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The Twilight Zone: The Parallel (1963)
Season 4, Episode 11
9/10
Looks at a core mystery of reality. Still topical!
3 August 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Have you ever had happen to you what happened to the lead character? You have one memory if a past event. And the person who shared the event has a completely different memory? And you both KNOW you are each correct.

I have had this happen so many many times in my life. Too much to write it off to one party simply having an imperfect memory. It's not just a question of parallel (two) universes. It's infinite universes.

Science has gone down this road. Remember the Heisenberg Principal, where observing a thing changes a thing? Then, Schrodinger's Cat, where it is unknown whether the cat in the box is alive or dead, as in the cat is neither alive or dead, until the box is opened and the cat is observed (actually I always thought the smell would give it away).

Now add the idea that when the cat is observed, two timelines are spawned... one in which the cat is alive and one in which the cat is dead.

I tend to believe in these notions, partially because as noted, such discrepancies have happened to me so many times. But also because the universe is not "real" We are dreaming it. Thought is real. Reality is an illusion spawned by thought. And in an illusion anything is possible. The construct of time and space, and the paradox of the beginning of time or the end of time (and space) make more sense , because in a dream you can make up anything!
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The Twilight Zone (1959–1964)
10/10
A Template for All Fantasy and Sci-Fi Stories to Come
29 July 2019
Currently going through the entire series in order from start to finish. I "was" going to comment on how you'd be challenged not to find the seed of any sci-fi film since the mid-60s living in some Twilight Zone episode. But reviewer ratboy7a has covered that ground well in the review entitled 'IT'S A COOKBOOK!!!'.

Instead I would ask you to think about what the brilliant and prolific Rod Serling must have been going through when he was trying to keep TZ alive, and punch out episodes week after week. Like the work of many artists, like for example Star Trek TOS, like so many endeavors that were not recognized by enough people when the creative work was being produced, Rod could not have understood what a legacy TZ would become.

It looked like it was a struggle just to keep the show on the air, finding sponsors, tweaking here and there to garner a wider audience. Watching each season back-to-back you notice the changes they made just in the opening/closing credits. Serling's near diatribe in the first season opening credits the monologue was greatly reduced in season 2, condensed further in season 3, and even changed again mid-way season 3. Also, in the early shows Rod did not show himself on-screen. He had to be coaxed into it. Clearly the coaxing came from someone who recognized that Serling's surly but magnetic presence, and his fascinating presentation style would draw people in. It "personalized" the series in a way that compounded the show's attraction.

We love you Rod. May you rest in peace.
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The Twilight Zone: Little Girl Lost (1962)
Season 3, Episode 26
10/10
Comments For after You've Seen The Episide
29 July 2019
Warning: Spoilers
This episode, and an Outer Limits episode called 'The Premonition' where a military pilot crash lands and is caught in a time warp whereby most everyone else appears frozen in time but in fact are just moving imperceptibly slow, really put the hook in me as a child. I've remembered those two episodes all my life as trippy stories I couldn't stop thinking about.

This episode entitled 'Little Girl Lost' has a clever twist that indicate the writer was really thinking. Notice that it was written as only the dog, with its extra-sensory faculties, that could find the way back to the opening. Another writer may not have thought to add that twist, which puts emphasis on the notion that space-time in the other dimension was not equivalent to our 3-dimensional world.

Some pretty decent special effects as well, considering all they had back then for effects were stone knives and bear skins.

I love the criticism leveled in a review entitled 'Who you gonna call?' when they chastise this episode's writing for having a physicist as a neighbor. Like its impossible to have a physicist living next door. Dude, it's not like all physicist;s live in a physicist-only enclave. They're people just like you and me (or at least me) who need housing.

The same reviewer also reveals that his next door neighbor is a dentist, and he would never call upon his dentist if the same thing happened. Right dude. That's why YOUR house was not used in this episode. They needed a house in a hood with a physicist. Dude, they only had a half-hour to come up with a solution. There was no time to channel Einstein, or fly someone in from the Hadron Particle Accelerator project (which actually was being planned back in the 60s).

The bulk of the other reviews are dead on correct when they single out this episode as one of the best TZs ever.
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Payback (I) (1999)
8/10
Good Movie - But Only if You Understand One Thing
17 February 2019
I know it's been years since Payback was released, but after just watching it and then reading the reviews, I have a different take than others. This is a terrible movie. No. Wait. It's a stupid movie. That's more accurate. It's a really stupid movie. For one thing you have the hero/anti-hero overcoming his foes in completely unbelievable scenarios where in fact the hero should be dead. Not Matrix-like unbelievable as with so many Matrix ripoffs were the protagonist moves in super human ways. Rather, impossible situations where the odds are stacked so badly there is just no way out, yet stretching the viewers ability to suspend their disbelief to its very limits, the good guy prevails.

Until you realize it's all in fun. The movie is so over the top it's funny. Between the film apparently taking itself too seriously, and Mel Gibson's usual tongue n' cheek performance, I was able to tolerate, and even enjoy, the film as a comedy.

Where Payback really hooked me though is when Gibson's character kills a man in cold blood. True, the man is a villain, but he is not directly a threat to Gibson at the moment, which is when the hero (or anti-hero in this case) is usually justified in killing, and the audience is forgiving of that. But in this case Mel kills a man who is wounded and lying helplessly on the floor. He shoots him in the head! Loved it!! To me this is when the film crossed the Rubicon, and I started paying closer attention.

