Created by Ralph Smart
Starring Patrick McGoohan
- Includes all 39 first season episodes of the first season in their original UK broadcast order
- McGoohan biography and filmography
- Photo gallery
Released by A&E Home Video
Rating: NR, fine for all audiences
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Fans of old TV series will find this amusing, lovers of old spy shows should own.
John Drake (McGoohan), as he lets you know in the opening credits, is a secret agent for NATO, and works alone for the most part. They bring him in when there's a particularly messy situation. Not as suave a hero as James Bond, Drake is a steely, Perry Mason-esque spy. We never get a glimpse of his personal life, and he never gets involved with any of the many women whose lives he saves, but he efficiently and sometimes wittily solves his cases, always beating the international bad guys all in a tidy thirty-minute episode.
This program, the precursor to Secret Agent, is a classic; wonderfully fun and sometimes quite cheesy, with a hero you can always count on to win at least one big furniture-throwing fight an episode. Drake travels all over the world, meeting exotic people who always seem to know English, and often look rather Caucasian (even in India). Every once in a while, you may also see the young face of an actor that you may know--there are quite a few bit parts for now better-known actors in this series. The pace of the episodes is nice and fast--with only half an hour, everything gets quickly introduced and neatly tied up at the end, with a little narration from our hero to help us along.
The features on this disk were sparse, but complete. It's enough that we finally get the series on DVD here in the States since it never aired here. The McGoohan biography and filmography were both rather interesting--you may also know McGoohan from the series The Prisoner, and may have caught a glimpse of him in Braveheart or on Columbo. The photo gallery was rather extensive as well, with what seemed to be at least one photo from each episode, and many times, more than one. They capture the most dramatic moments of the series, of which there are quite a few. And while we’re on the subject of drama, the theme music is so overpoweringly catchy that you’ll be stalking around the office to the tune in your head for days. And I don’t consider this a drawback--the music completes the dangerous, often melodramatic tone of the series.
While it is dated, in black and white, with painted Caucasian actors from time to time, this series really is a lot of fun. If you find yourself tuning in to old shows like Perry Mason or are a hard-core Anglophile, you will heartily enjoy this series. If you’re already a fan, or if you like The Prisoner, pick it up.
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