(White Jaguar TV) The Champions: The Final Countdown

Very classic ITC territory here, Nazi war criminals intent on world domination, unexploded bombs and only The Champions standing between them and their ambition. At this point I realise that I really could do with watching all the way through the ITC series again, because I am completely certain that these themes are recurring ones, but couldn't particularly tell you which shows. From memory, I am certain there is another Champions where they deal with a Nazi who has been hiding out for twenty years and (somewhat incredibly) thinks the war is still going on, and there is a Department S with a Nazi theme. In true Department S style it is treated much more as a backdrop of Nazi memorabilia, and to be fair you have to be a bit theatrical in that show because otherwise Jason King might appear unreal.

And we can't have that, can we.

Actually I have also literally just realised the sheer number of shows at this time with Second World War themes. I was hoping to have a short, pithy reference to explain the volume of interest, but on reading round, I have found that the ongoing effects of the war for decades afterwards, are multiple and complex. The study of the effects of war unsurprisingly indicates it has negative economic, emotional, financial and even negative health effects. I would suggest that by the sixties the generation who grew up in or just after the war were still processing the trauma and that they would have been old enough and senior enough professionally, for at least some of this processing to be done publicly, such as in TV shows. I do not therefore think that programmes such as this with Nazi themes can easily be explained as either a direct moral lesson (difficult in the case of The Champions because it is incongruent for superior humans to conquer other 'superior' humans) nor yet that the Nazi theme would be chosen as a morally neutral choice.

In fact in The Final Countdown the Nazi plotline cleverly meets the Cold War world, the fear of nuclear technology, and so the danger of Nazism is thus hugely magnified. This show is therefore potentially terrifying if you pay enough attention to it. In fact this may be the key to understanding a possible motivation for the show, since it blows the cosy Cold War narrative that the danger is on the other side of the Iron Curtain, out of the water by crossing it with danger clearly still on this side of the Curtain. Bloody scary, and definitely suitable for Halloween viewing.

Visually the show is clearly intended to press Second World War buttons in British viewers by the use of conventional devices from war films. Honestly if you were reliant on cinema you would be convinced Germany is just one big dead forest with locals giving directions to the border. This one also uses the interrogation scene, a great classic scene of war films. It is of course used elsewhere in The Champions but this scene done with a German accent has one association for the British.

The white Jaguar scene comes quite early and without a word of a lie, I have watched this several times for this post and am still not at all clear why the guy had to die. Reading round on t'internet it looks like I'm not the only one in this position so I suppose a valid criticism would be that the plot isn't always crystal clear in its details. The big picture is very clear though. Some attempts have been made not to show that the car is right hand drive, since this takes place in Germany, and it may simply be because I know, but I automatically assumed the crash took place in Britain. A further totally personal criticism would be the number of familiar actors who are here somewhat distracting.

This is overall a well plotted episode of The Champions which is well worth watching and provokes some deep stuff if you let it. The only pity is that my compatriots don't seem to have learned that avoiding war means getting closer to the perceived enemy, not leaving Europe. If anyone can drive a lorry, Boris wants to hear from you.

You will see that I have added my surname to my profile name. You all know by now that I'm a bare chester and my profile picture reflects that (I have actually toyed with the idea of changing the blog name to Topless on TV, the joke being that it's me that is topless). When I started this blog I had an odious employer who I thought (with reason) wouldn't be above googling my name and sacking me for having a bare chested profile picture. That said I would have looked forward to the subsequent tribunal since the court of appeal has ruled that in UK law a man's chest isn't sexual even if he has moobs like mine.  Anyway I no longer work for them so I've put my full name.

Picture credit