“Gene could find himself like the proverbial lamb…”
Plot – Andre Korony is a guy trying to defect to the West from somewhere or other, but he’s gotten himself thoroughly lost and seems to have ended up back where he started. Whereas most people would probably just leave him to it Gene ‘Mr Selflessness’ Bradley is not about to be so cruel. And so he breaks out his best cardigan, hops into a glider, and gets bizzay…
Starring – ‘Gene Barry with Catherine Schell, Garrick Hagon and Barry Morse as Mr Parminter’. ‘e’s watching the helicopter. Still.
Guest Cast – Kara Wilson (Karen Voriska), George Mikell (Lanik), Martin Wyldeck (Prokov), John Malcom (Jansen), John Herrington (Korony), Frederick Schiller (Woodsman), Anna Kilpinen (Waitress).
Writer – Tony Williamson.
Director – Paul Dickson.
Locations – The story is set somewhere in Austria, but I doubt they left the country to film anything on this one. The forest looks very familiar from other ITC shows…
Mission Briefing – Oh sweet Lord. OK, here we go…
We open with a shot of a glider. Gene is inside it, swooping gracefully over some forest somewhere. How pretty. And that’s the only time you’ll see Gene’s name next to the words ‘graceful’ and ‘pretty’ throughout this guide.
And then…bam! “Parminter, I am going to get Andre Korony out from behind the Iron Curtain whether I get your approval or not!” declares Gene…now in his apartment, with Parminter. OK. Fairly sure I just saw him in a glider, but I guess I imagined that.
Parminter tells Gene to face reality: “Andre Korony is an old man.” “You mean he isn’t important enough?” replies Gene, understandably sensitive to such a remark. After all, if Korony is too old to rescue, where does that leave Gene should he ever need it?
Anyway, we get an unrelated shot of an anxious-looking Korony wandering around on the Elstree backlot, as Parminter explains that “Even if he is recaptured, they won’t harm him.” Gene however is not convinced. “You’re only guessing.” he says, heading for his bookshelf. “I have a reputation as a gambler…and I never play a hand when the stake is a human life.” Fair enough. As he’s saying this, he takes a book from his bookshelf and starts flicking through it, perhaps looking for his next lines.
Anyway, he continues. “Korony may not get us to Mars, but he’s been making motion pictures since I was in the cradle.” Blimey. That’s a hell of a long time ago, Gene. “Korony created techniques of motion picture making that are being used by the industry this very day.” he adds, and by now Parminter has visibly lost interest in this discussion but Gene’s showing no sign of stopping. “He was victimized. An overthrow of government. Some politician called his old picture subversive.” OK Gene, fine, we don’t care. Off you go, don’t let us stand in your way of saving him.
“You’ve convinced me.” says Parminter, and then Gene pulls a funny face. “Are you sure you haven’t let me talk myself into this?” he asks, and after all that whining he’s just been doing I really do want to slap him.
Agh! We’re back in the glider again! Up above the streets and houses, Geney flying high…
No, wait, scratch that! We’re now…um…well, with Gene again, as he admires himself in the mirror. He’s wearing a gendarme uniform, complete with dodgy moustache, for some reason that doesn’t figure into the plot. Presumably this is on a movie set, but…oh, whatever.
Parminter fills us in. “I got all the information you wanted. Korony was defecting to the West, but somehow or other his navigation went all to pot and he finished up on the wrong side of the Curtain.” Um…isn’t that something Gene should already know? If he doesn’t know this, then how does he know that Korony needs help escaping? Is it just another example of Gene’s uncanny sense of, um…knowing things?
Anyway Parminter hands over a folder containing details on Korony’s location, which is a brilliant idea provided that he hasn’t actually, y’know, moved about or anything (and how’d they find this out? Argh…) and Gene says that he’s made arrangements to leave. By glider, obviously.
“Your idea of the glider was a good one.” says Parminter, as we cut back to the glider. Inside, Gene grins. “Yet I appear to arrive by accident.” he says. And that’s not part of the conversation with Parminter, he is actually saying that. Many hours or even days after that conversation. He has in fact been reliving it in his head, or something. Whatever. The guy’s clearly insane.
Are we done? Can I go now?
