Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Time as Treated in Some 1970s TV Series

I recently took a leap in the dark and bought the box set of Timeslip, a show I've never really fancied on the basis of its reviews on the internet. Part of the reason for that is that I like my vintage TV to reflect the contemporary world and I have a preference for series beginning in the sixties up to the end of the seventies. Naturally I make arbitrary exceptions to this rule when it suits me. One of the things about mainly sticking with one period of television is that I become familiar with the conventions of the time, and thus it becomes comfort TV.
The world view I find myself banging on about here is the contemporary 'modern 'reverse one of hope in the scientific future, frequently combined with warnings of what could happen in the event that the burgeoning technology gets into the hands of a diabolical mastermind. I am currently in the midst of several shoes which treat time in different ways, so this post will be about several at once.
The first is The Changes, which I haven't watched to the end of yet and am not really in a position to come to a final judgement. The story goes that quite suddenly humans cannot tolerate being surrounded by any technology, so they begin trashing every gadget they can lay their hands on and the series is about the events thereafter for one girl. The Changes is serious quality television, a top-drawer version of the series Survivors, which is about what happens after a virus. This was a major preoccupation of the seventies, and ironically the house the girl lives in at the beginning is decorated in dead seventies fashion, with lots of natural wood and natural wall coverings. I remember a family friend's house being decorated like that, and thinking it very sophisticated. But what if it all comes to an end? ...was not a question I was asking myself at the time. Interestingly the series is contemporary enough to feature a Sikh family as major characters, and they deal with the crisis in true resourceful Sikh style.
I also haven't nearly watched to the end of Sergeant Cork, which readers will doubtless know is set in the nineteenth century. I don't really know but I get the impression there was a fad for Victorian things around this time. Neither have I watched to the end of Timeslip, which both goes into the past and into the future. You would think it would be safer to travel into the future than the past, but I think it's less safe, because you can only imagine what the future would be like.
In the case of Timeslip, the future is awful, resulting in attempts to stop the glimpsed future actually happening. Naturally the future as imagined was not as we actually experienced it in the 1990s, but still comes across as not a bad imagining of the future. Both Timeslip and The Changes are quality shows intended for children, but which are worthy of adult viewing.
Finally I have been watching a show which hasn't worn so well, so perhaps I should stress that it has a permanent place in my collection - Gerry Anderson's UFO. I have a terrible confession to make, which is that I have never got on very well with Gerry Anderson's TV series. I think this is for the unreasonable reason that I had a friend at school who was very much into them. He virtuously avoided sugar, didn't have one filling, and that fact did my head in. I was also irritated by the way Lady Penelope walked. Not the best of reasons, as you can see.
That said I suspect Anderson's output had a disadvantage for my generation. UFO, for example is set in 1980, and as that year approached the show appeared hopelessly optimistic. The future was plainly never going to be as it was shown. In retrospect it was a good go. The red hot dream of the scientific future personified, and of course UFO allows the viewer to dream that he wouldn't be in the part of the world ignorant of the reality of UFOs.
The show manages to appeal on many levels, although probably most to the adolescent boys who would have been the audience of Anderson's other shows. Episodes touch on complex emotional issues including bereavement, so that the show is not merely dealing with sci-fi and gadgetry. I love the buttons in Straker's office to pour various drinks. Where it falls down is probably in the fashions designed by Sylvia Anderson. Synthetic fibres and purple hair abound and perhaps the strangest ones are the string uniforms. To wade into the debate on the internet: the men plainly don't wear anything underneath and the women plainly do! This is another illustration that this show isn't as successful as it could be, because people get distracted into talking about the bizarre uniforms,
As is my policy, all of the shows I write about here are worth watching in my opinion, but the different treatments of the present, past and future mean they are quite different and some have worn better than others.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Cybermen/Cybernauts with Reference to Doctor Who! The Moonbase

I have been watching The Moonbase, and I'm liking it very much. Not for the first time it has made me ponder that Cybermen appear in Doctor Who, and Cybernauts appear in The Avengers.
Cyber of course indicates that something pertains to the world of computers, information technology and, nowadays, virtual reality. Much of this was a fond dream in the 1960s but the appearance of this word reflects the contemporary enthusiasm for the brave new world of science, an enthusiasm I have written about here frequently. I have also written about the corresponding fear of what happens when technology gets out of hand, which is of course present in the depiction of both Cybermen and Cybernauts. I had wondered before whether anyone else had made a connection between these two monsters, and of course fandom didn't fail me, see for example here. That link also kindly did my homework for me and revealed that the Cybernauts were first broadcast a full year before the Cybermen made their first appearance in The Tenth Planet in 1966. It also ponders the similarity of the two monsters' chopping motion, which I had made myself, but doesn't follow the connection round full circle to The Avengers. I would like to think that this Who, where the sugar in the coffee is a problem, was influential on the sixth series Avengers episode, False Witness, where the milk in the coffee is the source of the trouble. The Cybernauts look more like the Cybermen in the latter's first appearance than subsequent ones and I see that tellingly the working title for The Moonbase was either The Cybermen or Return of the Cybermen.
I'm afraid I have been forced to come to the conclusion that these coincidences are where the similarities end: the two enemies were dreamt up in the same historical time. It is also clear that the Cybermen are not quite the invention of a single mad genius, although they are sometimes attributed to human invention. The space and time setting of Doctor Who provides a very different setting to the class-bound world of the Avengers, and if you want to read about the Cybernauts interpreted in terms of the British class system, you can read about it here, which page I must also credit for the image above.
I have to confess to a personal bias in these restored Dr Who episodes: my personal preference is for the soundtrack to be put to existing screenshots or even drawn still pictures. This is in no way a criticism of the monumental effort which obviously goes into recreating the missing episodes.
I like The Moonbase a lot. It's a taut story by the standards of many Who adventures of this time, exactly the right length. At this length of time I don't find it frightening, but probably would have done fifty years ago. The DVD has a commentary track and some extras which will help the viewer along.
The Moonbase has a great strength, which is unfortunately also the only weakness I can think of. The sets and Cybermen''s costumes are very effective. This means that the humans' costumes aren't so effective and the base's staff uniforms consist of white T-shirts. On the other hand this makes a clear distinction between the humans and aliens, makes the possibility of actually living on a moon base seem more attainable for the normal person.
Ultimately the point of this Dr Who is exactly the same as that of the Avengers episodes about the Cybernauts: it is that technology can be dangerous and ultimately we are superior to machines. After all we can't be dissolved with nail varnish remover. Because obviously you would need that on a moon base. Oh, and my absolute favourite bit is where Polly asks the doctor if he really is a medical doctor and he says he took his degree in Glasgow in 1888.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Target: Shipment

