Department S 1.26 – A Small War of Nerves

Apparently in 1969, a fellow could leave his car unlocked in a London parking garage for more than a week with the keys in the glove box and expect it’ll still be there. I’d like to think that I almost never comment on what we’re watching, but I think when I do it’s amusing myself at the differences in the world over time. Marie and I were watching a 1973 episode of one of the NBC Mystery Movies, The Snoop Sisters, last week, and I had to marvel at a character complaining that the decks at Rockerfeller Center charged a whole dollar an hour to park. Bet if that guy did give up on finding a street spot, he knew to lock his car.

Also in 1969, the future international movie icon Anthony Hopkins was hungry and looking for work. This episode of Department S is Hopkins’ only ITC credit. Certainly he was busy with the National Theatre throughout the sixties and only appeared on TV and in films once in a while, but it’s a real shame they couldn’t have got him back for a Saint or something. Wouldn’t Hopkins have been an amazing Number Two in The Prisoner? Frederick Jaeger’s also in this, as a very smooth and nasty villain. His plotline gets abandoned as the problem moves to another part of Britain; I’d like to think the police came back for him some other time.

Our son enjoyed this one right until the end. It’s a good missing persons story with guards and mean dogs and last minute escapes, along with some completely lovely location footage in London in and around Waterloo Station, but it ends with a psychological standoff instead of a brawl. That’s certainly the best way this episode should have gone, and it’s a great emotional payoff, but I think any nine year-olds in the audience wouldn’t be wrong for wanting a sock to the jaw instead of talking through the crisis.

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