Payback is clearly not one of Mel Gibson's best films. But there is a hell of a lot of famous actors playing some fun roles, and with Mel himself, unlike the movie as a whole, not taking himself seriously, the movie was quite tolerable. Definitely a one-time watcher though. If you need more after seeing Payback I'd recommend the original version, Pointblank with Lee Marvin. Far more nuanced, and an ending with a far more relevant point to make at the end.
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About Elly (2009)
9/10
All Washington Politicians Should Be Required To View This Film
4 November 2018
Why? Because the movie illustrates that the people of Iran are just like us (Americans). They are human beings with egos and emotions and the same basic needs as Americans. If the folks that pull the strings regarding if/when America makes war on Iran see this film maybe they will get a clue.

btw - this very authentic film demonstrates once again that actors in "foreign films" so often turn in a performance more realistic than their Hollywood counterparts.
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Danger Man (1960–1962)
10/10
Danger Man vs I Spy
10 January 2016
If you've never watched the "Spy TV" of the 60s you are in for a treat. Two of the ones I especially enjoyed were the American based 'I Spy' series, starring the inimitable Bill Cosby and the show's co-creator Robert Culp, and the British based 'Danger Man' series (known as 'Secret Agent' in the US) starring the enigmatic Patrick McGoohan. Comparing I Spy to Danger Man helps ferret out the strengths of both shows.

To set a context, Danger Man came out in 1960. It was pre-James Bond, pre-I Spy, and pre-most anything else in the genre. Danger Man, which began life as a ½ hour production and later morphed into a 1 hour show in 1964, launched the first of the solo, lone wolf-esk, righter-of-wrong characters with that all important ultra-cool substrate. 6'2" consummate actor Patrick McGoohan is secret agent John Drake. Just as Peter Falk fully embodied 'Columbo' (a show that received both McGoohan and Culp as guest stars) it is impossible to imagine anyone other than McGoohan in the John Drake role. As with I Spy's Kelly Robinson & Alexander Scott, Danger Man's Drake traveled the world, engaging in high intrigue across other lands and within other cultures.

And it is the traveling element that let's us draw our first distinction between I Spy and Danger Man. I Spy was shot on location! With few exceptions, Danger Man was shot in the studio, with stock footage of other countries cleverly blended in. But I Spy was truly shot on location. They actually took the crew to Italy, to Greece, to Spain and to Asia. When you're watching I Spy you are getting a glimpse of what it looked like around the world in the 60s. In my view this is one of the best reasons to go through the series. It is 'boots on the ground' realism as we follow Robinson and Scott on their world-wide adventures.

I Spy does not hold up as well as Danger Man. The latter had very tight scripts, thanks in large part to the constant involvement of the show's creator and writing contributor Ralph Smart, as well as strong input from McGoohan. This may be hard to believe but I don't think I've ever seen a bad Danger Man. I Spy on the other hand sprouted a few stinker episodes. There is one reason for this; weak writing. Robert Culp actually discusses the show's writing in the commentary track he recorded for several episodes. The concept of I Spy was great, with Culp and Cosby adeptly pulling off the playful banter that was the substrate of the show. But the thing was, the writers often didn't get it. They often wrote *under* the show (scripts were often loose and full of plot holes).

However, the chemistry of Culp and Cosby, the locations shooting with its voyeuristic look at the 60s is without compare. I don't think I'd buy the whole series, but there are some great episodes. Conversely, I do own the entire Danger Man series. If you check it out don't overlook the earlier ½ hr series. It is surprisingly well done. They somehow managed to contain an integral story arc in that 28 or so minutes. The intro of this first series also has a very Bond-like McGoohan introducing himself as "Drake .... John Drake". This, two years before Sean Connery introduced himself as Bond ... James Bond in Dr. No. It should be noted too that McGoohan was offered the James Bond role but turned it down.

The last contrasting feature I can think to bring up is the use of firearms. Patrick McGoohan, who was a very moral man and had a heavy influence on the John Drake character, rarely used a gun. He wanted a family show, with minimal violence and sex. Drake was all about brains over brawn, and thanks to great writing the gun element is not missed. Scott and Robinson are more conventional spys and are rarely caught not packing. The pair are somewhat discreet with their use of unnecessary gun play however, so I would say this difference in the shows is less about any I Spy violence and more about the extra work required by the Danger Man writing staff to get Drake out of a jam without the quick and easy plot device afforded by a gun.

Music-wise I Spy and Danger Man are on similar footing, with memorable scores for both series. The 1960-62 ½ hr Danger Man has a punchy, jazzy theme, with an even punchier theme accompanying the 1964-66 1 hr version (sold in the USA as Secret Agent, with the unforgettable Johnny Rivers theme). I absolutely love the I Spy theme as well, which rests nicely on the opening visuals where Kelly Robinson, in the blink of an eye transforms from a racket swinging tennis bum to an armed spy, taking the shot, and disappearing through the doorway formed by the upper case "I" in the title. So, a total of four themes... all of them winners (as is true of so many 60s TV shows).

ps - Given the claim made about Danger Man being one of the first spy dramas with a super cool agent, it should be noted that a black & white production of Ian Fleming's 'Casino Royale' was aired in the 1950s on live TV in America. You can find this short but excellent production included in the extras on the DVD for the 1967 parody version of (ASIN:B00005JL0I) Casino Royale starring Peter Sellers. In another interesting parallel between John Drake and James Bond, the Bond in this 50's production is an American working for the CIA. Likewise the early Danger Man series had John Drake also portrayed as an American, albeit working for NATO. All subsequent Drake/Bond characters were of course British.
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Secret Agent (1964–1967)
10/10
Danger Man vs I Spy
10 January 2016
If you've never watched the "Spy TV" of the 60s you are in for a treat. Two of the ones I especially enjoyed were the American based 'I Spy' series, starring the inimitable Bill Cosby and the show's co-creator Robert Culp, and the British based 'Danger Man' series (known as 'Secret Agent' in the US) starring the enigmatic Patrick McGoohan. Comparing I Spy to Danger Man helps ferret out the strengths of both shows.