I try not to do much in the way of description here, because there's a lot of that about on the internet. In the case of Target there isn't any, so here we go.
Hackett arranges a sting because he is informed a strong van is going to be raised. It doesn't happen but he finds his informant has been murdered in his own car. Hackett immediately suspects Maynard, a local respectable luminary of being behind this, and confronts him at the golf club. After twists, threats and intimidation, and much police footwork, the truth about what is happening on the ship, is revealed. I love the glee with which Hackett confronts Maynard at the end.
I commented before that the cars in this show are gorgeous. Hackett is given a mark 3 Ford Cortina to drive after the murder in his original car, a more recent Ford. The flares are also quite something.
Apart from the cars what most strikes me about this show is how old fashioned the police's office looks. The clattering of typewriters dominates everything, and I know this is slightly ridiculous but that really struck me in comparison to modern offices. In addition to the settings on dry land there are also scenes on ships. Again I suspect that things are very different behind the scenes on ships these days. Hackett is quite antagonistic to the chief petty officer, played to sinister effect by (I think) Jack May.
Hackett comes across as a frankly acerbic and rather unlikeable character. I rather like that myself, I don't think you could do his job and not be embittered. Having blithely said there was an absence of sex in this show, of course there is some in this episode. Hackett pursues women in the kind of way you would expect of the protagonist of this kind of show. Unusually for the time Mower himself seems to be the main sex object, with a whole scene wearing only underpants. There is also a joke when he is handed his property from the car in which the murder took place, where he comments that the packet of three items for his own pleasure, are not his size! He does, however, come across as genuinely sympathetic to the murdered informer's widow.
Otherwise this episode of Target is open to the main criticism which can be levelled against the show: it's one-dimensional, violent, and I have seen it described as being like a boy's adventure comic of the time (here which is also my source for the gracious illustration to this post). Personally I don't mind that. Moral depth and philosophical hand-wringing would be out of place in this show, where the police are dealing with some really nasty pieces of work. And long diversions into the characters' love lives would slow it down.
So my verdict is that if you don't think you'll like this, you probably won't, but if you like this sort of thing you'll be in your element.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Target: First Impressions

It gives me great pleasure finally to be writing about Target here, and I'll just give my first impressions because the discs only arrived today and I'm rushing into print.
Target is one of those legendary series of UK television, legendary because nobody has seen it since it was broadcast. Legend has it it was the BBC's answer to the popularity of ITV shows like The Sweeney and The Professionals. It followed a similar formula and perhaps overdid the violence because after a record number of complaints it was pulled after only two series. Basically if you like the other shows you should like Target. I do.
The shows still exist and I have bought series 1 from here. If you send the guy an email he invoices you by email and you pay by PayPal. What you get is three printed DVDs in cardboard sleeves. They have menus but otherwise there's nothing fancy and that's fine by me. Picture quality is acceptable in my opinion, but as usual don't expect HD from a show of this age.
The series uses the by then reliable formula of a particular specialist branch of the police, in this case the Regional Crime Squad of Southampton. It uses the familiar device of the genre of being hard as nails, with some quite graphic violence for the time. When I have written about 1970s shows in the past, I have written about the corrupt reputation of the police of the time, and Target has made me reflect that it's not really any surprise if the police leant on people too heavily when they were pretty much their own closed world. The world depicted in Target is tough all round and clearly creates the sort of environment where police can round up six random Irishmen for the events of 21st November 1974. This is not so much a procedural as a get-by-however-you-can.
At this length of time Target is a visual delight. Those of us who remember the seventies as happy times will reminisce and yet laugh at the same time. The cars are wonderful, the clothes are ridiculous, you can smell the cigarette smoke.
I have just one criticism which is only in light of the comparison with similar shows. The others all rely on two lead characters, and the tension between them. Target makes the mistake of having four people in the team which makes the lead a bit diffused, but in practice Patrick Mower tends to be the strongest character. I'm not sure if that was how it was meant to be - reliable evidence about this show is almost entirely lacking. The actors include a lot of familiar faces in the manner of the time.
It also has doms surprises. I have only just started watching but I am surprised by an almost complete absence of sex in a show of this time. The word that comes to mind is businesslike. I suspect this may touch on the BBC/ITV division, where the BBC was worthy and independent TV was frivolous - exactly the issue in my recent Danger Man post about pirate radio. Target feels more like a worthy drama than the entertainment provided by the Other Side. However this is a personal impression obviously.
But the absolute best thing about Target is the theme, so I'll finish with that:

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Danger Man: The Ubiquitous Mister Lovegrove

I have been prompted to watch this episode by a new comment posted on my original post on this episode. It has been some time since I have watched many Danger Man episodes and have also not watched through The Prisoner lately so wanted to revisit what I thought before.
When I started this blog I had an ongoing fear that I would find I had blogged about all the interesting shows and run out of things to say. This no longer frightens me because I now realise that good TV can be watched repeatedly and bring different things to mind.
In my first post I decided to take the view that this episode was a true precursor of The Prisoner. This time round the episode has made me think differently, purely because of the opening scene of the car crash. It is evident that Drake of course works for an organisation. And this has taken my train of thought two ways.
The first is that the opening scenes remind me of the Avengers episode, The Hour That Never Was. Visually they are incredibly similar. My mind is therefore already moving towards the sixties trend for all things spying and the other sixties trend of spoofing the world of spying and the contemporary cold war.
The other way my mind has wandered is towards James Bond: most evidently the idea is explicitly planted by an actual Bond novel appearing. Obviously Drake will never be the same sort of person as Bond but it seems to me that in this one he looks the most like Bond he ever does, and inhabits a fantasy version of Bond's world. The casino and fight scenes are particularly Bondian.
The other thing in the sixties psyche which I didn't think about the last time I wrote about this one was drugs. I wouldn't go to the stake for this view, you must understand, because unless Drake was already intoxicated when he crashed the car, or was drugged while unconscious, there is no apparent opportunity to drug him. That said, the events of the episode have a distinctly trippy feel about them.
Further, there is a theme underlying of being discovered, uncovered, etc, even if by mistake, and as a result being ruined. If this is a trip, it is definitely a bad trip, but also draws on a common fear or nightmare. This is a dramatisation of that dream people have where they are naked in the street, only with the addition of the other common fear of mistaken identity.
My favourite line: 'Thanks, but I feel a lot safer with you as an enemy'. I like the scenes of Drake at home in this episode.
I regret that the TV minus 50 blog is no longer being updated, and I owe the illustration and some ideas for this post to it.
Of course you can tell where I'm forced to go with this can't you? I was going to say something about the fact a show can be understood so many different ways indicates that it's quality. But that's what I always think about The Prisoner so I've fenced myself into a corner!

