John Drake is a special operative for NATO, specializing in security assignments against any subversive element which threatened world peace. The series featured exotic locales from all ... See full summary »
Secret information has been leaking from the US embassy in Vienna. John Drake plants a fake document with one of two people who knew of the info, US agent Logan, who locks it away in a safe. When the...
A foreign senator is murdered in the presence of his blind relative, Josetta. Rioting ensues due to a rumor that the American government was behind the killing, and secret agent John Drake is sent in...
Two years after the original "Danger Man" series concluded, it was revamped and retconned. The series returned in a longer format. (1 hour/episode instead of 30 minutes). John Drake was now... See full summary »
John Steed and his new accomplices Purdey and Gambit find themselves facing new and deadly dangers in the bizarre world of espionage. Mixing fantasy with a darker edge, the trio face ... See full summary »
English Lord Brett Sinclair and American Danny Wilde are both wealthy playboys, they are teamed together by Judge Fullton to investigate crimes which the police can't solve. These two men ... See full summary »
McGill (known as "Mac") was a former U.S. intelligence agent based in London. After being thrown out of the agency for something he did not do, he finds his "false" reputation has preceded ... See full summary »
David Callan is the top agent/assassin for the Security Service (British counterintelligence), but he is an embittered man who performs his duties "for Queen and country" under duress. This... See full summary »
The Protectors were Harry Rule, the Contessa di Contini and Paul Buchet, three freelance troubleshooters who ran an international crime fighting agency. Based in London, Harry was the ... See full summary »
Nyree Dawn Porter,
Jeff Randall and Marty Hopkirk are private detectives who specialize in divorce cases. Their long-running partnership seems to come to an abrupt end when Marty is killed by a hit-and-run, ... See full summary »
An elite department within Interpol, Department S inherited those cases which the other member groups had failed to solve. The brains of the group was Jason King, a hedonistic maverick who ... See full summary »
John Drake is a special operative for NATO, specializing in security assignments against any subversive element which threatened world peace. The series featured exotic locales from all over the world, as his assignments frequently took him to Africa, Latin America, and the Far East. Written by
Marg Baskin <firstname.lastname@example.org> UPDATED U.N. Owen
John Drake says the phrase "I'm obliged" in virtually every episode; the catch phrase did not return in the later 1964 series. See more »
[Opening titles narration]
Every government has its Secret Service branch: America, CIA; France, Deuxieme Bureau; England, MI5. NATO also has its own. A messy job? Well that's when they usually call on me, or someone like me. Oh yes: my name is Drake. John Drake.
See more »
There are so many things Ralph Smart got right in the earliest Danger Man, it's almost a pity he couldn't stick to the commercially problematic 30-minute format. The stories are taut, clever Cold War mystery-thrillers. Within the hurried time constraints it isn't all plot as Smart finds room for characterization and texture, even to interject some interesting ideas and questions. A lot of this is done by way of the mercurial Patrick McGoohan but Smart had no shortage of talented collaborators in directors and actors.
McGoohan's early performances are fluid yet quirky. While he projects a kind of reserved elan, he also draws on a trove of itchy, improvisational mannerisms that allow us into more than a few nooks--not all of them pleasant--of John Drake's anxious cynicism. (McGoohan is to the TV spook what the late Jeremy Brett was to Sherlock Holmes: a perturbable, high-strung exotic, haunted but smirking.) I prefer him here to the more celebrated Prisoner, in fact, where he's customarily arch and lacks the variety of situation and emotional register. His narration is another treat, delivered in one of the most delectably ironic voices in dramatic TV history.
The writing bests most on TV, then or now. The tone in the better scripts is wry, veering toward acid, with more than a hint of melancholy. This is not the Cold War as a stage for Kennedyesque moxie, and certainly not the idiotic glamorization found in Bond, but rather as in Le Carré, a stage for the peeling away of deceptions that are as likely to originate at home as in dens abroad. This is not to say it isn't above the occasional stereotype; see, for instance, the leering North Koreans in the episode The Honeymooners. But a mark of this generally very humane work is that it more typically treats nationalistic conceptions of the enemy with skepticism, and even pits Drake in frustration against his own morally ambiguous NATO bosses. Nor is the day always won, and some seeming victories prove Pyhrric. How refreshing this is to watch in 2007, for obvious reasons.
The production design, fairly cheapo and simplistic, never detracts (charmingly, old file inserts make do for exterior locations) and in fact the studio sets somehow hold surprise delights: here a gloomy early 60s facsimile of a Munich street recalling Carol Reed's chiaroscuro in The Third Man, there the lobby of an International Style hotel with its sexy mid-century modernism. That it's all in gorgeous high-contrast black and white only deepens the interest: shadow play for shadowy deeds.
A word too about the memorable score by Albert Elms, particularly his incidental music. The understated jazz is part and parcel of the sensibility here--aloof and insinuating. There is so much intelligence pulsing through Elms' music and the series as a whole that it seems vaguely unlikely; watching this work, I can't help but admire its virtues while ruing what's become of the medium.
Danger Man in this early incarnation is grown-up art on TV, the likes of which in the U.S., anyway, we rarely hope to find today outside of HBO, practically its last refuge. A treasure.
20 of 21 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?