To set a context, Danger Man came out in 1960. It was pre-James Bond, pre-I Spy, and pre-most anything else in the genre. Danger Man, which began life as a ½ hour production and later morphed into a 1 hour show in 1964, launched the first of the solo, lone wolf-esk, righter-of-wrong characters with that all important ultra-cool substrate. 6'2" consummate actor Patrick McGoohan is secret agent John Drake. Just as Peter Falk fully embodied 'Columbo' (a show that received both McGoohan and Culp as guest stars) it is impossible to imagine anyone other than McGoohan in the John Drake role. As with I Spy's Kelly Robinson & Alexander Scott, Danger Man's Drake traveled the world, engaging in high intrigue across other lands and within other cultures.

And it is the traveling element that let's us draw our first distinction between I Spy and Danger Man. I Spy was shot on location! With few exceptions, Danger Man was shot in the studio, with stock footage of other countries cleverly blended in. But I Spy was truly shot on location. They actually took the crew to Italy, to Greece, to Spain and to Asia. When you're watching I Spy you are getting a glimpse of what it looked like around the world in the 60s. In my view this is one of the best reasons to go through the series. It is 'boots on the ground' realism as we follow Robinson and Scott on their world-wide adventures.

I Spy does not hold up as well as Danger Man. The latter had very tight scripts, thanks in large part to the constant involvement of the show's creator and writing contributor Ralph Smart, as well as strong input from McGoohan. This may be hard to believe but I don't think I've ever seen a bad Danger Man. I Spy on the other hand sprouted a few stinker episodes. There is one reason for this; weak writing. Robert Culp actually discusses the show's writing in the commentary track he recorded for several episodes. The concept of I Spy was great, with Culp and Cosby adeptly pulling off the playful banter that was the substrate of the show. But the thing was, the writers often didn't get it. They often wrote *under* the show (scripts were often loose and full of plot holes).

However, the chemistry of Culp and Cosby, the locations shooting with its voyeuristic look at the 60s is without compare. I don't think I'd buy the whole series, but there are some great episodes. Conversely, I do own the entire Danger Man series. If you check it out don't overlook the earlier ½ hr series. It is surprisingly well done. They somehow managed to contain an integral story arc in that 28 or so minutes. The intro of this first series also has a very Bond-like McGoohan introducing himself as "Drake .... John Drake". This, two years before Sean Connery introduced himself as Bond ... James Bond in Dr. No. It should be noted too that McGoohan was offered the James Bond role but turned it down.

The last contrasting feature I can think to bring up is the use of firearms. Patrick McGoohan, who was a very moral man and had a heavy influence on the John Drake character, rarely used a gun. He wanted a family show, with minimal violence and sex. Drake was all about brains over brawn, and thanks to great writing the gun element is not missed. Scott and Robinson are more conventional spys and are rarely caught not packing. The pair are somewhat discreet with their use of unnecessary gun play however, so I would say this difference in the shows is less about any I Spy violence and more about the extra work required by the Danger Man writing staff to get Drake out of a jam without the quick and easy plot device afforded by a gun.

Music-wise I Spy and Danger Man are on similar footing, with memorable scores for both series. The 1960-62 ½ hr Danger Man has a punchy, jazzy theme, with an even punchier theme accompanying the 1964-66 1 hr version (sold in the USA as Secret Agent, with the unforgettable Johnny Rivers theme). I absolutely love the I Spy theme as well, which rests nicely on the opening visuals where Kelly Robinson, in the blink of an eye transforms from a racket swinging tennis bum to an armed spy, taking the shot, and disappearing through the doorway formed by the upper case "I" in the title. So, a total of four themes... all of them winners (as is true of so many 60s TV shows).

ps - Given the claim made about Danger Man being one of the first spy dramas with a super cool agent, it should be noted that a black & white production of Ian Fleming's 'Casino Royale' was aired in the 1950s on live TV in America. You can find this short but excellent production included in the extras on the DVD for the 1967 parody version of (ASIN:B00005JL0I) Casino Royale starring Peter Sellers. In another interesting parallel between John Drake and James Bond, the Bond in this 50's production is an American working for the CIA. Likewise the early Danger Man series had John Drake also portrayed as an American, albeit working for NATO. All subsequent Drake/Bond characters were of course British.
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Secret Agent: The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove (1965)
Season 1, Episode 18
7/10
Is David Stone John Drake?
9 January 2016
As I post this entry, every one of the other four preexisting reviews make reference to this episode being reminiscent of Patrick McGoohan's subsequent series 'The Prisoner'. In this Wizard of Oz style episode characters from real life (ambulance crew et al) are juxtaposed into a dreamlike fantasy that leaves Drake wondering which end is up. Somehow he copes.

But it's true. This is the most Prisoner like episode of the entire run of the Danger Man series. Besides the similarities pointed out by the others, what jumped out at me, other than the whimsical funhouse-gone-wrong motif, is the scene about halfway through with Drake banging his fist on the desk of his supervisor Mr. Lovegrove in frustration at the way he's being treated. Prisoner fans of course know this scene is replicated in the opening credits of The Prisoner. And then there's later in the episode when Drake opens his apartment door to the insurance peddler. The address on the door is "6".

So did the theme of this episode become something of a template for The Prisoner? Is fist-pounding Drake launched from here into the Village as Number 6? In later interviews McGoohan insisted that Number 6 is NOT Drake. That insertion is mitigated though upon learning that due to the legal ramifications of the show's creator Ralph Smart owning the name "John Drake", Patrick may not have been in a position, either at the time The Prisoner ran, or perhaps anytime thereafter, to confirm the connection between the two characters.

None the less, we the audience *know* the answer, don't we? Drake IS Number 6! So, just as McGoohan was inspired to shoot The Prisoner at Portmeirion Village in Wales after discovering the location in the very first Danger Man shoot 'View from the Villa'… did he in a similar fashion simply take inspiration from series' episodes such as 'The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove' when creating The Prisoner? There's really no other explanation. After all, McGoohan didn't write the Lovegrove episode.