Friday, 9 November 2018

Freewheelers: Series One

The only series of this show currently commercially available is series 6, which I have written about here before. I see from IMDB that this show was not only very go-ahead at the time, apparently being the first time in the UK that a boat was set up as an Outside Broadcast Unit, but also suffered from the junking common at the time. Apparently the only reason it survives at all was because the material chanced to be kept by the series film editor.
The upshot is that apparently what I have is a reproduction of this single copy. You can buy it off the internet as I did myself. The only thing I would say is that I have decided I am not going to name (and thus advertise) the vendor for one reason. I was impressed with the speed at which they rushed the order round here, sending me emails all the way to let me know what was happening. So customer service is great.
The discs came to around £15 which I suppose would be a shop price for many box sets, and in this case I don't mind paying it for a rare series which has obviously taken work on somebody's part to bring out on DVD. The problem with the discs is that the box contains the phrase 'digitally remastered', and those words are the reason I won't be advertising the company because they give the wrong impression. I will grant you that technically making a digital master of an analogue recording means just that and doesn't necessarily mean altering the sound or picture at all, which is probably exactly what's happened. But in 2018 most people viewing a digitally remastered TV series from the 1960s will expect it to look more like one of the other remastered series - the Avengers for example- that we've become used to.
There are some very damning reviews of these discs on Amazon, which I disagree with. The writers have expected to get a radically cleaned-up series, but these shows definitely show their patchy pedigree. The picture tends to darkness, with lines across most of it. Other faults in the analogue tape are clearly visible and the episodes tend to abrupt jumps, with bits around the titles missing. I have no doubt that these tapes must have been in a state which required considerable work to get them to where they are, but cannot match up to commercial releases. The sound is mainly good, but rather quiet and tends to be rather inconsistent. In my opinion they are perfectly watchable and while the discs do include a disclaimer about the quality of the recorded material they would have been better to leave off the statement that they are digitally remastered.
That's enough about the discs, the programme itself was intended to be an adventure series in the vein of The Avengers, and without wanting to over-egg the cake, I really think it is worthy of this comparison. That's right, you just heard me say that.
When I wrote about series 6 I was thinking about young people's hero worship of slightly older people. The dynamic is a bit different in series 1 because the youngsters are terribly grown up and the adult characters quite a bit older. The theme of the youngsters being taken on by the professional secret service against a diabolical mastermind (which was the original point) emerges loud and clear. That this was intended for young people is shown in the fact that many of the adults are corrupt, insane, stupid, or otherwise hopeless!
I love the idea of the baddy, Von Gelb, who wants to 'reverse the effects of the last war'. He's just threatening enough to be frightening, and his ideas are ridiculous enough to maintain an aura of unreality. In this the series is a worthy inheritor of the unreality thing found in The Avengers. I realise that again this will sound like very high praise, and it is.
The world inhabited by the freewheelers is otherwise the real world, just with opportunities not afforded to everyone. Possibly in the 1960s it was possible to trespass on a naval base by climbing over the fence, but I'm sure few managed it. The unreality is therefore also in the nature of the youngsters' escapades.
The pace of the show is quite different from The Avengers. Story lines carry on through episodes so that it wouldn't really be possible to watch an episode in isolation.
I think my favourite thing is that, fitting with the baddies Nazi sympathies, much of the incidental music is by Wagner.
Oh - the illustration is an actual screen cap off my laptop.

Doctor Who: The Smugglers Episode Two

I'm afraid this post will be rather derivative, since I looked online and found that everyone else has already thought and published the thoughts I had myself!
What is all my own thought, though, is a growing distaste at the idea of time travel. I'm actually no great traveller at, although it's the actual travelling I dislike rather than the being in different places. This episode makes very clear how dangerous time travel is and how much you could feel trapped. Nobody will believe the truth about your situation and you will be permanently an alien in the place and time you travel to. A humorous point is perhaps rather overdone about this in the way the other characters consistently mistake Polly for a boy, because of her sixties-era trousers and cap:
In a further touch of panto, Polly is mistaken for a lad throughout. The joke’s on her for wearing 1960s slacks and a Bob Dylan cap, but the notion that any lusty seadog wouldn’t immediately clock luscious Anneke Wills in her long eyelashes is hard to swallow. Source
There is also the fear in this episode of getting involved in the arguments of another age. The Radio Times article linked above expresses the point (better than I did in my last post) that this adventure is different from other Who historical adventures because it is concerned with relatively pedestrian events rather than 'great' historical events. Rather, it references a whole swashbuckling genre of literature:
It’s a departure from foregoing history stories. The Doctor isn’t delving into ancient civilisations or witnessing turbulent events. There’s no attempt to educate or struggle to lampoon. The Smugglers (which could just as easily be called The Pirates) is happy to be a rollicking yarn, only the second set in Britain’s past and one borrowing shamelessly from literary sources. A swig of Treasure Island, a tot of Jamaica Inn and lashings of Peter Pan. For Captain Samuel Pike, read Captain James Hook. It’s a wonder JM Barrie’s estate didn’t complain. (Same source ut supra)
I even find that the Radio Times article has commented on how effective Ben and Polly are as a partnership. Meanwhile the doctor is off on his own pretending to be a government official investigating the smuggling.
In fact I'm just going to abandon even trying to write something myself and just finish by quoting a Radio Times interview with Anneke Wills, because it is so redolent of the age of television I like so much:
In 1966 she joined Doctor Who as posh totty Polly. Though she loved the job, “working with Bill Hartnell wasn’t easy. He got bad-tempered and kept losing the plot. If he couldn’t remember a line, he’d blame you for it. He was into all sorts of trickery by then.”
The old guard soon moved on: “I remember the meeting in rehearsals between Patrick [Troughton] and Bill, and Patrick being suitably humble and Bill being rather chuffed that someone like Patrick was taking over.” Happy days: “Our table at the BBC bar was where everyone wanted to be. Patrick would be discussing politics and people were drawn around him like a magnet. We’d be giggling all afternoon. At the same time we were focused and got a lot of work done.” Source, and the rest of the interview is also fascinating.

