I told our son that this episode of Jason King would feature a plot that they’d used a couple of times before, although not smuggling Jason somewhere in a box. “Committing crimes based on the plots of his books?” he asked. He hasn’t got the finest memory in the world, but sometimes he pays attention.
No, this is another example of somebody posing as Jason, but this time out, it’s our hero Patrick Troughton! He and Simon Oates play some organized crime types who are trying to get to a deposed Mafioso bigwig who’s hiding out in a fortress, and who, conveniently, is a huge Jason King fan. Even more conveniently, Jason happens to arrive in this allegedly quiet area of Italy to get away from reporters for a while. So yes, this is remarkably silly, but it’s done with such panache. At one point, a police inspector notes the kingpin’s fandom as though Jason’s novels are the real problem. Jason replies that he isn’t responsible for “the dichotomy of my readership.”
Overall, I think I enjoyed the Jason King series more than I enjoyed Department S, even though some of the S episodes, particularly “The Pied Piper of Hambeldown” and “One of Our Aircraft is Missing”, are better than anything in the solo run, and there was never an S episode as lousy as “Zenia”. The kid agrees, but only because he didn’t immediately remember the name Department S, and thought it was a superhero show for a minute. What was I saying about his memory?
Honestly, neither show is as good as I would hope, thanks in large part to so many downright ordinary hours penned by Philip Broadley across both series. But the more Wyngarde the better, I’d say. At their best, both shows gave us excellent examples of these fun romps, and for the most part, when they weren’t thrilling, they were usually at least competently-made and intelligent, with very good guest actors, and I enjoyed them overall. Good stuff.
I had such fun introducing our son to the entertaining world of ITC that we’re going to have some sampling mini-seasons of five other shows from the company for the blog a little later this year. We’ll start with a few episodes of Danger Man in August. Stay tuned!