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Secret Agent 

Danger Man (original title)
John Drake is a special operative for M19, specialising in security assignments against any subversive element which threatened world peace.
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3   2   1   Unknown  
1967   1966   1965  

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Storyline

The lid show made Saturday evening a treat. Not only for the great opening sound track by JOHNNY Rivers, but the creative exploits of the main character John Drake. At the time it followed the spy craze created by the 2 James Bond movies made just prior to the show's debut, Dr. No and From Russia With Love. What made this show different as well was several years after it went off the air on CBS, a spin off series was crest called "The Prisoner". The show gained rave reviews during a ST run. It picked on what happens to John Drake after he quits the British Secret Service.. Somewhat dated but still both shows are exciting TV fare.

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gadget | sequel | spy | espionage | See All (4) »


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Release Date:

3 April 1965 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Secret Agent  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(47 episodes)

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(seasons 1-3)| (season 4)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Different opening credits sequences were devised for the original UK broadcasts, with episodes alternating between them. One shows Drake walking towards the camera in negative, then a sharp closeup of his eyes in positive. The second sequence starts with a closeup of Drake's eyes, then pulls back on a photograph of his complete face. See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits for the original British version of the series are only about 10 seconds long -- one of the shortest credit sequences in TV history (among shows with opening credits). The American version of the opening credits is some 3 times as long. See more »

Connections

Followed by Koroshi (1968) See more »

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User Reviews

The Best Television Can Get
8 November 2004 | by See all my reviews

Secret Agent Man

Known in the States as Secret Agent Man, Danger Man – with just a few misfire episodes, is for me, the best television in history. Better at what it does than what Seinfeld did for its genre, better even, than the BBC's The Office. 'The Best.' The stonking, pound-for-pound champion of television. Better still, than its successor, The Prisoner.

Despite what has dated, what is stunning about Danger Man is what has not. In a sense, it's sickeningly depressing, because the plot concerns are eerily of the moment. Right wing takeovers, identity theft, internment camps, Geneva and Rome endings for unlucky agents … and a majority of episodes concerning the Middle East, which- either through huge coincidence or prescience, relate to Iraq, Israel and Lebanon! There is even a slightly anti-Israeli cautionary tale – how likely is that, today or any day? (No turncoat is John Drake; there is a touching episode or three when Drake doesn't cut any slack to those who have sold out their country, whatever their sad stories.)

Despite rumors, Patrick McGoohan was apparently never in British Intelligence. A little boxing, stage acting and chicken farming, yes; spying, no. McGoohan certainly fits the perception of the professional spy: Incredibly handsome, tall, and tough – but separate that image - also, humane, free of racial prejudiced and pro-women. Drake uses brain and brawn- he throws a good right hander, for example, though his pathetically slow running, is thankfully, kept to a minimum. (For a real laugh, dig Sean Connery running in You Only Live Twice. These spy cats ain't sprinters.)

As has been noted countless times, it's rather remarkable, that the program's standard of writing –in an average episode, as high as a good film - was maintained, week in, week out. Rare duff episodes aside, Danger Man is that rare show with consistently great and novel writing. Many episodes demand repeated viewing.

The Danger man formula included fine photography. There are exotic exteriors – McGoohan who incidentally, co-wrote several of the better episodes, let his camera people fly around the world and film whatever they liked. The interiors were filmed - I believe at Shepperton and with a few conspicuous exceptions, (some 'beaches' set in the Caribbean are dire) the interiors are HIGHLY convincing. Thus, the exterior shots of the Alps are followed by cuts to Switzerland- at- Shepperton, if you will; just marvelous; though the lighting of course, never matched.

In most episodes, Drake meets his masters for assignments in a variety of London locales. Brilliant. Are our own security services this smart? The wonderful harpsichord tune, an inevitable shot of a jet plane landing God knows where and we know: 'Here comes Drake, the brainy detective to once again, prevail with his wits – with a little help from dem fists!'

The foresight is creepy. McGoohan, who must be a peacenik, seems, from almost 40 years ago, to warn us across the chasm of time, of the dangers of a society under constant surveillance, plagued by right-wing lunatics, both harassed and sold out. A society with an uncertain future. Using his masterful Shakespearian voice (he was voted tops on the stage in 60') a fairly good range and some specialties – drunks are particularly good; McGoohan and company are very formulaic per 1960's norm – but what a wonderful brew they've concocted.

The guest stars are, almost without exception, excellent and diverse. So good that when a well-known British character actor is doing the world's worst Scottish accent; somehow, the plot flows on. The terrible attempts at a burr are in fact, an unadvertised, campy bonus. Surprises abound from a talented cast of stars – in many cases, easily eclipsing the performances of name actors from the big screen.

In the final analysis, it is Drake, Pat McGoohan and the writers, himself included, which make this the best show in the short history of TV. Patriot and lover of Britain to the end, handy man with gadgets, hater of guns and promiscuous sex, these are part of the appeal. But it is the palpable sense of doubled standards worrying Drake that is the real star shower: 'How bad is the East,' and, 'Does the murder' (yes, murder) 'that our side gets up to … is it justified in a war on, among other things, terror and is the price sustainable?'

The best episode is a pure fantasy rather than a espionage or political thriller. It is a tale of identity theft involving perfect plastic surgery – impossible in 1964, yet today's news. That episode, 'Slay It With Flowers,' with its dazzling guest stars – foremost, young Rachel Herbert with a stellar turn as the innkeeper's daughter, is probably the best that television will ever be A plot torn from today's headlines … fine acting, palpable danger, and above all John Drake's creed that people who don't deserve to get hurt, do.

But not if he can help it. And help he does.

Dangerman is here!

** If you can find the last two episodes in color, you're in for a treat. While most reviewers find them stilted, (McGoohan lost interest after filming the episodes and immediately ended the series) I beg to differ. The color is great and one scene, set amongst Kabuki 'dolls' one of which is a very real, murderous human, is one of the finest things I've ever seen attempted.


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