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|Index||11 reviews in total|
This show never laughs at itself (setting it apart from most of the
James Bond and follow-on genre shows). Instead, it projects the
inimitable Patrick McGoohan as a consistently efficacious hero:
fast-thinking, innovative, ultra-capable, tenaciously-focused on the
mission, yet when achieving the mission is not enough, he's able to
think outside the box, to re-define his goals and achieve success in a
For a little boy starving to see a hero on television, "Danger Man" (and the subsequent "Secret Agent Man") was just what I needed. A hundred times over the years, facing my own moments of challenge, I remembered how John Drake had handled things. Nevermind the detail of his job being a "secret agent," the essential of this show is: a man of quintessential skill and reason who uses his mind to take him over, under, around or through all obstacles -- and *that* is what you take away from every episode.
It's food for the soul.
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.
A low key, but absorbing, TV series of half-hour episodes, it is the first
of three putatively related series, the latter two being (a) Secret Agent
Man (hour long episodes), and (c) The Prisoner.
In the series, our protagonist John Drake (played by Patrick McGoohan) is an English spy - elegant, skilled, sophisticated, and never at a loss. He breezes through his weekly problem, and we enjoy every second of the short ride!
In my opinion, the series was the undisputed master of its era, and I loved its whimsy, its thoughtfulness, and good plot lines, simply and starkly delivered. The later Harry Palmer movies (with Michael Caine - for example, The Ipcress File) was reminiscent of this same style - austere story line, strongly built around its main character, employing few cinematic effects, yet full of impact.
It has been years since I have seen this series, but it it is still one I remember very fondly.
patrick mcgoohans's dicey 'new englander' accent notwithstanding, he's
in fine form here. fast paced and inventive plots, exotic locales, and
the extremely moral hero john drake all make the first series of danger
man great television.
though he doesn't bed down with every girl he comes across, there's more than enough sexual tension to go around, as every female within a thirty-foot radius ends up throwing herself at johnny d. not keen on guns, drake's a master fighter and the resulting fight scenes are always fun to watch. his gadgets are realistic, much more believable than the ones used by bond or the man from wherever.
the very first episode, 'a view from the villa', takes us to portmeirion, PMG's inspiration for the village in 'the prisoner'. another one of the best television programs ever made.
you'll see a host of familiar faces in supporting roles here too. donald pleasance, barbara shelley--all kinds of great actors popped up on dm from time to time. by all means, if you're a fan of espionage shows, danger man should be high on your list of must-sees. it's got all the chewy goodness and none of the camp that marred so many spy programs in the sixties.
"DANGER MAN"-"SECRET AGENT"-Produced by ITC Productions. The Half-Hour
Episodes,30 minutes each,1960-1961,black and white. The Hour Long
Episodes,60 minutes each,1964-1966,black and white. Episodes ran on
British Television from 1960-1961,1964-1966. Episodes that ran on
American Television from 1965-1966,CBS-TV.
Out of all the espionage shows that came out in the 1960's,this show was among the tops of the list and set the standard for the next batch of espionage,intrigue shows to follow suit. This was indeed a highly entertaining series that was full of quick dialogue,twist endings,and some of the most inventive story lines anywhere. Besides,this was way better than James Bond! The series starred Patrick McGoohan as British secret agent John Drake. As for some of the episodes,this series was one action-packed show which feature McGoohan traveling to certain parts of the world to handle situations given to him by his superiors under orders of his Majesty's Secret Service. This was a show that had a lot of action-packed fighting scenes(where Patrick McGoohan's boxing experience shows in some of the episodes)which some were very inventive and very useful in taking out the baddies. The gadgets were amazing and for the most part which could actually exist,and are brought in as part of a plan in some dangerous situations. The gadgets were really cool items like The Exploding Pen,The Watch with a hidden camera and lots more cool stuff! And had a fare for a ladies as well and also show it in some of the love scenes where he trades affairs for sex secrets on the show and in some segments made him a detail well-crafted character. As for the diabolical villains,Drake had the deal with the evil doers out to destroy the world,but saves the day and the organization he works for.
