I had a story to tell with this blog, and as I began scheduling its final year, I realized I was either going to run out of story to tell or it was going to become an exclusively Stargate blog with a movie every weekend until we got to all the films I wanted to write for the blog. I needed something more to give a little extension, and realized that I’d been having a lot of fun with the ITC adventure series that I enjoy so much, and which seem to keep the kid satisfied. So we’re going to look at some samples from five more programs from Lew Grade’s efforts to entertain the world, starting with nine selections from Danger Man.
Danger Man, which was created by Ralph Smart, starred Patrick McGoohan as John Drake, who, in the first 39 half-hour episodes, was an agent for NATO. This gave ITC an early opportunity to show off their talent to look like they’re trotting around the globe while never leaving Hertfordshire. ITC successfully sold the package to dozens of countries around the world. In the United States, CBS bought the run and showed many of the episodes – although, I think, not all of them – in the spring and summer of 1961. They weren’t originally interested in more, but that would change in a couple of years.
I had never seen any of the half-hour episodes before tonight. I bought Timeless’s collection earlier this year, and chose four by the guest stars. “Position of Trust” features Lois Maxwell and Donald Pleasance, both of whom McGoohan might have worked with again on the big screen had he accepted the offer of James Bond. But McGoohan famously turned down that role because he didn’t like the character’s womanizing. John Drake only has eyes for the mission, and in this one, he needs to get an expat living in a middle eastern Nosuchlandia to cough up a list of wholesalers who are buying opium and moving it on to big organized crime outfits.
This wasn’t a very successful outing for us, because our son was a bit lost by the plot. It’s a bit too subtle for a ten year-old, but the key is that Pleasance’s character quietly pretends like he is a big shot in a position of trust, but the Ministry of Health just employs him as a modest file clerk. Drake gets to wheel and deal and con him into turning, but since Pleasance underplays his part so well, he doesn’t look or feel even remotely villainous, just a put-upon little Walter Mitty getting caught up in something far larger. The two could have easily acted the same way in a script where McGoohan was the villain and Pleasance needed Jason King or the Champions to get him out of this mess. I like how fast the story moved, but I can understand why the kid was baffled. Hopefully the next ones will be more his speed.