WHAT TO WATCH ON TV
Stream On: Earlier than 007, there was Drake, John Drake. After, there was Quantity Six.
By Peter Hummers on September 10, 2020
In 1959, Ian Fleming had accomplished about half of his James Bond novels. No films had but been made. He labored for some time with Ralph Sensible, of Britain’s ITC Leisure, on a tv present a few globe-trotting spy who launched himself as “Drake, John Drake.”
In 1967, the star of that present, which was referred to as Hazard Man, created one about an ex-spy who, after being kidnapped, finds himself on a distant island with others, being relentlessly debriefed by a mysterious group for whom he could or could not have labored, as he struggles to take care of his individuality.
(Within the U.S., the second collection was referred to as SECRET AGENT) <IMDb.com>
(Amazon.com; Prime Video; ad-supported on TubiTV and the Roku Channel) 1960-1962, 1964-1965 [TVPG]
Irish-American actor Patrick McGoohan was born in Astoria, Queens, New York Metropolis, to Irish immigrants in New York, who have been right here to hunt work. Quickly after they moved again to Eire, and some years later moved to England. ITC head Sir Lew Grade wished to supply an exportable spy tv collection, so McGoohan used a mid-Atlantic accent in his portrayal of John Drake, at first a NATO agent “from America.”
The primary collection of Hazard Man comprised 39 half-hour episodes. They have been smooth and stylized freestanding adventures, which in America, have been used as a summer time alternative for Steve McQueen’s Needed: Useless or Alive.
Plots concerned Drake trying to find the cash of a murdered American banker, Drake ordered to kill an murderer whom he’d somewhat seize, Drake investigating slavery within the Arabian desert and so forth. They have been easy plots, with the curiosity coming from Drake’s erudition and appeal and some devices, comparable to miniature cameras.
The primary collection was fairly good; the second, higher by an order of magnitude.
The second, improved collection was marked by hour-long episodes and extra complicated storytelling. Attention-grabbing tradecraft was highlighted, comparable to folding a doc right into a newspaper and exchanging it with a “strangers” newspaper, and dangerous data given out to see who passes it alongside, to not point out some nicely choreographed motion.
That is the collection that made it to America underneath the title Secret Agent, accompanied on US TV by Johnny Rivers’ tune “Secret Agent Man” (which you’ll hear <right here> in a 2018 reside efficiency).
Drake is now a Brit in a little bit of an antagonistic relationship along with his M9 “employer,” with sarcasm and passive aggressiveness informing their dialogue, setting the scene, by the way in which, for McGoohan’s subsequent collection.
The characters are given a number of motivations, the plots are intricate, and Patrick McGoohan is fairly close to excellent as an ordinary-looking fellow—extra the bureaucrat Alec Leamas of John le Carré’s fiction then The menacing 007 of Ian Fleming’s. <Right here> is a trailer for the second collection.
<IMDb.com> (Amazon.com; Prime Video; Shout Manufacturing unit TV; different platforms) 1967 [TVPG]
After which there’s The Prisoner. If Patrick McGoohan and George Markstein, screenwriter for The Odessa File, had got down to make a timeless cult traditional about subjectivity, the character of id, the surveillance state, and the person versus the collective, they couldn’t have carried out any higher.
McGoohan took the thought of the disgruntled spy from Hazard Man and ran with it. The opening sequence, which had slight variations main into every episode, launched the story. (One might be seen <right here>.) An unnamed intelligence agent (McGoohan) throws a letter of resignation down on the desk of his superior (Markstein), adopted by his slammed fist. He stalks out and drives to his flat. As he’s packing a suitcase, fuel comes via his keyhole and he passes out, waking up apparently nonetheless in his condo—however when he appears to be like out the window he’s nowhere he has ever seen earlier than.
McGoohan’s agent is indistinguishable from John Drake, however the units are very colourful in distinction to Hazard Man‘s black-and-white mise-en-scène. The Prisoner was filmed at Portmeirion in Wales <official web site>, a resort group additionally used within the first episode of Hazard Man, when it stood in for the Italian countryside and got here to the eye of McGoohan.
The “village” has a self-contained air about it, like a mannequin railroad structure. It is rather colourful, as are the outfits worn by the villagers, additionally ostensibly ex-secret companies, who appear to be compliant. However when our agent, now often known as Quantity Six, hears an alert throughout which everybody stays nonetheless, a large white balloon comes rolling via, smothering one who’s working from it, the identical balloon that later thwarts his personal first escape try.
A collection of “Quantity Twos,” performed by such actors as Eric Portman and, notably, Leo McKern (Rumpole of the Bailey), relentlessly grill Quantity Six whereas he plots his escape. “Why did you stop,” they start. He counters by demanding to know, Who’s Quantity One?
“You…are Quantity Six.”
The Prisoner is an odyssey, albeit one the place Odysseus can’t even depart Troy till he finds out who the gods really are, which reply will finally take him residence. <Right here> is a recent trailer.
Subsequent time, there’s no enterprise like present enterprise: Orson Welles frightens America and Superman commits suicide—or does he?
(Pete Hummers is a participant within the Amazon Providers LLC Associates Program, an affiliate promoting program designed to earn charges by linking Amazon.com and affiliate websites. This provides nothing to Amazon’s costs.)
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