Absolutely essential Spy TV for smart people
T. Neff | Lyme, CT USA | 01/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Despite the superfluity of attention lavished on THE PRISONER, you get much the best of John Drake and Patrick McGoohan in the original series, DANGER MAN (shown in the US as SECRET AGENT). Originally written as a spy for NATO, Drake eventually became a British agent in the Bond tradition, but with a decidedly sardonic working-class flavor that meshed neatly with McGoohan's Brooklyn upbringing.There is something for everyone in the one-hour SECRET AGENT teleplays. The writing and character-acting (featuring the cream of the British TV troupe of the time) are superb, so that your intellect is diverted regardless of the subject matter. Although the location budget was limited, the producers managed to convey a genuinely exotic flavor week after week in luminous black-and-white. Noticeable wisps of LA DOLCE VITA suffuse the wardrobe and coiffure of these swinging-60's episodes. The music is exquisite, often using a single harpsichord or spare brass and drums to convey a wide range of moods. And has been noted, Drake takes on assignment after assignment using his own brains and a certain amount of brawn, often under his own name, and often in the face of local (including British) authorities. Towards the end of the series, when McGoohan's celebrity value had maxed and the limitations of the DANGER MAN formula were evident, a remarkably freewheeling style emerged, one that made THE PRISONER a logical next step or perhaps a reaction.I have watched these shows for years with fierce affection. To develop a taste for DANGER MAN is to partake of some of the very best British TV of the 20th century. Their release on DVD is an occasion of great joy, and I intend to collect everything issued."
Good "old fashioned" espionage...
trebe | 11/20/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Set in the mid-sixties when "cold war" activity was intense, "Danger Man" presents a "street level" view of espionage. Here there are no grandiose plots by megalomaniacs out to rule the world. No wild gun battles, secret underground hideouts or pyrotechnic explosions. Down in the trenches, the action is less spectacular and the objectives are far less ambitious.Patrick McGoohan as British agent John Drake, is strictly business. Serious, competent and efficient. A tightly wound man, without much of a sense of humor, and underneath perhaps a very nasty temper. McGoohan's short, and clipped manner of speaking adds to the impression of an impatient man with a short fuse. Fortunately he always finds street parking when reporting for duty at "World Travel"."Danger Man" is decidedly "low tech". John Drake does not employ any cutting edge, James Bond type gadgets, relying instead on his wits to survive. No computers, or tricked out vehicles here. The most "advanced" device used, is closed circuit television. Messages are passed in matchboxes and folded newspapers. Flashing back on an obsolete technology, how about the microdot?"Danger Man" features well developed plots, rather than excessive violence or gunplay, and the body count is low. In the six episodes, the total number killed personally by Drake is exactly "00". Don't be dissuaded by this, there is still plenty of tension and suspense even without the dramatic fireworks. The change is refreshing.Regarding this first "Danger Man" collection, the quality of the episodes steadily improves. Volume 1 opens with "The Battle of Cameras", probably the weakest offering in the collection. McGoohan is not quite convincing, in the role of a suave playboy on the Rivera. He's no Roger Moore. This episode features the closest thing to a stereotypical "cartoon villain". The second episode, "A Room With A View" is a little better. With the somewhat over dramatic plot revolving around Drake's efforts to free a captured friend held prisoner in a foreign embassy. Things start to improve with "Fair Exchange", an episode featuring a delusional former agent bent on killing the man who tortured her. He just happens to be an official in East Germany. Drake must stop her.Moving to Volume 2, we find three winners. In "Fish On The Hook", Drake searches for the mysterious "Fish", the head of an espionage cell in Egypt, who is in danger of being exposed. This episode features Zena Marshall who appeared in "Dr. No". Drake plays a butler in "No Marks for Servility". Mervyn Johns is truly obnoxious as Drake's unscrupulous employer. Here we can plainly see Drake's restrained anger spotlighted. "Yesterday's Enemies" is a fitting finale, the conclusion catches even Drake by surprise, and causes him to question the very authority he serves. The spy game does have some harsh rules. Drake barely avoids having his eye used as an ashtray.Composer Edwin Astley's use of music for "Danger Man" is very reminiscent of his work on another series, "The Saint". Though the instances where music used is somewhat reduced, the style is similar, and effective. The "Danger Man" theme is quite energetic and engaging, and the sound of the harpsichord appears with regularity throughout the episodes. As a bonus, the opening clip of the American incarnation featuring the song "Secret Agent Man" by Johnny Rivers, is included.All in all a very well rounded opening collection. Hopefully the first of many to come. "Danger Man" is certainly dated, but if you want a more realistic, somewhat "gritty" taste of espionage set in those times, this set is highly recommended. John Drake may not leave you feeling warm and fuzzy, but he gets the job done. Like A & E's previous collections for "The Saint" and the "The Avengers" there isn't much in the way of bonus materials. This is disappointing, but hardly unexpected at this point.Get this set!"
Still the Best TV Series Ever Made
relew | Scottsdale, Arizona USA | 10/09/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"OK, go ahead, tell me I'm wrong, but point out a better series. No cheap thrills through pyrotechnics, smut and inuendo. Just solid writing, good story lines, excellent and real character development. John Drake was THE man of the 60's. I would hold up Saturday night dates until Secret Agent was over - never regretted it.Colorize this series and run it on Fox and they would have another hit. Sure it's dated and the sets are pretty retro, but the style is fast-paced and the creators didn't waste time trying to save the world, just making one case at a time.I always regretted that this series did not last longer. Is it too much to ask for someone to wise up and bring it back? Not nostalgia, just sick of current TV fare. This is what TV should be."