Steed's Library: Spotted Again

I have rather got out of the habit of posting my sightings of the books from John Steed's flat in Stable Mews. I suppose I have got used to the idea that this set of distinctive leather-bound books would keep appearing all over the place in sixties TV (and it's not only the books, props reappear all over the place in The Avengers, and recently I have read about props being used in both The Prisoner and Randall and Hopkirk Deceased). I have got so used to seeing them, that recently it took me aback to see Steed hiding behind his books when pretending to be under the influence of a powerful hallucinogen and chased by a murderous fake nanny who is a diabolical mastermind. Of course the episode could only be Something Nasty in the Nursery.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Doctor Who: The Smugglers Episode One

Of course this is not the first time I have blogged about TV which no longer exists (my series of posts on series 1 of The Avengers will be continued at some point in the future). This First Doctor adventure still exists as a soundtrack, some bits which survive and telesnaps. I have never got on well with audio issues of programmes which were intended for TV, so what I am writing about here is the wonderful Loose Cannon reconstruction of this adventure, which I won't link directly because it is readily available on their Daily Motion channel.
Normally I wouldn't get on very well with this adventure, simply because historical dramas never do it for me. That is even usually the case for Dr Who, but the historical setting doesn't put me off.
I was recently in a shop buying a Dr Who when the man behind me started telling me that Who has never been the same since it went into colour.
He's wrong, in my opinion. Two things which marked sea changes in the show were the first regeneration and the show losing its original educational purpose. This one shows the history to great educational effect - what it would have actually been like to be there - and because it's a first doctor we haven't had a regeneration and I think this means he hasn't confirmed his strangeness for the viewer.
Nor is the adventure particularly strange. The change in time and scene is a change from Swinging London in The War Machines. I suspect you will either like this fact or won't. It means the usual science preoccupation of 1960s TV is completely absent.
I had forgotten how these early ones have the elderly doctor accompanied by such young companions. Polly and Ben provide wonderful contrast from the prickly doctor.
This first episode does a wonderful job of establishing the village with its shady smugglers. It's a much more scary place than the big city depicted in The War Machines. The actors all portray their parts effectively.
Let me end with a contemporary cutting from the Radio Times:

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Danger Man! Not So Jolly Roger

I was sure I had blogged about this, but if I have I can't find it. This is the last black and white Danger Man episode and it's a stunner.
For a start the human chameleon John Drake becomes the cool DJ Johnny Drake, or JD. How cool is that?
For another the setting is about as groovy as you could want. At the time we didn't have many licensed radio stations in the UK and the inability of the BBC stations to cater to the audience for pop music led to a proliferation of pirate radio stations. Naturally pirate radio continues, but the setting places the episode firmly in the latest trends in 1960s Britain.
Many of these stations were based off shore to take advantage of a legal loophole, but this Danger Man sets Radio Jolly Roger on the Red Sands Sea Forts in the Thames estuary. They are still there and an internet search demonstrates loads of nostalgia for their time as several pirate radio stations. That's right, the uber-cool Danger Man series recorded an episode on location at a genuine pirate radio station, Radio 390. You can see contemporary pictures of its use as a radio station here and hereThis page shows more of the workings of the pirate station.
So to be honest it would be a bit difficult for this Danger Man to go wrong. One of the things I like best at fifty years' remove is the sight of a radio station which now seems so old-fashioned, dependant as it was on analogue media.
If I have a criticism it is that once Drake arrives at the sea fort it is fairly obvious what is going on. I have another criticism which is the bizarre choice of the Blue Danube Waltz to signal that they are signalling. It is completely off genre from the other music. If you like the records played on the radio station, you can find details of them here.
So despite a predictable plot, this episode of Danger Man makes up with sheer sixties chic.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Some Grown Ups' and Some Children's Programmes, and my Christmas Present to Myself

I have been trying to find a suitable TV Christmas present for myself and as a result have hit the wall I do on and off, when it feels as if the supply of classic TV which I will actually like,has dried up. Of course the key problem here is actually my picky taste in TV shows. So of course I have been watching stuff relevant to this blog, and will use this post to talk about a few things which I won't be writing a whole blog post about.
The sixties are the setting for a lot of the TV I watch, and were also the setting for the sexual revolution. Not TV, but a classic film of the time is Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush, in which Barry Evans's character tries, and eventually manages, to lose his virginity. Teen sexual angst aside, the film is so redolent of the sixties that it is a classic. Evans also stars as a randy taxi driver in Adventures of a Taxi Driver, available in a boxed set with other Adventures... films, if you like that sort of thing (I do).
Personally I didn't take to Mind Your Language, so Evans started off at a disadvantage in my mind. I didn't realise that he was one of those actors who get typecast, and ironically he ended up working as a taxi driver at the time of his suspicious and never-explained death.
I have been watching Man of the World, and it just isn't clicking with me (remember if a show appears here I don't think it's a complete did at least). Nor do the rest of the ITC stable provide any likely candidates for my Christmas present. None of them really endears themselves to me, apart from the ones I have already written about here.
Nigel Kneale. Now there's a name to make the classic TV world stand to attention. I am tempted by the disc which is out of his 1980s follow up to Quatermass. My next pet will be called Quatermass. I have been dipping into Beasts (whisper it - there are episodes on YouTube), but criticising Kneale is like saying Shakespeare wasn't on top form that day. He was of course also responsible for The Year of the Sex Olympics, which I intend to blog about one day - just again with trepidation because it's another of the greats.
Nor do I have that much luck with old children's TV. Bizarrely, considering I had a seventies childhood myself and have grown up to have an appetite for any amount of weird shit, I tend to be put off by the magical content of children's TV of this time. I have been dipping into Sky, although I'm ashamed to say I have been letting it wash over me. Similarly I have been dipping into Ace of Wands again and honestly can't think why it doesn't click with me. I get on better with adventurous children's TV of the time, and have watched The Doombolt Chase with much enjoyment.
I have also had some difficulty finding new things online. I am delighted to announce that I no longer have an Amazon account, so only use them to see the recommendations based on visitor views. Sorry, Network DVD but I liked the facility you used to have on your website to see things in order of release, so that I could see what was new or coming out.
I have therefore bitten the bullet and used one of these websites which sell unofficial copies of TV shows. I have ordered series 1 of Freewheelers for much less than it is sold for on Amazon. If the firm comes up with the goods you will see them plugged here. This show may not turn out to be my actual Christmas present as they have other things I'm interested in, and another site has the series Target, which I've wanted to watch for ever.
What is for Christmas is the book I've ordered today (admittedly she is an acquired taste) - Nancy Spain's Cinderella Goes to the Morgue...

