Recent history hasn’t been kind to Patrick McGoohan – but it was all very different in the first half of the sixties. A string of successful film roles and the success of Danger Man made him one of the highest-paid actors on British TV – and a contender for the first Bond.
But McGoohan missed out on Bond (or possibly rejected it) and eventually left Danger Man to move onto a show he was to both produce and star in – The Prisoner. Ironically, a show about a secret agent who is imprisoned after quitting his job. The Prisoner baffled audiences before becoming a cult classic. And it also killed McGoohan’s reputation in sixties Britain – he and his family had to flee the country at the time.
The controversy and cult status of The Prisoner has probably overshadowed Danger Man – which really was a great series. And it has now been reissued as a 13-disc Danger Man Special Edition so you can find out why it was so popular both in the UK and the US.
It’s a spy series, but McGoohan’s character- John Drake – was no James Bond (although he’s always got a few gadgets to hand). Drake is a no-nonsense trouble shooter, brought in when something serious has happened or is about to happen, whether that’s in the middle east, behind the Iron Curtain, in the wilds of Scotland, on the south coast of England or on a pirate radio station off the British coast. And unlike Bond, there’s no lady on the arm either – hardly a hint of romance in the entire run, because that wouldn’t be his style.
What is John Drake’s style is the ability to get in and fit in, assume a new identity to find out the truth, sort out the problem or sort out the person causing it – all in the space of 50 minutes. And that rarely involved much killing – a punch-up was about as strong as it got, despite much brandishing of guns and encounters with several hired guns.
If that doesn’t sound too exciting, let me put your mind at rest – this is a superb show. Ok, it might not have the budget, the glamour or the locations of a Bond, but it has some superb scripts from the likes of Ralph Smart, Donald Jonson, Philip Broadley and Tony Williamson, substituting realism and suspense for the big-screen gloss. There’s also a great cast list, with a clutch of familiar faces in every episode.
The one criticism is the one cited by McGoohan for leaving – the plots start to get a little samey, especially with the budgets rarely stretching to filming outside of a studio – no matter where in the world the episodes are set. But you could throw that at virtually all the ITC shows, let alone one that extended over 47 50-minute episodes!
Overall, this is one for the collection of any Brit TV fan – especially if you love your period spy dramas. And it’s packed with extras too, including stills galleries, scripts, the final two-parter of the show (Koroshi) in colour and Andrew Pixley’s exclusive and exhaustive book of the show, covering every episode in intimate detail.
Very much recommended.
Extras on the DVD:
Danger Man book by Andrew Pixley
Koroshi – final two episodes combined and in colour
Extensive episodic image gallery (featuring colour press pack photos) accompanied by a suite of Edwin Astley’s incidental music
The Sidney Cole script archive – PDFs of almost every hour-long Danger Man episode (in fact all the episodes bar the first ‘Fish on the Hook’)
Gallery of Somportex chewing gum cards
Introduction to The Galloping Major by Earl Cameron
Introduction to A Date with Doris by Jane Merrow
Introduction to The Mirror’s New by Wanda Ventham
Koroshi Movie Trailer (audio only)
Three trailers for Secret Agent
Destination Danger titles (French)
Secret Agent titles (US)
UK Opener Rushes
Commercial Break Bumpers
Textless Material (mute)
End Title Music Suite
Book Cover Gallery
Danger Man Annuals PDF