Or did he? The writing credit goes to a 'David Stone'. But who the hell is David Stone? If you check IMDb, Stone has almost zero writing credits, EXCEPT seven 1 hour Danger Man Episodes. Who is this guy that wrote only for Danger Man? My take is that David Stone may well be Patrick McGoohan. I posed this question in the IMDb forums, and someone pointed out that McGoohan did in fact write, and that when he did he would often use a pen name. So is Patrick McGoohan to David Stone possibly an analog of Samuel Clemens' Mark Twain?

Perhaps instead of asking; 'Is Number 6 Drake?' ... we should instead be asking; 'Is David Stone Patrick McGoohan?' If so, we would indeed have a direct connection between the two series.
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Inspector Morse: Masonic Mysteries (1990)
Season 4, Episode 4
5/10
Morse Meets his Moriarty
29 November 2015
It's pointless to write a review for the Inspector Morse series. Any review that, for example, chastises the Masonic Mysteries episode is heavily voted down. Apparently most folks who visit the reviews have already drunk the IM koolaid and don't take kindly to people pointing out the flaws in the episode (for me it was at the end when Lewis hears a gunshot but simply continues knocking on the front door to gain entrance. That's what I call real backup). I have not partaken of the IM Koolaid but I'm running through -and mostly enjoying- the entire series, after first discovering Inspector Lewis last year. Boy oh boy, Lewis sure put the razor in his voice after getting elected Inspector. By the way, parenthetically, is there going to be an Inspector *Hathaway* series? Sure hope so! That character cracks me up.

Anyway, regarding this episode, MM, I loved that they placed great bad guy Ian McDiarmid in the role of the antagonist. When this episode was shot Ian had turned in his two performances in the second and third Star Wars films (chronologically). He of course was buried under so much makeup in the mid-trilogy as to be unrecognizable. But I wonder if he was cast here based upon his SW performance. I'll bet a lot of folks didn't know he was in the first SW installment because even the voice under the made up face was different than here. However, Ian uses the exact same evil voice from MM later on in the third trilogy.

The other thing that struck me was that this episode was it was an analog for Sherlock Holmes' Professor Moriarty. The brilliant detectives each get out-clevered by one who is more brilliant (which always raises the question of whether evil is more powerful than good). So for me MM was quite the MMM as well.

By the way, speaking of evil, and speaking of Star Wars, what does George Lucas have to say about whether evil is more powerful than good?? Hard to say because George's commentary track, laid down for all six films, records him first noting that the dark side is NOT more powerful, but later a subsequent film has him stating it is. Alas, we are left to draw our own conclusions about the power of evil.

Although Morse actually does give us a clue... in this episode he suggests that evil may not even exist, but that evil acts do occur... Somewhat comforting, eh? Cheers
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Secret Agent: The Paper Chase (1966)
Season 2, Episode 22
8/10
The Mind of McGoohan
5 April 2015
Every review of this episode posted prior to this one refers to the go-cart sequence at the end of the episode. If you haven't seen this episode you really should skip all the reviews for now (including this one), and watch it.

I actually referred to the go-cart scene in another review whilst pointing out some "Prisoner" moments in various Danger Man / Secret Agent shows. The go-cart piece is indeed very Prisoneresque. A common critique of the go-cart sequence is that it's over the top. Yes, it is. Why is that? I believe that quite often when Danger Man does go over the top -with 'The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove' being the quintessential example- we are seeing Patrick McGoohan's footprint... or should I say 'mindprint'.

Although Patrick did not write this episode he did direct it. And I suspect that either he added the go-cart scene on the fly, or, perhaps more likely, he enhanced the basic plot device of Drake escaping on a go-cart whilst directing the episode.

When McGoohan gets to cut loose you get... whimsy. The Prisoner is full of whimsy. Whimsy... and ... the rebellion of a brilliant mind that sees through the illusory and farcical motif of modern society. Patrick pulls back the curtain, revealing the irrational nature of mankind.

If Patrick had written this entire episode we may have seen even more whimsy. In fact, in my review of 'The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegroove' I floated the notion that McGoohan did in fact write that episode, despite the writing credit being attributed to one 'David Stone'. I suspect that folks looking for the smoking gun of a direct tie in between Danger Man and The Prisoner may find it in that installment.

Anyway, this episode under review is a great DM in all regards. Of particular interest to me was the card game. There have of course been several memorable card games staged in movies and TV. Two favorites coming to mind are 'A Big Hand For A Little Lady' with Henry Fonda, and "All Good Things', the last Star Trek TNG episode. And this card game, with Drake steering the thin skinned and feeble minded antagonist Eddie Gelb into the proverbial corner.. while Eddie's girlfriend plinks soundtrack on the piano, raising tension at the critical juncture of the game, while at the same time the camera scans around the perimeter à la Brian De Palma style... is another one. It's all quite delicious isn't it?

By the way, did you notice the second Beatles album on display in the cafe's jukebox at the beginning of the show? Cheers
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7/10
Return of the Cigarette Case
4 April 2015
Before getting to the subject portended by the title of this review... for some reason while listening to the Danger Man opening theme music the thought of the Star Wars jazz band (from the bar scene) playing the Danger Man theme crossed my mind. Is that hilarious or what? Someone should do an animation of that band playing a jazzed up remix of the Danger Man theme! Would be fun, eh?

Anyway, if you've read most any other of my reviews for either the 1/2 hour or 1 hour series you know I've been documenting the various spy gadgets employed by our hero and master spy, John Drake. In this episode we get our second look at a nifty gadget that has been seen only once so far; the cigarette case that doubles as a two-way radio. This gizmo was first spotted in 'Loyalty Always Pays'.

However, in this installment of the series, the cigarette case takes on a new persona; it now acts as a receiver for the standard issue round bugging device that John is always planting here and there, plus it records the conversation! Yeah, they sort of transplanted the guts of the now ubiquitous electric-razor-as-tape-recorder into the cigarette case.