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

The Sentimental Agent: Meet my Son, Henry.

I wasn't going to write about this show, because I found it difficult to phrase what I wanted to say, but I think this episode may provide the right medium.
Not a favourite in the cult TV world, this one. On the face of it this is hard to understand, but this show manages both to be classic ITC viewing and have what will be for some viewers some major defects. Perhaps I had better say that its main claim to fame is as the first TV appearance of Diana Right.
The opening sequence encapsulates this perfectly. The Aston Martin. The cigarette holder. The sophisticated places. So far we're in familiar territory for our sort of TV. But, oh dear, the theme tune. It's not hummable but gets into your head and does not give the lounge lizard impression we want for a cult TV series.
This episode starts with a daring robbery of top secret plans from a Space Development Corporation. Thus far the show is easy to interpret: the corporation represents modernity. Their building is modern, at least for the time. It is a pity that its softwood windows will now have rotted and it will have been a nightmare of asbestos to demolish. The building and show are of their time. This opening sequence is a rare location shot for the show. It is not therefore completely studio-bound, but does make heavy use of stock footage in the manner of the time. It is very obvious where the joins come, and as usual this is not a criticism, just a statement. The street scenes are wonderfully redolent of a long-gone London.
There are two whacking great plot holes, first that the baddies can just drive into the place and steal the plans. They then have a foolproof way of passing the plans on, which of course goes horribly wrong. That said, while some may see this as a plot defect, there is a playful sense to the plot by which Henry makes nonsense of the baddies' plans and complicates it further by putting a different dust jacket on the book.
And so we come to Carlos Thomson, the star of the show, who is its real problem - by his absence from many of the episodes. The legend on the internet is that he had to pull out because his English wasn't really good enough to cope with his lines. This is a pity, because the show can appear rather focusless. The Oriental manservant is a device which had been overdone even by this time. Oh dear, I'm getting a bit catty about the show and I didn't mean to.
I feel the viewer will either like or loathe the titular son of this episode. He has an IQ in the 200s and isn't ashamed to show what he knows. He proves surprisingly useful in this episode.
One of the joys of these shows is the cars and this one is no exception. There is a sighting of a really old black cab, which looks like a tank. Most of the cars are the latest models (a Rover is my favourite) with older cars in the background.
Visually this show is superb as an ITC show. It moves between the sophisticated venues of the privileged and the gang's lair. There is just one visual thing I find quite disorientating, which is that the hat Henry wears throughout the episode, including indoors, is the same sort as the hats worn by the villains. A mistake surely to make both sides look the same.
I don't want to seem negative about the show, since I think you'll like it if you like ITC, it just has some failings which you might not take to, not least the virtual absence of the lead character.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

The Avengers: The Gravediggers

I started a blog post on this episode last week but it became incredibly unwieldy so I have scratched the whole lot and will start again. I find that using voice activated software to type makes me even more verbose than usual so perhaps I'm better with bullet points. I do highly admire the way David Stimpson blogs about The Prisoner, though, with more short posts on particular points, although I'm not sure it would work with the way I blog.
1. This Avengers episode is the famous one with Mrs Peel strapped to the railway line. I start with this because I had forgotten it was this one. My main criticism of this episode is that what with the radar thing, the hospital, the undertakers and the railway, it is perhaps somewhat too packed with different images.
2. Apart from that scene the episode contains about every ingredient of an Avengers episode you could ever wish for: English eccentrics, wonderful visuals, deadly enemies... You name it.
3. The episode effectively 'Avengersifies' the espionage preoccupation of this era, and unites it with the attitude towards technology so prevalent in the TV of this era, where Progress is so often a great hope and yet fear.
4. The Dissolute website makes the point, which I hadn't even thought of, that this Avengers is very like an Ealing film, and in fact it is.
5. I simply refuse to believe that Steed would just help himself to a carnation for his buttonhole!
6. Anyone fancy being nursed by Mrs Peel? This may be the episode where she has the most conventional female roles - of nurse then damsel in distress. She pretends to be a nurse in The Master Minds but the role feels quite different.
7. The bondage scene pushed the bounds of the show's sexiness.
8. Sir Horace's hatred of railway closures in favour of road traffic, takes place against the real history of a drastic reduction of Britain's loss-making railways, which peaked in the 1960s and slowed down after 1970. These closures were associated with the name of Lord Breeching. Ironically the wealthy Sir Horace represents an uneconomical past of anachronistic technology, shown against the future technology of radar etc, so technically the future wins out in the episode.
9.The Footplate men's Friendly is also the sort of trade union (for a vanished trade) which has also vanished. There is a real sense in which this is a cosy Avengers, taking place in an unreal world which is reminiscent of a vanished Britain.
As I said above, my only criticism of this episode is that I think it tries to squeeze too much in. Otherwise it is a classic Avengers episode.

Friday, 21 September 2018

The Wilde Alliance: First Impressions with Specific Reference to A Game for Two Players

