Danger Man: s03 e17 – I can only offer you Sherry


The inconsistency of this series is a fascinating thing to behold, although not one to welcome, especially on mornings when I want to be enthralled and entertained, but instead I get something loose and baggy, that never quite gets its head together, like this latest episode. I was less than enthused about the title, which suggested, correctly, that it was going to be taken from some irrelevant linre of dialogue.

Nor was I greatly impressed by the open. A woman, not quite the standard glamorous guest star, and instantly recognisable as a youngish Wendy Craig of Butterflies fame, returns to her hotel room. She is under surveillance and is extremely nervous about it. She goes out into the street to confront her watcher but ends up getting hysterical when she wants to appear tough and in control: he remains silent and unimpressed and who wouldn’t be.

That and the next scene give the episode a tone it never escapes. Craig is Miss Jean Smith, British Embassy statistician, who is suspected of leaking classified information, but she’s really Wendy Craig, the semi-pretty, scatty woman of future sitcom fame, and that doesn’t sit well with the drama. And Drake matches it with his introduction, being briefed as to his mission by an old hag of a fortune teller who’s actually a British Attache, as welll as being Warren Mitchell in a tiny cameo.

This cutesie introduction came over as a bit of pissing around, dressing up unnecessarily, and is more evidence that the reasons for Patrick McGoohan’s resignation had a real, concrete base to them.

The story: we’re in a Muslim country where wine is freely available but, in her hotel room, Miss Smith can only offer reporter ‘John Brown’ sherry. He’s targetting her. She’s flatered by the attention but also eager to deflect it: her self-image is of a somewhat dull, repressed, not attractive woman who doesn’t receive male attention and doesn’t believe herself deserving of it. In fact, we will learn, she has been seduced by Ma’suud (Anthony Newlands), a rather wealthy married man with children, who has posed for her as a penurious underground dissident to gain her sympathy, not to mention free access to her hotel room.

This has led to a threat from the Secret Police to have Ma’suud executed, which can be postponed as long as Miss Smith provides classified information. Needless to say, Drake ferrets out this much, which is all so general and intangible that it’s unsatisfying. Miss Smith consents to being bait for drawing out the leader, in order to redeem herself (and stop herself blaming herself for her crass stupidity in falling for all this in the first place). Drake has the local Police Chief Colonel Nubar (Bernard Archard) on hand – the Colonel is an old friend who knows ‘John Brown’s passport is a fake because he knows who John Drake is and what he does – and everyone is captured. Miss Smith, who was being manhandled, says she could do with a drink, which Drake proposes to supply in his hotel room, but he can only offer her sherry, tish-boom!

Please don’t get me wrong about Mas’suud’s seduction of Miss Smith or Drake’s taking her back to his room. We know there is no sex in Danger Man, and there is not even the slightest sense of it in this episode, emphasised by the choice of Wendy Craig as guest star. She’s not the usual glamour, deliberately so, because a properly attractive woman would not end up in the psychologically vulnerable state required to be conned, but also because, despite being pretty in her way, I have never seen Miss Craig in anything in which she exuded the smallest atom of sexuality. You have to read between lines drawn very closely together to see the element here.

So, an inadequate script that hangs together like a badly-sewn suit. Next week’s boumd to be a classic thriller, because we are alternating good shows and bad, but if this is how the series operates as it nears the end of its second series in this formst, then Patrick McGoohan was clearly right to doubt the quality of a third season, even in colour.

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