Other gadgetry seen in this episode is a cigar with a hidden cavity -which Drake places a dinky film strip in- and a compliment of fireworks and smoke bombs that the spy man triggers in order to keep six evil men from gunning him down. LOL! The ending of this particular show is pretty good. It's interesting that we see the same deluxe strongroom door used here as was used in ... you guessed it ... 'Loyalty Always Pays'.

A nice twist in this show is that Drake can't pick the strongroom door lock, and has to form a Plan B. This nuance added to the plausibility factor.

Be seeing you...
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Secret Agent: I Can Only Offer You Sherry (1966)
Season 2, Episode 17
6/10
Drake Takes A Beating For The Cause
3 April 2015
Not the strongest episode of the season. But worth viewing, of course.

John Drake gets in two fights in this installment, the first one leaving him with facial cuts that are seen throughout the episode. The second fight, which takes place late in the show, is probably the weakest fight scene I've witnessed in the series. And with a car full of police waiting just outside, it was unnecessary.

Anyway, we've got a few spy gadgets to cover. In keeping with the recent episode 'Dangerous Secret', spy gadgets are getting smaller and more efficient at doing double duty. Drake has a new lighter (!), and although this one does not take photographs, it acts as both a radio transmitter via a mic on the side of the lighter -which allows Drake to relay a conversation with the bad guys to the police- and it later sprouts an ear piece allowing John to employ the tiny gadget as a two-way radio to converse with the authorities. Who'd have thunk? You have to remind yourself that this was the mid-sixties, when even portable "transistor" radios stood out.

Drake plants what by this time we recognize as a standard issue tracking device (small round gizmo with a suction cup on the back and a metallic grill on the front... usually), but the receiver that picks up tracking signals from the gizmo is miniaturized to an even greater degree compared to previous models.

Cheers
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Secret Agent: Dangerous Secret (1966)
Season 2, Episode 16
8/10
You Should Get Yourself Some Better Help!
2 April 2015
The title of this review refers to master spy John Drake's parting shot to the head of the opposition after defeating her FIVE henchman. Ha ha ha. This is the only episode directed by Stuart Burge and it's too bad because he turned in an installment laced with subtle humor. The levity, along with clean execution of well written dialog and sharp witty cuts to the next scene make this a memorable show.

If you're a fan of The Prisoner and not intimately familiar with Danger Man / Secret Agent, you might be interested in knowing that one of Number 6's catch phrases, 'Be seeing you', is uttered by John Drake several times in various episodes of the both the 1960-62 and the 1964-66 Danger Man series.

I think he gets that line off best in this particular episode. He crashes through a ceiling into a room full of bad guys, knocks one out, swipes a tape recorder full of compromising information, and as he hoists himself back through the hole in the ceiling let's go a full on 'Be seeing you'. It's hilarious.

I read that McGoohan once noted to someone that the expression, and the sign he would make forming his thumb and forefinger into a loop over his eye, was an early Christian symbol (the sign of the fish).

Now let's get down to business of what these reviews are all about and see what we have in the spy gadget department. Oh, it's a spyware bonanza this time out. First we have Drake planting an eavesdropping device remotely. In the past we have seen this done with a "fishing pole" that doubles as a bug launcher. We've also seen an undisguised rocket launcher of sorts made out of aluminum. Both of those devices used a C02 cartridge as the propellant.

But Spy Gadget Headquarters is getting more sophisticated as time goes by. Here Drake fetches a sleek dart shaped bug from a fountain pen. Then he slides open a hidden compartment on his umbrella (wow!), and slides the dart in. He unscrews the tip of the umbrella, takes aim, and fires the projectile home. An antenna eeks out of the anterior of the dart just after it finds home and transmission commences.

But wait. There's more! Drake then retrieves a portable spy typewriter. Now we have seen his typewriter before in various guises. But this version does triple duty. It receives the transmission from the dart bug, it acts as a two-way radio for John to speak to a fellow agent, and later acts as a triangulation device to home in on a tracking device planted on a car. Wow!

So that's one, two, three, four, five, six spy devices, counting the bug on the car. It's almost too much! No wonder Drake always wins. The opposition could only muster up one pathetic, easily discovered lamp bug. Drake to opposition: "GET A CLUE!".
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Secret Agent: Someone Is Liable to Get Hurt (1966)
Season 2, Episode 15
8/10
John Drake: 36 ... The Enemy: 0 *
2 April 2015
Our hero John Drake meets what I would term his third most formidable opponent in this installment. The other two enemies that nearly bested Drake were Lord Ammanford (played by Bernard Lee in 'Whatever Happened to George Foster?') and Rachid Noureddine (played by Derren Nesbitt in 'Sting in the Tail').

Not going to spoil the episode by giving away the punch line, or even the plot outline, but early on in the episode the antagonist kills an M9 agent and Drake is sent in to pick up the pieces. This gives the bad guy one step up on Drake, and this will continue with the antagonist outmaneuvering Drake at every turn... until the end anyway.

The acting here is marvelous and the production is tight and... hmm ... thoughtful. For example, when the M9 agent is killed, he is shot through the lens of the headlamp he is wearing. The subsequent closeup reveals a blackish spot around the hole in the glass where the bullet entered. Nice touch. And near the end of the show Drake has a bad limp from an injury and is dragging his foot. At one point he bursts away from the frame (as best he can), yet as he starts down the hallway off camera you can still hear the foot dragging. He stayed in character, and they mic'd it properly!