ABOUT DANGER MAN-SECRET AGENT............... The series consisted of four seasons done in a unusual manner. In the first season,televised from 1960-1961,Patrick McGoohan's character of John Drake is a NATO intelligence officer working for the UN in New York. There were only 39 half-hour episodes filmed in black and white and some of the earlier Danger Man material hasn't been seen since its original broadcast,and most recently they are now on DVD for your enjoyment. The series was cancelled after its first season,and it was not until 1964 that it was reprised,when the "spy craze" of the time exploded with not only James Bond 007,but for every aspects of a lot of television shows that followed including,"The Avengers","The Man From U.N.C.L.E.",and so many more. It was here during its new format and under its second season,that John Drake not longer works for NATO,but for the British Government Intelligence Agency,"M9",which consisted of hour long episodes for seasons two and three(combined total of 45 episodes),which are filmed in black and white. It wasn't until the summer of 1965,that American audiences were interested in this series as well seeing the exploits of John Drake each week,and from that period in 1965,the ratings soared in which the "Danger Man" was shown as an summer replacement here in the states. The last two episodes of the series,also an hour long each,were filmed in color,and these two episodes were combined into a two hour TV-movie entitled "Koroshi" from 1966. This was actually a compilation of two Danger Man episodes,"Koroshi",and "Shinda Shima". Unfortunably,this was the last of the series,before Patrick McGoohan would made the transition from this role to the next series,"The Prisoner". The storyline deals with John Drake who is being sent to Japan to investigate the murders of two British agents who were under the society of the Koroshi who in turn plan to execute world leaders. However,Drake is sent to destroy the organization and at the end becomes sufficient in destroying the society and from there Drake sets out to destroy the society that is handling the affairs. If you wonder where the producers for the Sean Connery/James Bond thriller,"You Only Live Twice" came up the ideas,then you'll see why the last episodes of Danger Man were brilliant to the core.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm not sure what the other reviewer was talking about as far as
Drake's seducing women. On the contrary, one of the most interesting
aspects of Drake's character is his apparent ambivalence towards
romance. As dashing and debonair as he is, Drake does not even so much
as kiss anyone during the entire seriessomething which actually adds
to the sexual tension he exudes. There are several times when he flirts
with women in order to get the information he wants, but he always
manages to skirt their advances and slip away, leaving broken hearts in
his wake. (Incidentally, Patrick McGoohan twice turned down the role of
James Bond because he didn't want to perform the sex scenes. Danger
Man's Drake is sexless without being prudishhe's a charming and
captivating spy, not a gigolo.)
For having such outdated spying technology, Danger Man manages to dodge being laughable, probably because of its focus on strategy and Drake's cleverness to capture criminals, etc. Admittedly, some episodes are better than othersthe first couple were not my favorites, but they get much better.
Interesting aspects of the show are:
Each episode takes place in at least one different foreign country, and many times the location is ambiguous, with the country never being stated
Conversations that occur in foreign languages are not translated, even when they may be helpful to understanding the plot (I still enjoy those episodes that have conversations I don't understand, though)
Many episodes reference real world eventsfor example, the Spanish Civil War and issues with Cuba
Some episodes actually seem to express moral criticism of the government Drake works for, with him being given not enough information, time, or resources by his superiors (don't worry, this isn't a spoiler--Drake just has to work with incompetent bosses sometimes)
Overall, it's a great show for anyone who enjoys Hitchcock, The Prisoner, or vintage Bond.
Often unfairly overshadowed by it's sequel series' (Secret Agent and "The
Prisoner"). Dangerman is a kick-ass (Often literally) spy
which follows N.A.T.O. agent John Drake around the world.
The great thing about this show is it's length at just 25 minutes per episode it's the perfect thing to have on video when you want to kill a quick half-hour,
the only problem is it'll soon become a quick 4 or so hours as you watch every episode on the disc backwards searching for demonic messages from Patrick McGoohan. (?rettoP ysuB) (aet fo puc a evol dluow i eladgniD .srM, sey yhW)
It'll then develop into a quick 4 days as you roam the country abducting people and then bludgeoning them with to death with ring-binders when they refuse to participate in your home-produced screenplays.
During your 72 hour manhunt you can amuse yourself by giving your REAL name as your alias (John Drake, must have single-handedly brought about the collapse of communism by operating under such crafty Codenames as "Johnny").
While the prosecution is wondering why corpses with nametags reading "Hobbs","Keller","Hardy" and "Potter" were found in your apartment you can tell them (under oath) that although not quite as eccentric as "Secret Agent" or as downright mad as "The Prisoner" the general undercurrent of weirdness is palpable , (In Fact it comes to the fore in some of the later episodes,"The Contessa" for example features Drake being Drugged by a beutiful angel-like woman.
