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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'A Man Called Sloane' was a short-lived Quinn Martin show which starred
Robert Conrad as trendy antiques dealer Thomas Remington Sloane The
Third, also a Priority One secret agent for the counter-espionage
organisation U.N.I.T. On entering a secret base behind the facade of a
toy boutique in California, he would be briefed by The Director ( Dan
O'Herlihy ). U.N.I.T.'s opponents were KARTEL, a mysterious syndicate
of arms dealers bent on world domination. Each week, the organisation
would attempt to seize power with the aid of some improbable new
super-weapon, such as a tuning fork that gave off sonic waves, killer
locusts, or a laser satellite designed to destroy specific targets.
Conrad replaced Robert Logan, who'd played 'Sloane' ( rather badly ) in the pilot. The veteran actor brought to it the laconic style he'd used in the hit '60's series 'Wild, Wild West'.
Ji-Tu Cumbuka returned as the 'Jaws'-like henchman 'Torque' ( steel hand instead of teeth ), even though the pilot ended with him falling to his death. As if this was not confusing enough, Torque was now a good guy, working alongside Sloane the same way Illya Kuryakin did with Napoleon Solo! The lovely Karen Purcill played 'Kelly', the show's 'Q' equivalent. The impressive list of guest-stars included Robert Culp, Morgan Fairchild, Roddy McDowall, and Monte Markham. Michelle Carey was the sexy voice of E.F.F.I.E. the computer.
This fun show was modelled on the Roger Moore Bond films of the time, which meant that there were laughs amongst the girls and gadgets. It was screened in America at around the same time as the first season of the Gil Gerard 'Buck Rogers' and mirrored it inasmuch as it did for espionage what Buck did for science fiction.
Conrad has been rather uncomplimentary about 'Sloane' in interviews since, describing it as 'terrible'. Why then did he direct one episode? I have the series on D.V.D., and find it rather more enjoyable than the lame 'Wild Wild West' reunion T.V. movies he did the early 80's.
'Sloane' was a pretty decent show. It was just not given a chance to find an audience.
Robert Conrad's best depiction of a secret agent was in Wild Wild West, when he was leaner, but not meaner. Playing a modern-day James Bond in this series, Conrad seems miscast. He has none of the charm or the body to make the acrobatics here look credible. Would you believe (Sorry about that, Max!) Conrad fighting karate-crazy girls and ninjas, flying through the air with pulley-aided strong cords, out-of-this-world weaponry, rather than usual fare of fisticuffs against scruffy ruffians (as it was on West)? Sure there were gadgets and explosions in West, but at least they made some sort of sense. He wasn't hip enough to pull this off but to its credit, the show is campy.
This show wasn't terrible, but it wasn't good. I was a big fan of The
Wild Wild West and the spy genre in general, so i had high hopes for
this series when it premiered. Sadly, it was underwhelming. There were
occasional moments, but I kept waiting for something cool to happen.
Unfortunately, it was severely limited by budget and mediocre writing.
Robert Conrad was OK in the role, but it lacked depth and he seemed to be going through he motions. Ji-Tu Cumbuka was fairly interesting as the reformed henchman turned partner, Torque, with his metal hand, of multiple uses. Otherwise, it was pretty bland. KARTEL never seemed that menacing and there wasn't much scope to the series, not to mention it was played a little too tongue-in-cheek.
It was a nice idea, but poorly executed and probably would have been better suited for the 60's.
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