Oh, I was mentioning the acting. Well, the bad guys turn in splendid performances. The main antagonist (Volos) is sort of a truly evil, yet gentlemanly, Colonel Klink (without the monocle). Keep your eye on his #1 henchman (Holst). The guy is straight-faced throughout the episode, casting an unrelenting evil eye toward Drake even when he is in the background. I have this guy sized up as quite intimidating until Drake fools him into thinking he's escaped, and the supposed tough guy falls apart, fear breaking out all over his face in anticipation of getting crucified for losing his Drake. Quite delicious, and this triggers a very satisfying end to the show as Drake delivers comeuppance upon Volos.

Finally, you will see inside John Drake's bedroom for the first time (keep calm ladies), where we are introduced to his high-tech headboard. He receives his mission via videocast, while a female voice states his mission.. and speaking of "mission", this sequence is straight out of Mission Impossible. What a rip off! But wait. Mission Impossible did not come on the air until 1968... so who's stealing from whom?

Three new spy gadgets are introduced in this episode. And as usual, rather than due to the latest technological breakthroughs, the gadgets appear as necessary plot devices to the story. John is sporting a handy knock out gas dispenser on his forearm. He also comes up with a handy tracking device disguised as a burr which easily sticks to his victims clothing. Mated to this bug is a new tracking receiver disguised as a small clock. This trio of gadgets brings the count for both the 1/2 hour and 1 hour series up to of 35!

* I'm came up with the 36 episode count using IMDBs count combining the 1960-61 series and the 194-66 series to date.
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Secret Agent: Say It with Flowers (1965)
Season 2, Episode 13
8/10
Just too good!
1 April 2015
This is a very good Secret Agent installment, with a supberb ending. The last five minutes are very "Prisoner" like, with whimsy substituting for standard issue logic. John Drake invents a unique way of turning the tables on the enemy. Peter Yates (Bullitt) successfully directs this episode.

This is one of those episodes where you have to pay attention to keep from getting confused (one of my unfortunate shortcomings), but the show is easy to navigate if you do.

In the spy gadget department, Drake has his trusty electric shaver / tape recorder at his side.

New to the series is a cigarette lighter with a cavity large enough to hold a tape from the shaver. This device was clearly conceived to give Drake a means to surreptitiously pass messages to another agent.

Another new spy gizmo is a flashlight that converts into an overhead slide projector. It's rather ingenious because you just fit an adapter on the lens, slide in a slide, turn on and aim the flashlight at a wall, and abracadabra; instant slide show. I can't help to wonder if such a nifty device made it to the consumer market.
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Secret Agent: The Man on the Beach (1965)
Season 2, Episode 12
8/10
"What's so particular about me?", he said. "You're beautiful", she said.
31 March 2015
Tonight's episode takes place at a Club Med style tropical resort. An aerial shot at the commencement of the episode frames a swimming pool shaped like a foot.

This pool would later be seen in the episode entitled 'The Man With The Foot'. Really? No, not really. But water does play an important role in this installment of Secret Agent... it's a convenient place to put dead bodies.

Peter Yates (director of Steve McQueen in 'Bullitt') returns to direct his third installment of the series. His trademark method of slowly building tension can be felt from beginning to end.

There are several Secret Agent motifs that are well played in this issue; John Drake plays one of his best undercover characters here; a lowlife. He also has an amazing ability to launch people through the air when disposing of them in a fight, and we get a couple of those... always fun to watch.

And there is some great chemistry between Drake and the leading femme fatale; Cleo (as in Cleopatra). The hauntingly beautiful Barbara Steele plays Cleo wonderfully; she doesn't walk... she slinks to her destination. She doesn't exactly dance.. she jiggles around a bit... slowly. She's forward when a woman would normally be coy. She's coy when affirmation is requested. And McGoohan syncs up to her mood very well. There is a covert power struggle between the two. You'll see who wins. And, you'll find out who utters the lines that titles this review.

By the way, another reviewer was commenting that this episode is hard to follow. It took me a couple of viewings to catch on myself. It is a very cohesive production but you have to pay attention to all dialog. I can also give you a tip that would have helped me, if you'll trust me not to give away too much...

You find out almost immediately that this episode is about identifying a double agent. That is Drake's assignment. There are not that many characters playing agents in the locale John is visiting, so just keep your eye on them. One character is seen both with and without spectacles. He looks very different without out glasses, so much so that I thought it was two different characters. That's what threw me off. Hope that helps you enjoy what is a pretty darn good installment of this awesome series.

Be seeing you...
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Secret Agent: To Our Best Friend (1965)
Season 2, Episode 11
7/10
May We See Your Spy Gadgets, Please
31 March 2015
I am befuddled here because the opposition has spy gadgets in this episode, and if you've been following my reviews cataloging the various spyware employed by Secret Agent John Drake, I've only been recording his gadgets. Hmm.. what to do?

Well let's start by covering Drake's spy gear. He shows up in this episode with his first bug sweeper; a spy device that detects the opposition's spy devices... namely, eavesdropping equipment. It's a handy little gadget that looks like a cigarette case. I would guess that its the same prop used in 'Loyalty Always Pays', which in the cigarette case was a radio receiver with an earpiece on a pull out tether. They appear to have simply swapped the earpiece tip for a bug sensor.

Drake also gets to deploy one of his exploding cigars! In past episodes we saw one other exploding cigar (Loyalty Always Pays), and an exploding pipe (English Lady Takes Lodgers). But in fact those two prior devices were more smoke bombs, and didn't really "explode". However the cigar in this episode seems to actually blow up and makes a flash of light and some noise. No real harm done though, and It's enough to allow our hero to once again daze and confuse the enemy long enough to disarm them. ;>

OK. I've decided. We're not going to catalog enemy spyware, BUT, it is worth a mention, especially in this episode. A female member of the opposition has a covert tape recorder like John's. But rather than disguise it as an electric razor (women didn't need to shave in the 60's), the gadget nerds fit the recorder into a makeup compact. Cute! The bad guys also have a big radio set for phoning home all the intelligence they've gathered. Nothing special there.