While your Defence lawyer rattles on about your upbringing in a racoon hive and your "Obsessive" collecting of electronic cow prodders. You can pass the time by humming "yellow submarine"AND commenting on the often sublime balance of storyline and style, of narrative and direction, of Nachos and chillypeppers.
You can inform the Large bearded man in your cell that "Dangerman" is to "the Prisoner" as the Old Testament is to Christianity. You can also tell him that you are flattered by his gift of a scented candle but you don't think of him that way.
So if you don't mind your children growing up in a Drakist temple in Southern Cambodia, or you feel your family can deal with you writing "redrum sbboH" in your finest red crayon all over their walls then Dangerman is the relig......, then Dangerman is the TELEVISION SERIES for you.
However if you harbour notions of ever Having a Career/Living over 30/feeling the wish to go outside again. Then perhaps it would be better not to watch this show.
In the "View from the Villa" agent John Drake pulls up in what looks
like an Aston Martin DB4 or DB5, thus beating Sean Connery to the punch
by several years. At least on the screen. I think it also appears in a
few other episodes, but I am not certain.
I have spent the last few years slowly catching up on this superb series via net flicks. As other reviewers have noted already the plots were nearly always excellent. The understatement and laconic delivery of Mr. McGoohan a foretelling of others who would try the same style and mostly fail, except for the wonderful Le Carre adaptions, and Mr. Caine's superb Ipcress File. The satire of Establishment figures was often very droll.
In the current editions I am getting from Netflicks the music track is provided by a powerful jazz orchestra. What happened to the superb Harpsichord jazz music that I remember from the original UK broadcasts? So much more subtle and intriguing than the blaring band arrangement, although it does have a period flavor I cant deny.
Mr. McGoohan passed away recently. I will remember him and Danger Man as one of the very influential forces in my teenage years.
The pedigree for "Danger Man" is a bit confusing. So, I'll try to make
sense of it. The show was on for one season and each episode lasted
about 23 minutes. Three years later, an hour-long series was created
and was called "The Secret Agent"--with Patrick McGoohan once again
playing an international 'fixer', John Drake. Then, after this series
ended, McGoohan made "The Prisoner"--a show which MIGHT be a sequel to
"The Secret Agent"...or it might not. This is because McGoohan's
character is not referred to by name...he's just called Number 6. And,
you aren't sure whether or not it's meant as a follow-up or not--and I
can only assume that the television folks deliberately kept it vague.
"Danger Man" begins oddly. It explains that John Drake is a sort of international agent--a guy who goes on special assignments for many NATO nations. His nationality is a bit vague and this works reasonably well since McGoohan has an American/Irish/British background, though they seem to imply he's from New England (but the accent clearly ISN'T). Each episode is set in a different locale around the world and, amazingly, the show is wrapped up in about 23 minutes. The show is very well written and interesting--and McGoohan is excellent. The only serious complaint is that the shows sometimes were too hasty and many would have benefited from an hour-long format--something they would get with "The Secret Agent". Well worth seeing and a clever show. Even the sub-par episodes are good--making it at least more consistent than "The Prisoner".
A few final observations. The DVD copy is just fine but there really are no special features or captions. Also, as an American born and raised in the Washington, DC area, the introduction makes me laugh. That's because a HUGE office building is superimposed next to the US capitol building. There IS no building this size or that looks remotely like this in DC--now or then. Very strict building codes in the city prevent such monstrosities in the District.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Overall, Danger Man is a good series. Most of the episodes are
entertaining and interesting, with good acting, action sequences,
suspense , and occasionally some interesting location shots. Patrick
McGoohan is the glue that holds the whole thing together. While he
occasionally annoyed me (usually when playing a drunk), he's a very
fine actor. He makes John Drake appropriately tough, smart, and
resourceful. The supporting casts McGoohan had to work with are
top-notch, featuring actors like Donald Pleasence, Hazel Court, Barbara
Shelley, Moira Redmond, Charles Gray, Zena Marshall, and Burt Kwouk.
There are a few episodes that are really hurt by the limited runtime,
but, on the whole, the writers/directors did a magnificent job. I feel
my overall rating of 8/10 is about right. One day soon, I'll tackle the
My five favorite episodes: - #36 Under the Lake - #27 Bury the Dead - #19 Name, Date and Place - #33 The Hired Assassin - #15 Colonel Rodriguez (with honorable mentions going to #6 The Girl in Pink Pajamas and #5 The Lovers)
And, my five least favorite episodes: - #31 The Trap - #22 The Honeymooners - #38 The Dead Man Walks - #14 The Traitor - #17 Find and Return
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