Here is where the story ends. Danger Man‘s second and final episode in colour, and it’s last ever episode, is, like its predecesor, set in Japan, to make the most of the location footage ATV’s cameramen had shot. The continuity of background was a fortunate factor in enabling the two episodes to be edited together as a feature film.
There’s an uncanny moment at the start of the film as electronics expert Edward Sharp is arrested on arrival at Tokyo Airport. Sharp is an agent for a branch of British Intelligence, occupying a sensitive post, who has abruptly resigned without a reason and who has gone off to do whatever he now chooses. I didn’t expect it at all, yet there’s probably a very simple and logical explanation, namely the presence of George Markstein as Danger Man‘s new Script Editor, the man who, allegedly, came up with the initial iidea for The Prisoner. Still, I had not realised there was so immediate a link betwen the two series.
Anyway: John Drake replaces Edward Sharp to see where he was going, what he was doing and who he was selling out to. There is the first of several long, time-consuming sequences as he comprehensively – and fascinatingly – takes Sharp’s case apart to discover multiple hiding places for electronic components, to be used to construct a code-breaking machine.
Starting with a jigsaw puzzle of a two-tailed dragon, Drake is led to an island off the mainland, Shinda Shima, the ‘Murdered Island’: unpopulated after a curse killed three leading family heads without a sign. We already know from the open that the curse consists of a skin diver attacking a pearl fisherman and killing him with an underwater karate blow, so we’re not surprised to find that the island has been taken over by another cult organisation consisting mostly of Caucasians again, who are paying ‘Sharp’ to break the UN’s fiendishly complicated ‘Unicode’.
Before that, we’ve had our second long diversion in the form of Kenneth Griffith as Richards, a beachcomber type whose status is blurred. He breaks up the story by offering Drake a drink and telling him about the island in a stilted, highly mannered and above all unnecessarily slow monologue. You can feel time grinding to a halt whilst he does this.
Anyway, Drake arrives where Sharp was going, amongst another cliche tableau of Japanese cult terrorists. Amongst them is Miho, a small, dark-haired woman who is actually an infiltrator, out to kill the organisation that killed her sister in Tokyo, namely the British Agent killed in the open to the first episode, who was also played by Miho’s actress, Yoko Tani. She plans to kill Sharp but Drake catches her. Her intended execution forces his hand and they escape together by swimming to the mainland.
The next time-stretching scene is an awkward one where Drake exhorts the exiled islanders to mount an attack to take their island back despite it being populated with expert men with martial arts skills, guns and bows and arrows and these being pearl divers (at least there’s a diversity, as both male and female islanders join the attack, the women – except for Yoko Tani, in the shortest skirts the series ever showed).
Sadly, this is where the episode descends into farce, with a clumsy, overlong fight scene using half-learned kung fu moves. Still, the good guys win, the day is saved, and the series, and all of Danger Man finishes on an elegiac scene of boats laden with people and belongings setting out to return to their home. It’s by far the best moment of the episode and a high note on which to finish.
After this came The Prisoner, which you can find elsewhere on this blog, if you search. Despite the quite disappointing falling-off of quality as it neared its end, I shall miss Danger Man, as I always do when I reach the end of a long series. It’s the loss of a comforting familiarity, the rhythm of Tuesday morning being devoted to such-and-such, and having to develop a new mindset for something else. What that something else will be has been decided a long time ago and it’s an appropriate successor to this series. Join me next week to discover what it will be.