Finally... once again.. our dear spy master shows that although he avoids bedding the women on the show... he has a soft spot for them.. even if they are one of the 'bad guys'. You'll see when you watch.

Cheers
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7/10
Philip Broadley Plays With Dolls
31 March 2015
Without giving anything away, there is a doll in this episode. It's used as a plot device.

Of what significance is that? None really, except perhaps for Danger Man / Secret Agent trivia buffs. You see, there was also a doll employed as a plot device in 'Sting in the Tail'. That's the episode where John Drake uses an assassin's girlfriend to lure the killer to Paris in order to arrest him. The connection is that both episodes were written by Philip Broadley.

Interestingly, Philip wrote another episode, 'You're Not in Any Trouble Are you?', which starred the same gal as in this episode (Susan Hampshire). And guess what? There was a doll in that episode as well.

In each case it is a different doll. What does it all mean? Not much probably, except that the writer found that dolls and femme fatales go well together. :>

In any case this is a pretty good episode. A fine example of John Drake doing what he does so well.. turning the tables on his opponents. Which brings about a very satisfying ending to this installment.

By the way, if you like romance there is a delicious dance played out between Drake and Susan Hampshire's character; Lesley Arden, when John and Lesley dine at her apartment. It's the kind of dream date that we all dream about. At least up to the point where Lesley tries to kill Drake. But that is giving something away and I promised not to. But hey... it's Secret Agent! ;>
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Secret Agent: Loyalty Always Pays (1965)
Season 2, Episode 6
7/10
Loyalty Always Pays - And Silly Spy Gadgets Always Recue
30 March 2015
This episode of Secret Agent introduces three new -in this case life saving- spy gadgets. And the now ubiquitous 'cigarette lighter as camera' makes another appearance.

Drakes cuts loose with an exploding cigar (or smoke bomb, really) early on, which gets him out of a torture session. The only other time he's used that trick was recently in "The English Lady Takes Lodgers', when the device took the form of an exploding pipe.

Later on a concealed two-way radio takes the form of a cigarette case. That's new.

We again see a C02 powered aluminum rocket tube designed for shooting projectiles (first seen in 'A Very Dangerous Game'). The device takes on a slightly different form factor in this outing, and instead of propelling a listening device to its target, it has a compartment that Drake fills with the expended roll of film from his lighter camera. This trick allows the master spy to get the film out of a building he's trapped in (and save his life).

What I found eye catching was that John actually pulled the miniature film cartridge from his lighter camera, right on screen. I always wondered how that gadget stored the pictures it takes. One rung up the credibility ladder for that one.
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Secret Agent: English Lady Takes Lodgers (1965)
Season 2, Episode 5
7/10
Stupid Is as Stupid Does
30 March 2015
In this adequate installment of Secret Agent you have a small band of seemingly civilized spies operating merrily under the non-watchful eye of Lisbon security chief Pilkington, who is operated by three-time guest star Robert Urquhart.

Pilkington is oblivious to the espionage taking place under his nose, being more concerned with the status of his position among the local British community. Urquhart plays the doofus quite well, and he'll be back in 'The Man With The Foot' to demonstrate this quality once more.

The episode has a now familiar ending with Drake paired up with a beautiful woman. Our hero never "gets" the girl, but he is often found "with" the girl come end of story. You go John.

The only spy gadget I spotted in this episode is barely worth cataloging.. but ... Drake did use a version of the exploding cigar, this time in the form of a pipe, to wriggle out of a tough spot (that he willingly got himself in to). This brings the unofficial spy gadget count for both series up to 22!
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Secret Agent: A Very Dangerous Game (1965)
Season 2, Episode 3
6/10
Spy Gadget Cornicopia
29 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
(Although the 'spoiler alert' box is checked, I will just be mentioning some plot elements. Not giving away any punch lines.)

I would like to send kudos to reviewer 'rsoonsa' who pretty much nails this episode, and does so eloquently. It is surprising that as I post my review the post is getting five down-votes out of six. Not sure what people found to quarrel with? This episode IS a bit lacking. The makeup jobs attempting to turn Caucasians into Asians is what turned me off the most.

What is even more surprising is that this episode was written by series creator and now executive producer Ralph Smart, and directed by DM veteran Don Chaffey. We've learned to expect more from this duo. Even more interesting is that the show was co-written... with David Stone sharing the credit. Stone turned in about seven DM scripts.

Why is that interesting? If you don't mind me indulging in some personal conspiracy theory, is I believe David Stone may be Patrick McGoohan. You can read my wacky postulation on that topic in my review of 'The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove'.

In the meantime, it's a regular spy gadget love-fest in this episode, starting with a first time visit to spy gadget headquarters, which appears to be some basement in some government intelligence building in London. We meet the obligatory, nerdy gadget creator type person, and we get to see how John Drake interacts with the 'little people' in his department.

The episode then unfolds the highest density of gadgets seen in one show to date. I counted six spy devices, Five of them never before seen. We first witness the now familiar wireless bug with a suction cup. In this show it is hidden in Drake's shoe.

Then we get a variation on the C02 cartridge based 'fishing pole' seen in 'Have a Glass of Wine'. It fires a cylindrical shaped listening device that embeds itself in some soft material such as wood. In this show the solution is miniaturized into a smoking pipe stem, and delivered with a strong exhale. Less range, but the gadget did its work just fine here. The receiver mated to the bug here is a new design. It has a spinning pickup extension reminiscent of a radar dish (but not really).

Drake then breaks from the tired old cliché of removing a section of a window with a glass cutter in order to access the handle (soooo 50's), instead opting for a tube of white 'glass dissolving paste'. Let's hope an agent never gets that stuff confused with his toothpaste!

And speaking of C02 cartridges, in this scene Drake breaks out a gadget with a longish barrel that uses C02 to fire a dart with a metal housing. He shoots three of these darts at the window he is about to open with the aid of the toothpaste tube. Once he scales the building and approaches the window He links the darts together with a wire harness, which somehow defeats the alarm system.