Last weekend I had an outing to Gloucester and bought the boxed set of this show in a charity shop. I had previously avoided it, and actively disliked the snippets I had seen on the internet. I obviously hadn't managed to see very much of it because I had completely missed the fact that Patrick Newell (surely everyone reading this will know that he played mother in The Avengers) is a regular character.
It is usually described as a detective serious about Rupert and Amy Wilde who have an extravagant lifestyle and also function as amateur Detectives. The series was broadcast in 1978. Continue my usual policy here, of minimising description on this blog, because I want to focus on one particular episode, first a few impressions.
My first impressions were awful! Through the first disc in the box the show really could not hold my attention at all, I thought it looked Bland, moved slowly, and the plots were lightweight. This last seems to be a fairly common criticism on the internet, so I think I am Justified in saying that. My opinion changed somewhat when I realised that I was reacting differently to this from other TV series of the 1970s. There has been no point in this series (where I have found myself thinking how unremittingly dreary the 1970s were). This fact alone Marx this out as unique amongst 1970s TV series, which when they weren't being consciously gritty usually aspires to intense tastelessness. So my impression towards the end of the first disc was that this of a cosy detective show. I think that is also wrong, since despite of the characters living a prosperous lifestyle they do seem to mix a lot with the demi-monde in pursuit of their investigations.
Perhaps I am summing up why this show has such a low profile in the cult TV world, it has some difficulty deciding what it is and thus tends not please anyone.
Note I want to focus on is called A Game for Two Players - I'm not entirely sure why and this title does not really seem to be related to the plot of the episode. With a teenage boy, Steve, hitchhiking his way to York and being picked up by Rupert Wilde. Readers will understand that this fact in itself takes us back at least 40 years. I have personally hitchhiked in my misspent youth, but I was about 20 at the time and well aware of the dangers. Young adults are one thing but a teenage boy hitchhiking is completely different. And of course it is therefore right at the Beginning that this episode begins to go off the rails. In the seventies, as now, if a responsible adult found a disconnected child like Steve is in this episode, there was only one place to take them, and that was to the police station.
You did not take them home where you would put them up for a couple of nights, buy them new clothes, and allow your wife to become obsessed with the child. No. This is all quite wrong.
In the episode it allows a site into the Demi mondaine world of York. Have you been there? Some friends of mine moved there from the frightening metropolis of Wolverhampton and were very surprised to find that at 5 every evening, everything shuts. They attributed this to it being a walled city and the psychological effect that that had. Anyway, rupert delves into the underworld of York to try to find this child's mother, without bothering to ring the police to find out if this child's mother was missing him, or whether the tale he told was true. I don't want  to put spoilers on this so I won't go to too much detail about how  the story resolves itself. Suffice to say, of course Steve has the background which does end up with a child hitchhiking way to try to find his lost mother. The only Major plot hole this one is that fairly obvious that Steve's family are never going to be full or comfortable enough actually to look after him in any meaningful way.
This picture of the Wildes dressing this boy in New Clothes while also bizarrely trying to return him to his somehow unavailable mother, is not exactly presented as a moral Crusade, but is set against another thread of the story, since living in the apartment building of the Wildes is the character played by Patrick Newell, who is a pornographer!
Frankly it is worth buying this entire series just to watch newells performance in this episode. Imagine Mother certainly turning into an old man and being suggestive! No, seriously, pause for a moment and imagine Mother saying the lewdest thing you can imagine. That is what he is like in this episode! And now you see why I think it's worth buying, despite the fact I'm being catty about it. He is also a quite frankly incredible dirty old man because at the beginning of the episode he asks Amy Wilde to work for him as a chaperone for a young boy who is star in one of his porn films but who is too young to travel on his own. The clear implication is that the boy will be under age, but she Mary threatens him with whistleblowing, in the manner of the time, rather than actually doing anything about it. In fact in their attempts to find Steve's mother, the wyldes actually ask him for help.
Perhaps the biggest irony of this episode is that I am not sure that Steve would actually have been safer in the environment it turns out he has escaped from, than being adopted in an impromptu manner buy the Wilds and living in a flat above a pornographer.
This episode hasn't caused me to change my original impression that this show is rather patchy: It has great characterisation, great consistent atmosphere, as a detective show it tends to be even more patchy and have huge holes in the plot. I will maintain though that it is worth buying the box set of this show merely to see Patrick Newell offering people parts in porn films.
I end with a photo I have found in the course of the extensive academic research which underlies this post: it is of Newell on the Benny Hill Show:
Same source as before

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

The Man from UNCLE: More Parodies

More than two years ago I posted about some sexploitation pulp novels spoofing the 'Man from...' theme of the TV series. Since then I have discovered that I not only managed to miss some of the later and more bizarre titles but I've found another parody series. So here goes:

Incidentally, who would have thought there would be Man from UNCLE chewing gum?
I see there was a film out in 1970 called The Man from ORGY:
Do I even need to say that the plot isn't great literature? Also Slappy White is a great pseudonym!
Protagonist Steve Victor (Robert Walker Jr.) is a spy and scientific investigator for the group Organization for the Rational Guidance of Youth (O.R.G.Y.). Victor is given a mission to determine the location of three prostitutes that are due US$15 million from their deceased female manager. Victor starts off the trail only knowing that the three women each have a tattoo on their buttocks of a gopher grinning. He is stymied in his efforts by hired assassins Luigi (Steve Rossi) and Vito (Slappy White). Luigi and Vito have an interest in the investigation because they provided financing for the burlesque business. Another prostitute Gina (Louisa Moritz) states her lack of interest in her owed portion of the monies as she does not wish her wealthy spouse to find out about her activities. Gina tells Victor some clues about how to locate the other two women, although Victor later discovers they are both deceased. Gina had murdered them for in actuality she wants the money. She kills Vito by thrusting a knife into him as he is planning on murdering Victor. Gina turns to kill Victor, but he first shoots the woman and she dies after falling from a window.Source
In the manner of the time this film also had a connected series of books:

 The feminist critic of the Man from UNCLE I've referred to here before would be thoroughly vindicated. Incidentally should you have a little stack of any of these books, don't give them to your teenage son to ensure his sexual relationships are all screwed up, keep them carefully because some of these books are going for $50 upward on Abebooks.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

The Avengers: The Superlative Seven

This weekend I have watched the House on Haunted Hill (1959) for only the second time in my life. I have had it saved on my hard drive for a number of years but haven't watched it again because I remember it as being rather inconclusive and unsatisfying. I have much preferred it the second time, for Reasons which are not entirely clear to me. It has however set me thinking about some possible connections with this Avengers episode.
The superlative seven it's another of those Avengers episodes which Tend To Be  written about fairly dismissively in the blogosphere. I have a feeling that this is because it is perceived to be a remake of the Cathy Gail era episode dressed to kill. And of course it is, or rather it is another episode which uses the same basic plot device off a number of people being called together and then being picked off by various methods.

