The Champions: Season 1, Episode 16

Shadow of the Panther (15 Jan. 1969)

TV Episode  -   -  Adventure | Sci-Fi | Thriller
6.4
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Having contacted Tremayne from Haiti to report disturbing behaviour scientist Ralph Charters dies, apparently of fright, with his hair turned white. Sharron is sent to his hotel the ... See full summary »

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Title: Shadow of the Panther (15 Jan 1969)

Shadow of the Panther (15 Jan 1969) on IMDb 6.4/10

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Cast

Episode credited cast:
Stuart Damon ...
Alexandra Bastedo ...
William Gaunt ...
Anthony Nicholls ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Christopher Carlos ...
Doctor
Kenneth Gardnier ...
Waiter
Zia Mohyeddin ...
Prengo
...
David Crayley
Tania ...
Girl in Red
Tony Wall ...
Riley
Hedger Wallace ...
Charters
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Having contacted Tremayne from Haiti to report disturbing behaviour scientist Ralph Charters dies, apparently of fright, with his hair turned white. Sharron is sent to his hotel the Kimberley, which is playing host to a gathering of international worthies, some of whom seem superstitiously alarmed by Dumballa, a local practitioner of voodoo, who performs a cabaret act called the Shadow of the Panther. Sharron teams up with journalist David Crayley, who tells her that the bigwigs seem to tell him anything he asks as if they were in a trance, but later he too appears to have succumbed to the voodoo when he fails to recognize Sharron. By the time Craig and Richard arrive on the island, Sharron also appears to be in a very zombic state. How can they get her and the others ,back to normal and defeat the exponents of the voodoo? Written by don @ minifie-1

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15 January 1969 (UK)  »

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(RCA Sound Recording)

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The power of Damballah!
13 July 2012 | by (Ambrosia) – See all my reviews

One of the pleasures of viewing archive programmes is the occasional sighting of an artiste who went to greater things - Oliver Reed and Julie Christie both appeared in 'The Saint', for instance, Sir Anthony Hopkins guested in 'Department S', and Donald Sutherland notched up roles in 'The Saint' and 'Man In A Suitcase' before going on to star in the iconic army comedy 'M#A#S#H' in 1970. He also found the time to menace 'The Champions'.

'Shadow Of The Panther' is by Tony Williamson, whom I regard as the show's best writer. It opens in Haiti with a man ( Hedger Wallace ), apparently frightened out of his wits, running down a corridor and into a lift. The shadow of a panther appears on the wall, and he drops down dead. When Sharron gets to examine his corpse, his hair has turned white! While she waits for Richard and Craig to join her, she decides to investigate on her own. The deceased was 'Ralph Charters', NEMESIS scientist. Journalist 'David Crayley' ( Sutherland ) tells her that the hotel Charters stayed at - and where he died - is currently occupied by V.I.P.'s, including a U.S. Senator. Crayley finds a 'wonga bag' in his drink - which in voodoo parlance is akin to a death threat. When he next steps out of the elevator, he looks as though he has seen a ghost! Furthermore, he brushes off Sharron. She takes a ride in the elevator, only to be captured. The other Champions arrive to find Sharron has also been 'zombified', and seems not to remember who they are!

The idea of voodoo being used as the cover for an espionage operation was done four years later in the Bond film 'Live & Let Die'. What is really going on here is that Crayley - masquerading as voodoo god 'Damballah' - is secretly brainwashing V.I.P.'s to become political assassins. Tremayne is one of their targets as Charters had spilt the beans on the NEMESIS organisation. Crayley's base of operations is a secret room on the ninth floor accessible only by pressing the lift buttons in a particular order.

'Panther' re-teamed Sutherland with director Freddie Francis, with whom he had worked on 'Dr.Terrors House Of Horrors' ( 1964 ) and the 'Man In A Suitcase' episode 'Which Way Did He Go McGill?'. Speaking of Francis, given his reputation as a horror film maker, it is surprising to find that 'Panther' is nowhere near as creepy as it should have been. The climax in which Richard and Craig are menaced by brainwashed zombies, for instance, would have worked better if the corridors had not been so brightly lit, and the zombies in question had not been wearing brightly-coloured robes which makes them look like The Great Soprendo.

Particularly good - and sadly underused - is Zia Mohyeddin as oily hotel manager 'Raoul Prengo', clad in what looks like one of Marty Hopkirk's old suits.

Sharron gets more screen time than the others, for once, and carries the episode nicely.


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