Let me just say one thing about this trick to bypass the alarm. If you're the type that tries to see the logic and science behind these spy devices, don't bake your noodle over this one. I used to work in the burglar alarm business and I promise you, this dart thing is 100% bogus. There is no way that silliness with that whole apparatus he attached to the window would work. Funny, it would have been very simple to do it right with an alligator clip lead.

Finally, we get a real treat... a full-on spy type apparatus... a concealed document with disappearing ink! Crack open the thin, innocent looking container, read the note, and a few seconds later, no note. How have we gotten by this long without something this radically cool?

Final comment; this episode marks one of the few times Drake actually uses the phrase "M9". He normally never admits it directly, but you will hear him say it in this show.

This brings the total count of spy gadgets seen up to this point in the 1/2 and 1 hour series to 20 (using IMDb show sequence).

Cheers
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Secret Agent: Sting in the Tail (1965)
Season 2, Episode 4
Enter the Director of Bullitt! - Peter Yates Takes This One Over the Top
29 March 2015
One of the very best Danger Man / Secret Agent shows. It all came together here; the story, the casting, the acting, and yes, the direction. This is Peter Yates' directorial debut for Danger Man. He will go on to direct a total of seven episodes. If you don't know, Peter directed Steve McQueen in 'Bullitt', a movie renowned for one of the best car chases ever filmed. Yates is a master at building tension, and this gift contributes nicely to this fine installment of Secret Agent. You witness tension building in a slow, delicious way in both a dinner scene where Drake (pretending to be artist Steven Miller) prepares to get held down and beaten up, and later in a fight scene at the end of the episode.

Drake is going up against what I deem is one of his most formidable opponents; an assassin named Rachid Noureddine, played brilliantly by three-time guest star Darren Nesbitt. The only foe that comes close to Rachid appears in 'Whatever Happened to George Foster' with Bernard Lee playing the rich, corrupt, and immensely powerful Lord Ammanford.

Darren, as assassin Rachid, is no mindless killer in this installment. He is almost as smart as Drake, almost as cool as Drake, and has a frequent, bone-chilling smile. Drake, as artist Steven, taunts Rachid by willfully avoiding eye contact whenever they converse. Rachid counters by calling Steven by name so often it turns into an insult. It goes right down to the wire with these two.

Added to this delightful recipe is the spicy character actor, Ronald Radd, making his second DM appearance, this time as the playful but fiercely loyal landlord Alexandros. Ronald gets totally into character and is great fun to watch.

Others have already commented quite adequately on the femme fatale Marie Valedon, played by the lovely Jeanne Roland. The show pivots around this woman.

In the spy gadget department, Drake is newly equipped with a wrist watch that can inject a fast acting paralyzing agent when a needle (stinger) is summoned from its core. It's this device that gives Drake the edge against 'team Noureddine' when push comes to shove.

Cheers
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Secret Agent: The Black Book (1965)
Season 2, Episode 2
The Time Has Come, The Walrus Said...
29 March 2015
... 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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8/10
Spy Gadget Alert! New Spy Gadget debuts
28 March 2015
The opening credits show an aerial flyover of the Roman Coliseum. You get a nice look down inside the oval building. I'm told that Patrick McGoohan took the footage from his own private plane he kept parked at the Rome airport.

Really?? No, not really.

But here's something you can believe. This is the first time the ubiquitous electric razor that doubles as a tape recorder is seen! It seems like it shows up in every other show, and is equaled in appearances only by the lighter that takes pictures. In fact, by the time I get through this viewing of the entire series, wherein for fun I'm cataloging all these spy gadgets (keeps me off the streets), I'll know which gadget wins for most appearances, and will report such in a review of the final episode.

But anyway, this is the first instance of razor-as-recorder. Yes, we've seen the razor once before in 'Colony 3', but in that episode it turns into a radio transmitter that allows Drake to phone home for evacuation from the hellish spy colony.

Cheers!
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Secret Agent: Parallel Lines Sometimes Meet (1965)
Season 1, Episode 22
7/10
The Enemy of Your Enemy... is the Basis For This Episode
28 March 2015
Surprisingly, as I post this review in March of 2015 there are no existing reviews for this episode. It's a decent Danger Man entrée though. As so often happens with this 1960's series, the subject matter is topical even today.

In this installment there is a group of Africans who feel they need to get their hands on 'the bomb'. Their logic is that since so many other countries have it, Africa will end up getting blackmailed into surrendering their country's resources under threat (hmmm). As you will see, the splinter group has a unique way of pursuing their desire to obtain the coveted weapon.

In this installment John Drake comes up against an agent for the 'opposition', as he so often terms the folks on the other side of the fence. But in this instance the two find they have a common enemy and work together effectively to put that enemy right out of business.

Meanwhile in the spy gadget department Drake finds a use for his cigarette lighter that doubles as a camera. It's appearance is brief and is not subject to the closeups this device normally gets.

Guest star wise, there are several reliable actors returning from past Danger Man shows. See how many you can spot.

Here are a few other examples of how Danger Man themes fit right in to today's world:

'The Galloping Major' Drake prevents a military coup from thwarting the democratic process in a vote for president.

'Affair of state' Drake uncovers a plot to loot the treasury of its gold supply by substituting fake gold bars for the real ones.

'The Deputy Coyannis Story' Drake uncovers a plot whereby IMF funds intended to modernize agriculture are instead used to line the pockets of corrupt governmental officials. (hello!?)

'Loyalty always pays' A foreign government makes secret arms deal with Chinese agents

'What ever happened to george foster?' A so-called cultural affairs foundation is in fact channeling money to political agitators trying to overthrow the current regime in favor of one with a more friendly attitude toward foreign companies draining natural resources from the target country.
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