"Secret Agent" The Black Book (TV Episode 1965) Poster

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The Time Has Come, The Walrus Said...
... to talk of many things...

Yes, that's a quote from this episode, with John Drake getting off a line from the famous 'Walrus and the Carpenter' passage in Lewis Carol's Classic 'Through the Looking Glass'. He tosses it out by way of introduction to bad girl 'Simone', played by the eye catching Georgina Ward. It's Drake's way of telling Simone she needs to 'fess up regarding her various illicit doings.

One of the highlights of this very decent episode is the chemistry between McGoohan/Drake and Ward/Simone. Simone is the femme fatale (a fitting French phrase, given the Paris setting of this episode) that has perhaps the largest impact on our spy master of any female in the series. John seems to consider, at least for just a fleeting moment, her invitation to run away together.

Another program note is that Patrick McGoohan pulls off what is arguably his coolest disguise when he appears as a chauffeur, accessorized with metal-framed dark-lensed sunglasses and a wicked looking drivers cap.

Musically, the short stab of a melancholy trumpet upon the episode's commencement informs us that a sad table is being set for the story that follows. Music director Edwin Astley never fails to get it right.

We're actually here today though to talk of many things in the way of spy gadgets. And boy oh boy, this installment has a few. First we see a miniature tracking device put to use, which allows Drake to shadow a certain case full of money. A few seconds later we are introduced to a pocket sized wireless microphone which allows the victim delivering the ransom keep Drake augmented as to where he's being led to. And of course John has a receiver for that microphone. In this episode the receiver takes the form a typewriter. Up til now the only spy typewriter we've seen is from 'Colony 3', which in that case doubled as a camera.

This typewriter however has a speaker protruding from the guts, letting Drake hear what is spoken into the roving microphone transmitter. Plus it emits a beeping noise that gets louder as he closes in on the tracking device. I think they got a little sloppy here. There was no need to disguise a receiver as a typewriter, given that Drake is essentially alone and has no need for subterfuge (another exquisite French word). Moreover, any audio/video nerd can tell you that what they are trying to pass off as a 'speaker' is in fact a small round microphone. Oh well, it was a less knowledgeable audience back in the mid-60's. Even so, I'd rather look at what Danger Man makes typewriters do as opposed to what David Cronenberg does to them in his films.

Finally, the cigarette lighter that takes pictures makes a cameo appearance, and Drake gets surreptitious photos of 1, 2, 3 bad guys. This brings us to a grand total of 15 unique spy gadgets so far in the 1/2 and 1 hour series.

I really do love this episode.
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This guy ain't James Bond...
MartinHafer6 June 2014
When you first see John Drake in this episode, he zips off to a meeting- -in a Mini (perhaps an Austin or Morris Mini--a precursor for the modern Mini Cooper)! As I've noticed in many other shows, this character is no James Bond! Normally, it's because he doesn't usually kill people, rarely uses a gun and NEVER makes out with women--but driving a Mini is amazingly surreal!

A man is being blackmailed and has already made several payments. However, his brother-in-law (the General) knows about Drake and has requested that he be put on the case--and Drake realizes he has no choice but take this seemingly unimportant case. Oddly, however, it DOES end up being a Drake sort of case, as a Soviet defector, Sergei, it behind all this. What's next? See the show.

This is a decent though VERY talky episode. It's very low on action and it not among the better shows in the series. Not bad, really--just not one that will stand out for you.
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