Much as I love Danger Man, both then and now, it’s becoming apparent that it’s third series – the second in the fifty minute format – has its fair share of episodes that fall short of the overall standards and I’m afraid that ‘The Man on the Beach’ is another one of those. It all goes to support Patrick McGoohan’s position when he left the show after two episodes of series four, claiming it had run out of good stories.
This latest episode, set in the West Indies, suffered from the lack of a cohesive story with a focussed sequence of events. Given how Danger Man used to provide tightly-organised plots, this is a serious let down. Drake, as John Drake, is introduced enjoying himself with sand, scenery, drinks and indolence, which is causing friction with his local superiors, Simon Howes, an irascible station head who is demanding he return to London, and his number two, Wykes (the very familiar Glyn Houston). Drake claims to be investigating CIT, whatever that is, whilst giving off the impression that he’s not putting in much effort, in order to extend hs holiday.
This very much gets up Wykes’ nose, but then Wykes is an officious little toerag to begin with. Drake’s real assignment, given him directly by Sir Alan Grose (David Hutcheson), to whom he reports on the beach, is to identify a double agent and it comes as no surprise that it should be Wykes.
But the story meanders. Drake has no discernible plan of investigation. He spends the first half of the story being stalked by the beautiful, slinky Cleo (the beautiful, slinky Barbara Steele), though her serious flirtatiousness runs up against McGoohan/Drake’s abrasion, although after a (studio) beach scene in which she’s wearing a backless swimsuit paired with thigh-revealing cycle shorts in which she reveals she’s married to one of the villains, she drops out of the story exactly as if she’s gone through a trapdoor.
But she’s set Drake up to appear, to Howes and Wykes, to be a double agent himself. Sir Alan has impressed upon him that the most important thing is that his presence in the Caribbean must be the deepest secret, but the momet he’s accused of treachery and threatened with arrest, Drake caves, gives up Sir Alan’s name and whereabouts and is left further up the creek when Grose’s hostess, the beautiful, cool blonde Lady Kilrush (the beautiful, cool blonde Juliet Harmer) denies even knowing him.
So, one slightly extended fight wrecking Howes’ secret office later, Drake flies to Grand Cayman but is refused entrance to the Kilrush hoiusehold. Wandering the beach, he gets involved with beach girl Mary Anne (Dolores Mantez), who is living with thug Lyle, who is working with Wykes.
Now, Mary Anne has a part to play, firstly confirming Sir Alan was staying with Lady Kilrush, after the Lady has denied even knowing him, then producing the abandoned belt from his beach robe, plus his mini-recorder later, as well as showing Drake where he can find the drowned body. But she’s just a plot convenience who doesn’t fit except as this tool. And she and the scripter beg the question of how Sir Alan, this senior andresourceful figure whose presence is known only to Drake, is identified, kidnapped and killed entirely offscreen, before Drake admits to his presence.
Once the robe belt is prduced, Lady Kilrush caves and admits everything. We can infer, from her reference to her husband – not here until next week – being a jealous man, that she’s been having fun to go with the sun, but she too is little more than a cypher. When Wykes turns up to arrest the clearly disturbed and dangerous Drake, who’s bleeding from a machete to the upper right arm that didn’t stop him defeating its weilder in a pond, she is ineffectual until Howes turns up in Wykes wake.
At which point, Drake stands up, silently plays a recording he’s made with the late Sir Alan’s marvellous mini-recoreder, of Wykes plotting to kill him, sadly incriminating or what, eh? At which point he keels over in a dead faint through loss of blood and we can go to Edwin Astley and the credits.
So, no. A badly constructed story whose plot elements were like the Curate’s egg of legend: good in parts but not enough to make up an actual egg. McGoohan must have had things like this in mind when he walked off to the Village of legend.