips on as he returns, managing to get back in the apartment but knocking himself out. How to read this opening in symbolic terms? It could *almost* have a hint of homosexuality about it. Whatever, the man on the bed is plainly louche, a roue, a playboy. He's got it written all over him. It's written all over his flat. His flat is a studio flat, is cle

Doctor Who: The Talons of Weng Chiang Episode 1

I have a somewhat ambivalent relationship with Dr Who. I've watched a lot of it over the years - the doctors when I was growing up were Tom Baker & Peter Davison. I've watched a lot of David Tennant, some Matt Smith & all off Christopher Eccleston. I *must* have seen Colin Baker episodes, but have no recollection of them now. Considering I've watched quite a lot of the canon Doctor Who seems to have made relatively little impression on me, I'm certainly not a massive fan in the way I would be a fan of The Avengers, & I can't think why. I remember liking a lot of the Who I've watched. I was surprised to watch some early episodes (blogged about here) & really not be impressed by them. Unimpressed to the extent that I did not buy the Lost in Time boxset of remnants when I saw it in Cex; I would never be a Who completist but I have all existing episodes of The Avengers. I also recently bought Ghost Light, having looked at it in the BBC shop & t

Danger Man: Whatever Happened to George Foster?

This post is having the greatest difficulty seeing the light of day: I would like to blame it on an IT problem, but in reality it's been a me being silly with IT problem. At this point we are approaching halfway through the region 2 box set of longer Danger Man episodes, & I feel this is where the series really gets into its stride. Despite the years it's already been going on, I feel Drake or McGoohan develops a new reassurance in the role, the storiess have a new reassurance: it's as if everything is just falling into place. It's strange, since on the surface this one starts like an episode I wouldn't like of sixties drama: all manana & revolution in Latin America. However straight after the titles it gets into its stride as a Britain-based story of high society corruption. Yet I feel that doesn't begin to describe this episode: it is literally polished on all levels, plot & subplots work together in an engineered way, characterisation is excell

Danger Man: The Ubiquitous Mr Lovegrove

One of the things I was hoping to happen, when I started blogging about old tv programmes, was that the process would make me think more deeply than is usual about the TV programmes I watch. Television is a terribly seductive medium: it sits in the corner of the room & the remarkable thing is for the most part people pay it no attention at all! Over the past decades it has spread, often into every room in the house, & is on pretty much all the time. Personally I think this is to do it a disservice. I only watch what I want - exclusively either on the internet or DVD. I personally never watch TV when it is actually scheduled. By a focussed attention you begin to realise a lot of the little subliminal tricks that go on, in advertising & so on, when you do watch it. You notice how the images are manipulated. Much of the information that enters our heads is unbidden & designed to work on us insidiously. To turn off from this is to become automatically eccentric, but also