Jason King 1.2 – A Page Before Dying

Before we got started with tonight’s episode, I cued up an early episode of MacGyver that we’d watched a few years ago to give our kid a little context. They were, then, in the habit of using a heck of a lot of library footage to beef up their stories, and in “Deathlock”, they built a scene around footage culled from the film of Len Deighton’s Funeral in Berlin. This gave me the opportunity to remind our son of what we’d discussed before about spy series often dealing with people trying to get out of the Eastern sector, and also who Len Deighton was.

So this episode, written by Tony Williamson, is an absolute gem. Suddenly, to get somebody out of East Berlin, every spy in Europe wants to know exactly how Jason King did it in his novel A Page Before Dying, and whether it will work in the real world. Soon, all eyes are on him, because he gets smuggled into East Berlin against his will, and doesn’t have any choice but to work the scheme while the other side’s intelligence agents are watching him like a hawk. It’s already a hugely entertaining story with lots of wit and putdowns and surprises, and ends with a delightful twist. Our son enjoyed it a lot, I’m glad to say. It’s among the character’s very best outings.

This is the first of a few appearances by Ronald Lacey as a “Whitehall worm” called Ryland who whines and manipulates our hero, and it also features small roles for familiar faces Olaf Pooley, Michael Sheard, and Philip Madoc. Plus, it’s the first appearance of an unbelievable “action” costume for Jason that I’ll have to show you some other time: skintight motorcycle leathers and an ascot. Have to say I prefer his jackets and neckties.

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