Let me get of the way right at the beginning that I agree with the basic criticisms of this episode, and in fact do agree that dressed to kill is a superior treatment of the plot device. The superlative seven makes it overly complicated, and does away with the most basic elements of this plot, that the audience should not know who is behind the events depicted.
The plot device is of course extensively used in English literature, and perhaps the best known example is Agatha Christie's and then there were none. Of course Christie could be the Direct inspiration for this adventure, but I do feel that haunted Hill must have had a large hand in it, at least visually. I have considered whether this episode could also draw on the genre of old dark house literature, but feel that what makes this difference is the fact that the Adventurers are taken there by deception rather than ending up there on a stormy night, which is usually the premise in horror films.
The house to which the seven are taken bears a strong visual resemblance to the house on Haunted Hill, internally at least. There is also a visual device common to both the film and this Avengers, weapons being laid out for the participants. In the film they are laid out in a series of miniature coffins, well here they are laid out on the dining table. The miniature coffins containing the guns in the film, here become a line of full size coffins for the participants as they died. Visually I feel that the film is the natural source, and that this episode therefore cannot truly merely be a remake of dressed to kill.
Some elements in the superlative seven are taken more it from the Christie novel. The fact that the participants all received invitations from different people that they are unlikely to turn them down, is found both Christie and in both versions of The Avengers adventure. The superlative seven managers to be even closer to the Christie novel than dressed to kill, because it keeps the image of the strangers taken to a desert island with a dangerous Menace hanging over them.
8 weakness of this episodes plot is also what makes it an Avengers episode: The events of this episode what happened in the real world. In the real world if you were to lure 7 people to Almost certain death there would be an outcry from there relatives, particularly if they were the sort of public figures in this episode. The fact is that the events of this Avengers episode could only happen in the world of The Avengers! It is also made rather dissatisfying by the fact that we as viewers can see what is going on know what the participants are having to guess. In this this episode is in a great tradition off fairly cosy crime stories, where there might be a few murders on the way but we know that our enjoyment will be ensured by the ends being tied up at the end.
I have failed to comment on the great name actors who constitute the cast for this episode. This is a great compliment coming from me, because the fact that they are famous actors does not dominate the plot at all.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Fanny Cradock

Today a post which I wasn't sure would really fit the description of this blog, and this lady may not be that well known abroad. On reflection I don't see how I could have had any doubt, since the country's first celebrity chef, who cooked in evening dress in The Royal Albert Hall, was a serial bigamist, invented her own past, cooked food dyed blue and green to look like trees and all sorts of strange things, publicly roared at her common law husband and assistants, and entertained the nation with her cookery programmes... Well if that isn't Cult TV I don't know what it is!
I will try to stick to the TV I promise, and not get too caught up in her scandalous private life, but I must just say that Fanny Cradock with her husband Johnny was also the real person behind the character called 'Bon Viveur' who has a column in The Telegraph for years and years. I have found some reflections by her successor in the same role:
Trawling the Telegraph’s archives, I can’t get enough of forthright columns. Like me, she loved hotels and inns, including a number of the same ones, and she loved travelling. But she also cut to the chase and had a way with words and a bruising wit to which I can only aspire.
She pulled no punches on a trip to Winchester in 1950: "We slept in a mausoleum-like bedroom plunged in 25-watt Stygian gloom. The bed tapestry peeled, as did the ceiling. The straw bulged from the palliasse under our limp feather overlay. The dust was as thick as the breakfast tea, the chamber as chilly as our toast." She was no less kindly to the town itself: “England should pay more attention to this historic town which draws so many tourists. Its restaurants and hotels should, in their turn, pay more attention to Englishmen and tourists."
On the English Riviera, she resorts to capitals to vent her spleen: "I’VE FOUND SOME SCANDALOUS PLACES with lukewarm bathwater, insufficient toilet arrangements, annexe rooms devoid of bedside lighting…" The list of complaints goes on.
 The directness of her descriptive writing means that it is admirably unpretentious. How can I not love her, long to have met her, when she writes, in 1951, about my own beloved village, Beaulieu, in Hampshire: "The first crisp tang of spring has made last weekend notable. I have seen sunlight glinting on the Solent, stippling the tree-trunks in the New Forest and silvering Beaulieu River."
And when she is satisfied with a hotel, she makes her readers long to go, as every good critic should. Arriving late and unexpected at the Master Builder’s, close to my house, she reports: "'We can’t do much I’m afraid', said Mr Fry, who runs the hotel with his sister, 'but you’re welcome to what there is.' At 8,45, I sat down to hot gravy soup, beef steak and kidney pie, stewed fruit, custard, two vast slabs of cheese, all followed by good coffee, for 6s."
Reading that, and all Bon Viveur’s reviews, subtitled In Quest of Pleasure and illustrated with photographs and useful maps, it’s hard not to feel both deep nostalgia and deep regret for the crazy pace of life today. There’s irony though. Her evident enjoyment of plain English fare comes from the TV chef that espoused food colourings, piping bags and recipes like Jelly a la Zizi (layers of different coloured jelly) and Green Cheese Ice Cream. My mother only went so far with Fanny Cradock – she preferred Constance Spry and Elizabeth David.
 As it has done for me, the Telegraph gave Fanny and Johnnie the opportunity to travel offshore and her articles are credited with inspiring many readers to take their first tentative steps abroad. They went to Goa, Barbados, Corfu (‘In the Durrell Country’), Ibiza ("of all the Mediterranean coast this rates the highest with us for an unsophisticated holiday"), Spain, France, Italy, Scandinavia and many other places. Wherever she reported from, she had a knack of conjuring up the destination in a few well-chosen words, at the same time as giving straightforward practical advice. In 1952 she wrote ‘Two Weeks in Denmark on £25’ (£562.50 in today’s money) and 15 years later ‘Getting a Fortnight on the French Riviera out of £50’ (£830). At Reid’s Palace in Madeira, a hotel I loved when I reviewed it for its 125th anniversary in 2016, she usefully informed her readers in 1953: "Anyone able to spend more than £25 on a holiday can do so legally at Reid’s. As it is British owned, a Bank of England concession permits payment from foreign currency allowance for only part of your hotel bill. The balance is paid in sterling in England before departure." People may scoff, but all the travelling and hotel reviewing is actually hard work. "Bon Viveur", reads a footnote in 1951, "is taking a well-earned holiday after a strenuous but enjoyable year in the quest of pleasure on readers’ behalf." She was soon back in the fray, travelling to Majorca ("the nightlife, which I dutifully probed on your behalf, is in the open air…I danced to a good band for about an hour"), Denmark, Holland, Jersey, Portugal and the Tyrol. Source
 Something I am always banging on about here is the post-war aspiration to sophistication, which in the tv programmes we watch is usually embodied in foreign travel to the sophisticated places of the time. That said if you think about the Avengers, and think about Tara and Steve having dinner in a field accompanied by the obligatory champagne, aspirations to sophistication were no less embodied in the food of the time, and before Delia Smith, Fanny was the inspiration for the food. It is high time I stopped messing about and actually introduced you to her in person.
I couldn't resist starting with cooking in the Royal Albert Hall. By gas, of course. This is the earliest clip I have managed to find on YouTube and the snobby, acerbic personality is already there in its fullness. Nobody had better be rude about her, because you're talking about the woman I love!
I particular theme which recurs in her programmes of thinking of someone you don't like when you are beating something.
The video above is the one which I think best expresses her suitability for a TV blog, particularly this one, since the celebrity TV chef literally steps out of a TV set which is in the kitchen and revolutionizes the poor housewives life.
A stock part of this was the setting up of Fanny as a character to be looked up to, and whose sophistication was to be emulated. She and Johnny taught themselves to speak in received pronunciation, and while they did genuinely have sophisticated foreign travel under their belt, hints of a far more upper class background than they really had were continually dropped. By the 60s Fanny had become part of society.
I particularly like her shows from the 70s about a cooking for Christmas, because she drops even more hints about her family.
'I'll go right orff you'!
I also love the idea of being invited to a cheese and wine party!
Fanny's television career was brought to an unfortunate end after she was rude to a member of the public, and her place was taken by less old-fashioned seeming cooks. She remained and remains the national consciousness though.
Yet more facets of this remarkable character which I have not covered here are her life as a door to door saleswoman of vacuum cleaners, her recovery from cancer through Faith healing, her life as a spiritualist and her series of novels and other books.
She has recently had a Resurgence in popularity you can find a blog where are recipes are cooked in vegetarian versions here.
I hope the videos play abroad, and as Johnny once famously ended a show: May all your doughnuts look like Fanny's!

