Written by: Don Chaffey, Michael Truman, Patrick McGoohan & Peter Yates
Directed by: Philip Broadly, Malcolm Hulke, Donald Johnson, Ralph Smart & David Stone
Starring: Patrick McGoohan, Peter Madden
- Photo gallery
- Alternate American opening
- McGoohan biography & filmography
- 2-disc sets, 4 episodes per disc
Released by: A&E Home Video
Anamorphic: N/A; presented in its original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Rent them.
Once again we enter the shadowy world of Cold War espionage with John Drake (McGoohan) in the spy series Danger Man. As in the previous sets, Drake is sent around the world to track down dangerous assassins and renegade spies, protect Her Majesty’s secrets from those who would use them against her, and fixing situations when they threaten lives and even whole nations. All he uses is his intelligence, charm, and maybe a gadget or two. And he does it without causing massive explosions, falling into bed with slutty women, or listening to a villain’s ponderous exposition.
[ad#longpost]After watching more episodes, it’s the grayness of the covert conflict that makes this show interesting, since most shows and countries during this time (as there are now) were portraying the battles between East and West as black and white, us vs. them. In “Parallel Lines Sometimes Meet”, Drake forms a friendly but competitive relationship with a Russian agent investigating missing scientists. But in “To Our Best Friend “, Drake has to work with a British assassin who tucks into breakfast while calmly discussing ‘eliminating’ a possible traitor. Good and evil are labels that don’t apply in intelligence work.
The best example of this was the episode “Judgment Day”. Drake is told to bring a Dr. Garriga to England from Saudi Arabia. The problems start with Garriga being armed and very paranoid while Drake keeps hitting roadblocks getting out of the country. He finds the cause when the airplane he and his charge are in crashes in the desert and they are intercepted by a rogue Israeli Nazi hunting party. They say Garriga is a Nazi scientist responsible for the deaths of dozens of Jews in the name of ‘science’. But instead of delivering him to The Hague or Tel Aviv, the group is going to execute him and leave him in the desolate wastes. Partly to buy time for the pilot to radio the authorities, but mainly because of his principles, Drake argues that their deciding Garriga must die without due process makes them just as bad as the Nazis. Garriga pipes in saying the Jews died testing the effectiveness of bacterial weaponry and its antidotes. His research could help the West and that’s why Drake in bringing him in. In the end, Garriga is shot, but no one gets the moral high ground. That sort of complexity is rarely seen on TV now, never mind the mid 60s.
Still, the show still has some of the idealism of the period. In both “The Mercenaries” and “Someone is Liable to Get Hurt”, Drake assists threatened foreign governments that are democratic is nature, when the reality was that the West was more likely to support any thug on a general’s uniform if he was against communism. And the various characters he works with or against tend to be a bit too over the top to be taken seriously. I can’t if this is due to the actors or the writing.
The DVD features are the same as they were in the previous sets: a filmography and biography of McGoohan, a picture gallery from the episodes, and the alternate U.S. opening. Not much in quality or quantity, but the episodes of Danger Man are worth viewing. So when you’re ready, give them a rental.