After two series in its revamped form, Danger Man (UK)/Secret Agent (US) was such a big hit on both sides of the Atlantic that Lew Grade, boss of ATV, increased the series’ budget to ebable series 4 to be filmed in colour. This would prove to be a somewhat ironic decision.
The first thing to note was how utterly strange and wrong Danger Man in colour felt, especially the opening negative scene, and the second was that how bad the colour balance was for the open and the credits, with far too much orange saturation. Furthermore, the theme music had been re-recorded for the opening credits so as to take all the energy out of it (although the closing credits were as before). The omens were not good.
Nor, sadly, was the episode. We are suposedly in Tokyo, further from England than John Drake, or radion reporter ‘Basil Edwards’ has been before, wvhich in practice meant some location stock shots, mostly of Japanese neon and drunken Japanese men at night, to supplement studio sets that were far too cardboard to trigger enough suspension of disbelief.
The story was basic and unexceptional. A new murder organisation, reviving an old Japanese sect, bent on fascist rule of the world, plans to assassinate a UN Mediator in New York. Ako Nakamura, M9’s local top agent, a Japanese woman in traditional dress, sends a message of warning via a radio transmitter concealed in a flower before being gassed to death from another flower. Enter Drake.
This being the Far East, we expect to see Burt Kwouk and the programme does not disappoint us for here he is, Embassy driver, sent to fetch ‘Mr Edwards’ to a gramaphone shop to meet cultural attache Potter (Christopher Benjamin), yes, he and they of ‘The Girl Who Was Death’. Potter’s a clown: there, I’ve said it.
This being the Far East, we expect to see Burt Kwouk and the programme does not disappoint us for here he is, Embassy driver, sent to fetch ‘Mr Edwards’ to a gramaphone shop to meet cultural attache Potter (Christopher Benjamin), yes, he and they of ‘The Girl Who Was Death’. Potter’s a clown: there, I’ve said it. Drake works on his own, totaly in the dark, starting with Rosemary Wiley (Amanda Barrie), an English student who has taken over Ako’s apartment and who blithley leads him to Philip Sanders (Ronald Howard), an Englishman who is head of this new Assassination business.
Why she does this and why he lets her is a bit of a mystery, only explicable by noting that this is Amanda Barrie we’re talking about, playing Rosemary the same way I’ve only ever seen her play any role, as a ditzy brunette with an odd hairdo. She even grumps at one point that being a traitor isn’t as much fun as she thought it would be.
The thing is that we may be supposed to be in Japan but it’s very noticeable that, with the exception of one brief non-speaking cameo, this resurrected sect of Japanese cultists, steeped in ancient Japanese traditions and devoted to Koroshi, the ‘poetry of death’, are exclusively English. Talk about cultural imperialism.
Needless to say, the dumb brunette Rosemary, whose only saving grace is dancer’s legs, leads Drake to the sect and he brings them down. She gets away unscathed, though the episode makes a bit of a hash of that: the close sees Drake sat morose in the airport awaiting his flight home whilst Kwouk tries to distract him with suggestions of things he could get, but Drake is thinking of what can’t be got – a brave and intelligent woman. Since we’ve been dealing with Amanda Barrie up until a minute of screentime ago, I initially took this as a reference to her having been killed, which we hadn’t seen. But the description of brave and intelligent should have clued me in sooiner to it being Ako Nakamura Drake was mourning.
A final moment of confusion to further downgrade an unsatisfactory episode.