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Virgin of the Secret Service: First Impressions

Source: here
After hesitating for a number of years, a hesitation which was caused by definitely mixed reviews on the internet, I have finally taken the plunge and bought the box set of this series on spec , having never seen a single episode of it.
Not a favourite of the cult TV world, is I suppose the verdict on the internet. This verdict seems to be based on the idea for this show cannot decide what it really wants to be. It is either an actual spy series set in the Edwardian era, or it is a light piece of fluffy parody, off the sort which the 1960s did so well. The show has been compared to Adam Adamant, just with the proviso that in this there is the hero has never gone to sleep. It has also been described as an Edwardian Avengers, surely a huge compliment if it can be said to be true.
I have been trying to get out of the habit of making general posts about a new series, and instead concentrating on posts about single episodes, but I am watching this series for the first time, really with only half an eye, and want to reflect on its impressions on me.
For a start there is a slight problem with the title. Word Virgin meant what it did now in 1968, and pretty well has meant the same thing since the dawn of time. Yes it is true that there are difficult surnames around, we only have to look at the situation in Strange Report, where Strange has a habit of walking into a room and saying, 'hello I'm Strange,' and I can only repeat that in reality you would not say that you would say that your name was strange. It is inconceivable to me that anyone has ever had a Virgin as a surname. Naturally I am quite prepared to be proved wrong about this, you were saddled with that burden of a surname you would probably take great care to change it very quickly. So therefore has an absolutely ridiculous name as part of its title, which implies that it is pure comedy and parody.
I do see why some people say that and decide whether it is comedy or a straight spy series. Moments in the episodes I have watched have made me laugh out loud. There have also been moments when Virgin has definitely compared with Adam Adamant in stuffiness. This show has the advantage that this stuffiness and formality are seen in their natural context rather than in the anachronistic setting of the 1960s. However to appreciate the show I think it is very important to remember that it was made in 1968, so that while not set in the 1960s it is a product of it and must be seen against the backdrop of the time. This is the age which gave birth to the other TV programmes that I have mentioned in this post, and both they and Virgin actually draw heavily on the cultural milieu of the time.
When I think of the setting of most of the TV series I write about here, I say a mixture of periods been drawn on. What I mean by that is that while I often find myself talking about the futuristic technological aspirations of the 1960s, when I look at the visual setting of these aspirations, I often see a yearning for the past. In the Avengers this comes across as a yearning for a Britain which probably never really existed, and which the series is very careful to with the actual contemporary world of the 1960s. We also see the artefacts of the past used in a modern setting in the series: I am particularly thinking of John Steed cars for example, which would already have been too old to be reliable run around in the 1960s. In the fashions of the time we see young people queuing up at shops in Carnaby Street and elsewhere to buy old military uniforms as fashion.
Virgin provides the setting where those military uniforms which that young people were wearing, were actually warm as real uniforms. It also provides a heavily colonial setting for the series, which moves from place to place in the days when most of the map of the world was Pink, representing the British Empire. I wonder whether virgin represents an insecurity of the time, since it was at this time that the Break-Up of the British Empire was gathering speed, and at the same time the Citizens of our former colonies were establishing themselves in Britain. That said I doubt very much that this was at the forefront of the shows creators mind. That said, writing this post has made me wonder whether a yearning for Empire was also partly the inspiration of the latest series of The Avengers, since the English settings of I'll definitely what I would call avenger land.
I imagine that this show was originally broadcast in colour, but the episodes on the DVDs are in black and white. As no this is not an unusual situation with shows of this era. In this case I regret it because I have a feeling that if we could see these shows in the original colour we would see that the sets are very much like those used in the Avengers episode Pandora: This show is of course set in the same period as Pandora was, and looks and feels like it. The photo I am using to illustrate this post is one of the many photos of the sets (the show is almost completely studio based, unusually for this late in the 1960s) and shows one which looks virtually exactly like John steed's flat in series 6!
This show  avoids one of my own personal bugbears, have repeated use of actors who tends to make me at least think about where else I have seen them rather than the show itself. The star is an actor who I am ashamed to say I had never heard of before, Clinton Greyn. I certainly should have heard of him, because he managed to guest star in pretty much every one of the shows I have in my collection. He also did extensive film work, and has also worked as an architect been presidents of the 20th century Society.
My own verdict on this show is that if you like the sort of programs I write about here, you should give it a go. It works better as the sort of escapist TV I like, van as either a straight spy show or a comedy. I think to viewers of my sort of television it would provide another example of the sort of odd series made in the 1960s, I would be very interested to hear readers opinions of this show, since Internet reviews seem to be so divided.