Happily, for the benefit of regular readers wondering whether our son was going to enjoy this show again, the kid liked this one much more than many of the previous episodes, and that’s even with us pausing a few times to discuss the racism and the unflattering stereotypes in this tale written by Robert Banks Stewart and set in Hong Kong. While on a layover, Jason finds a weird error in the local version of the syndicated Mark Caine comic strip, and learns that it is being used to send messages to a local hit squad to ferret out foreign agents.
There’s really nothing wrong with the script, but the production is very, very much of its time, which means that Wyngarde gets to haul out a number-one-son accent a couple of times. Also, sadly, while some familiar faces from the period like Bert Kwouk make up the ranks of the gunmen and the lieutenants, the major roles are played by British actors like Clifford Evans in yellowface. So yes, we had a lot to talk about. Allan Cuthbertson also appears as a British intelligence agent.
As part of my decluttering, I’ve been giving my set of Titan Books’ reprints of James Bond newspaper strips one final flip-through and moving them on. Honestly, I paid $13-14 apiece for these things, read them once, and forgot what happened in every one of them. I’m so stupid sometimes. Anyway, the strip carried on long after they’d run out of Ian Fleming novels and short stories to adapt, with writer Jim Lawrence and artist Yaroslav Horak coming up with all sorts of outlandish plots and reasons for people to take off their clothes. So these were fresh in my mind as we looked at the episode and its talk of international newspaper syndication, with Jason acknowledging that he does not write the strip, but approves what happens in it and is familiar enough to recognize problems or replacements.
However, I’m sorry, but the images that make it onto the screen do not look even remotely professional, and nothing at all like a strip that would have ever seen print in any newspaper anywhere. At least when The Avengers did something a little bit similar, they had the good sense to hire Frank Bellamy to do the comic strip illustrations. Honestly, ITC, couldn’t you have phoned Yaroslav Horak?