Afraid our son wasn’t in the right frame of mind for tonight’s episode of The Saint. He said that he enjoyed all the fights – there’s a brawl about every six minutes – and didn’t like all the smooching, but he got lost in a plot detail. He’s done this before when he’s a little tired and overstimulated, but he convinced himself that the story’s macguffin was vitally important to his understanding of the plot. Plus he misheard “Process G” as something else, and stayed completely confused until he asked us to pause and explain why in the world some American company is going to pay an old man a million dollars for processed cheese.
Since he didn’t understand the macguffin, he decided the story was too complex for him and tuned out. It’s been a while, but I remember a New Avengers left him similarly stumped and bored. Interestingly, he realized afterward just where he misunderstood. He recited straight back to us a pretty good definition of a macguffin, that it’s merely the object that drives the plot and the action. Once he understood he was hung up on something unimportant, he conceded that he enjoyed the scraps.
And that’s a shame, because he could have enjoyed a good one, packed with great actors, with a very funny opening. It begins with Simon in a fancy hotel bar overhearing two young men mocking him, because he’s got the looks of a fellow upon whom damsels in distress throw themselves. Cue, immediately, a damsel in distress played by Annette Andre.
So Simon doesn’t give her story of death threats and macguffins any attention, congratulates the chaps on pulling a good gag, and has to run to her rescue because some villains, among them Peter Vaughan, Neil McCarthy, and Michael Robbins, really did send her that death threat because they want her father’s macguffin. McCarthy and Andre appeared together a few years later in a Randall and Hopkirk. Other familiar faces include Justine Lord as the maneater who wants to do all the smooching that bothered the kid, along with Ed Bishop, Geoffrey Keen, and David Jackson. That is a really terrific cast for a fun and entertaining story. Hopefully he’ll be less wired for the next episode, although I’m not expecting him to recognize Justine Lord in it since he tuned her out completely tonight.
This didn’t start off promising. I knew episode three wasn’t going to live up to this morning and afternoon; we watched Iron Man 2 here and then went to see Black Panther, which was very good, at the Regal. Our son’s been pretty wild today with all the spectacle and excitement, and tonight we settled in for a forty-three year old slow burner.
And indeed the opening scene had him completely lost. David Jackson, a familiar face on British television in the seventies who is probably best known as Gan in Blake’s 7, plays a police sergeant getting statements from the kids and their parents, trying to find out which social service or remand home that Sky has left. There’s also the matter of Major Briggs accusing Sky of assaulting him, but there’s not a mark on him. Our son asked to pause it and I needed to completely recap everything. I think the storytelling is clear, but to older viewers. Our son’s unfamiliar with any sort of police procedure and didn’t know what was happening. When Sky puts the whammy on the sergeant – a “these are not the droids you’re looking for” Jedi mind trick a couple of years early – it really had him confused.
Then Goodchild turns up. This is the character played by Robert Eddison, a manifestation of Earth’s resistance to Sky. Everything about him just oozes menace and malice in a way that not even Mickey Rourke or Michael B. Jordan, in their roles as Marvel villains, could manage. The music is an interesting clue. Most of the incidental music, which is by Eric Wetherell, is played on traditional instruments, but Goodchild is accompanied by a harsh synthesizer score. It sounds uncannily like the incidental music that Dudley Simpson had composed for “Terror of the Autons” to accompany the Master’s first arrival on Earth.
Because he’s six, our son squirms a lot. Feet are occasionally in the air. But tonight, he was shooting finger guns at Goodchild, before the character had actually done anything other than glare at Robert Speight’s character. We told him to sit down and he sat still, mouth tight and eyes wide. After the episode finished, I wondered why he was shooting at the TV, worrying that he was fed up with this odd show. No, he just didn’t like that man. “He’s going to hurt Sky.”
“Are you worried about Sky?” I asked. “I’m not worried, I’m scared for him,” he replied.