While attending Oxford University, Mark Fraser is recruited as an agent by Department Six of British Intelligence. In time he becomes one of their top "eliminators." After several years, he...
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While attending Oxford University, Mark Fraser is recruited as an agent by Department Six of British Intelligence. In time he becomes one of their top "eliminators." After several years, he resigns in disgust, marries his girlfriend, Jill Marshall, and retires to the Scottish Highlands. While shopping one afternoon, Jill is kidnapped by five German terrorists and brought to Spain. When Mark receives a telephone call from the terrorists, instructing him to assassinate a right-wing German publisher, he is forced to employ his old skills as a hit man to ensure Jill's safety. The series depicts Fraser's attempts to find and rescue Jill -- knowing that the terrorists are unlikely to let her remain alive once he has fulfilled their demands.
I first saw this back when it was originally broadcast in 1980, and recently bought it (on VHS!) for nostalgia.
Time hasn't been kind to it in some ways, I have to admit: it's not exactly Bourne. But then, giving it the benefit of the doubt, it is a BBC show rather than a big-budget action movie. And at the time, simply being shot in Spain made it enormously exotic! It's very much a Cold War piece, with the KGB and a West German communist terror group on one side, and the harrumphing upper-class Englishmen of MI6 on the other, with retired assassin Mark Fraser and his kidnapped wife Jill caught in the middle. But why are the KGB apparently trying to help Fraser get his wife back from the terrorists?
So it's intrigue and conspiracies and double-crosses, punctuated at regular intervals with violence, all filmed against attractive Spanish scenery. By modern standards it's slow-paced, but it rarely gets boring
it has almost a proto-24 feel, as whenever things get draggy new
characters deliver plot twists and push Fraser to sunny new locations.
Mary Tamm as Jill does a good job as the far-from-helpless heroine; if not for the plot requiring that she isn't rescued until the end of the story, she would have escaped all by herself early on! Of the other characters, Fraser doesn't have to do much more than be determined, while KGB colonel Grigor is an amiable not-quite-adversary.
It's a product of its time; if remade today, there would be a lot more angst from Fraser about being dragged back into the world of espionage, and Jill would probably be far more shocked to learn about his unsavoury past! But it's still a watchable piece of old-school spy action.
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