Depressing reminder of when television was intelligent
Mark Shanks | Portland, OR | 03/25/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Watching these 35-year-old shows is a disturbing revelation at how television today has gotten even MORE dumbed-down than when it was referred to as the "vast wasteland". ALL of these shows have interesting characters, exotic locales (from Africa to Greece, South America to behind the Iron Curtain), and PLOT. Compared to "Man From U.N.C.L.E", this is Nobel Prize material! Each 50-minute show has more PLOT than most 2-hour movies foisted on us these days. As noted above, probably of greatest interest to McGoohan fans will be the episode "The Colony", as the origins of "The Village" are plain for all to see. However, my favorite has to be "What Happened to George Foster", where McGoohan's Drake takes on a millionaire Lord (played by Bernard Lee, no less!) and risks his career, not to mention his life, in a private vendetta that foreshadows #6's battles with the assorted #2's of "The Prisoner". This is certainly not light-hearted "Avengers"-style material. McGoohan gets roughed up in just about every episode, and there aren't any charming eccentrics or snappy gadgets. But it is nearly incredible that such high quality LeCarre-like material was shown on a weekly basis. Truely, it was a Golden Age."
Gritty British Spy Drama
C. S. Junker | Burien, WA USA | 03/06/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Not as cerebral as "The Prisoner", nor nearly as simplistic as James Bond, Man from U.N.C.L.E., or any of the dozens of spy shows that were popular in the late sixties, "Danger Man" (Secret Agent in the U.S.) is a fine example of how British drama is often more subtle and ambiguous than anything you're likely to see on American TV.Modern viewers may scratch their heads, wondering why this show was so wildly popular. At its worst, the pacing is glacial, the narrative larded with long chunks of exposition. At its best, this is chilling, thought provoking drama with plenty of gray areas, reminiscent of the Le Carre adaptions (Tinker, Tailor, etc.) that were produced in the 70s and 80s. These shows are surprisingly cerebral for a TV series; while some episodes are too deliberately paced to work as thrillers, McGoohan is always worth watching, the black and white DVD transfers are gorgeous, and the endings are often startling. If you're not a McGoohan fan, you'll probably find "The Prisoner" more accessible. If you've already discovered "The Prisoner", and enjoy John Le Carre-style gritty, realistic espionage stories, give this box a try. (The episodes in Volume 2 are generally more absorbing and darker than those included in the first DVD set.)"
Good Set. Fun for the whole Family.
cloudia | Seattle, WA United States | 09/03/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There are eight episodes on this DVD, of seeming various length. They're certainly entertaining, in black & white, which is part of the charm. McGoohan himself is very appealing and fun to watch. The sets are a bit cheesy, and recycled. The hotel in one episode, is, with minor alterations, the hospital in the next and the German apartment complex in the next. The plots don't really make much sense if you think about them for more than five seconds. The third world episodes all seem to be set in Banana Republic #43. But the visuals are fun, from footage, some stock, some not, of London and Paris, and make-up and fashion styles of the sixties, complete with the occasional semi-fashionable thug. And of course, there's the obligatory set of fisticuffs almost every episode. But the atmosphere is nicely paranoid, and, somehow, John Drake, the hero, emerges as slightly less adolescent than his main screen rival. There are some "upsetting" or "ambiguous" endings, though Drake seems more invigorated than drained by the paranoia. And there's funny dialogue like when an adorable Latin American Minister of Culture, a babe in uniform, says "I have read all of your great writers, your Shakespeare, your Dickens, your Upton Sinclair." I wouldn't exactly call this show intelligent, but it is very entertaining, and, by today's standards, remarkably wholesome. And, yes, the episode 'Colony Three' is certainly a precursor to the Prisoner. But Danger Man stands on its own merits."
Danger Man Set 2: The plots need some work...
trebe | 04/01/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Patrick McGoohan is back as British secret agent John Drake in further episodes of Danger Man. Here are summaries and/or comments for the episodes in this set. Episode ratings are on a scale from one to five (best).Volume 3: (Disc 1)The Professionals (3): An agent in Prague has suddenly vanished. John Drake arrives in Prague, posing as a member of the embassy staff, his mission is to locate the missing man. Very quickly he is taken in, and compromised by a crafty operative, and his lovely accomplice. Drawn into their trap, Drake learns the fate of the missing man, and then takes steps to save him before it is too late. A Date With Doris (2): Drake is in an unspecified Latin American location to extract an agent in jeopardy, and then rendezvous with the submarine "Doris". His cover is as a reporter sent to interview a prominent General. Things just do not go smoothly for Drake, and he always seems off balance. He barely concludes this messy affair, and is only successful because of luck, and some very fortuitous assistance. He is also guilty of a major error, when he foolishly allows himself to be followed to his "safe house". Count yourself lucky this time, John. The Mirror's New (3): This one keeps you guessing. Edmund Bearce, a member of the British Embassy staff, chooses murder as a way to cancel a personal debt. Preparing to dispose of the body, he has an accident, and is knocked unconscious. Upon waking, he has a dead body on his hands, and a lost day to account for. Bearce reappears, but can't explain what happened. A suspicious Drake investigates and uncovers a secret life, and much more. Colony Three (5): Easily the most thought provoking episode on the disc. The plot is similar to an episode of "The Prisoner" or "The Avengers", skirting the edges of credibility. Drake takes the place of a communist sympathizer, just prior to his defection to the Soviets. After arriving in Soviet territory, Drake and two other defectors take a long train ride to a secret location. They arrive at a place named "Hamden", also known as the "village" (sound familiar?). The phony English town is actually a training ground where Soviet agents learn to assimilate into British culture. Drake penetrates security, gathers as much information as he can, and then it is time to leave. This one has a bit of everything, torture, gadgets, death and a tragic end.Volume 4: (Disc 2)It's Up To the Lady (2): Sometimes Drake is just not on his game, and this is one of those times. A British diplomat intending to defect vanishes. A rendezvous with his wife (Sylvia Syms), will take place in Greece, near the Albanian border. Drake is on the scene, to try and get the wayward diplomat to return to Britain. Underestimating the local opposition, he is nearly drowned, loses his charges, and carelessly gets himself shot. Topping it all off, he learns once again what it is like to be a pawn in the game.What Ever Happened to George Foster? (3): Bernard Lee ("M" from the Bond films) guest stars, as Lord Ammandford, a wealthy industrialist who seeks to destabilize the government of a fictitious South American country. In addition, the Lord is a man interested in keeping a mysterious past a secret from a probing John Drake. This is more of a straight detective story.The Galloping Major (2): Sent to Africa, at the request of the President (Henry Marshall) of an unnamed country, Drake finds himself the pawn in a political power struggle. Makes interesting viewing in light of historical events, but not a great story. The Colonel's Daughter (4): In India, classified information is being leaked to the enemy. Drake is looking into the activities of a butterfly collecting Colonel, and his daughter, living in a house in the country. Soon, Drake is up a tree, in the middle of the jungle, maintaining surveillance. Later, he uncharacteristically emerges victorious in a three on one brawl, on his way to uncovering those involved in the secret pipeline. Drake finds that the Colonel's daughter is definitely Daddy's girl.
Writing is critical to a good story, and some of the plots of these international exploits just do not quite pass muster. Drake is simply not at his best, making some near fatal mistakes. Perhaps being an operative largely on his own in a foreign land, puts Drake at too much of a disadvantage. He doesn't quite have the fire we have seen before. A few good episodes, but not enough for a ringing endorsement of this set. Give A&E positive marks for addressing a previous complaint, by upgrading to four episodes per disc. Fans of Danger Man, may find my other reviews of interest."