Argh, no! There’s more! After we get a glimpse of Diane handing…something…to two children in a hotel room in the village of Viederhau, we cut back to Parminter and Gene as they discuss Diane and Gavin’s roles. Gene is now wearing a snazzy blue dressing gown, so…I don’t know what’s happening. And there’s still more…
Parminter notes that once Gene lands he’s going to be on his own, which is confusing as they’ve just said that Diane is going to be there. “You’re such a comfort.” replies Gene. “Yes. So is Karen Voriska.” “Who?” asks Gene, and I have to admit I’m on his side here, given that that sentence came out of nowhere. Anyway, Parminter says that she’s Korony’s niece, and ‘for some mysterious reason’ she’s also in Viederhau. Mmm. Very mysterious. But at least she’s a comfort. Which is nice.
Gene dons a jacket and glances in the mirror again revealing that, yes, we’re still in his dressing room, and apparently Parminter has been talking to Gene long enough for him to get through two changes of clothes and possibly a bath as well.
THIS IS A SERIOUSLY MESSED UP PROGRAM.
The Bradley Way – He crashes the glider into a tree and knocks himself out. Serves him right.
No-one in Viederhau actually notices that this is the great Gene Bradley, famous movie star and all that other stuff. Aside from a room, Gene requests a toothbrush and a change of clothes. Nothing else like, for example, toothpaste. Just a toothbrush. Hmm. Anyway the hotel manager carefully weighs up the pros and cons of all the various toothbrushes in his fine establishment, and decides to loan Gene his own. Yuck. For both of them. It’s a pointless conversation anyway, as we never see him get either the toothbrush or the clothes.
Gene is given the codename of ‘Silent Bird’ for this mission. Presumably his own suggestion – something like ‘Stud Muffin’, I’d imagine – wasn’t taken seriously…
Mr Parminter is a Very Cautious Man – Parminter makes arrangements for Gene to leave the country, and after that ear-bashing he got at the start of the episode he’s probably keen to get rid of him. Despite not appearing for the rest of the episode, his call-sign in this operation is ‘Taurus’.
“What About Diane?” – Diane poses as a schoolteacher in Viederhau, which must be a pretty difficult cover to arrange. Anyhoo, she gives Gene a little mini-briefing when he arrives, telling him things that she couldn’t possibly have known but that he has to know in order to make the plot work. Other than that she spends most of the episode in the inn at the bar drinking lots and lots of coffee.
Oh, and her radio call sign is ‘Night Owl’, when she uses a radio in what looks like a hatbox to contact Gavin.
“And Gavin?” – Although mentioned at the start of the episode Gavin doesn’t actually appear for a good fifteen minutes, when he is seen at an airfield passing on a message from ‘Night Owl’ to ‘Taurus’. He himself is given the rather odd codename of ‘Fever Swan’.
He takes to the air in Thunderbird Six in order to search for Gene and to provide info on what the opposition is up to. He then drops a casket containing two rockets down by parachute, in order to provide the glider with enough of the old upward thrust in order to get it off the ground when Gene and Andre make their escape at the end of the episode.
The Oldest Swinger in Town – After crashing the glider, Gene makes an Indiana Jones-style leap over a stream, despite the fact that it’s only about an inch wide and he could have easily walked over it. Ham.
Almost immediately after this happens someone with a sniper rifle (later revealed to be Korony, of all people) takes a few potshots at him, and Gene takes his time about getting down on the floor. His sunglasses stage a diversion so that he can escape, but he never goes back to collect them. There’s gratitude for ya.
Gene sneaks up on Prokov in the wine cellar, pulling him off a staircase and onto his back. Ow. Lanik casually chases after him with a gun, and after a little to-ing and fro-ing Gene arms himself with a great big hammer, using it to knock a barrel free. That throws Lanik off balance, and Gene takes advantage of the situation by shoving him. Hard. They scuffle around for a few moments before Karen gets hold of the gun and shoots him. Lanik, that is, not Gene.
At about 18 and a half minutes in, Gene gives Karen herself a hearty shove to the forest floor. Steady on, old boy.
After Karen reveals that she’s a GRM (more on that later) she pulls out a gun. Korony goes to grab his rifle, and the distraction allows Gene to take the gun from Karen. She then takes off running, and Gene shoots the rifle out of Korony’s hands, before throwing his own gun into the bushes and leading Korony away. Uh-huh. Good plan, boys. I’m sure if those nice people who are chasing after you with guns actually find you, they’ll just helpfully stand there while you slap them around a bit.
Gene ambushes Lanik and Prokov in the forest, hitting one of them with a really big stick and knocking him off his motorbike. The other one promptly falls off his own bike in sympathy, and then Gene comes up and helpfully jabs the stick in his stomach. ‘e’s a true gentleman.
“Alright, old friend – let me see you!” – Considering how much he was wittering on about him at the start of the episode I assumed Korony was an old acquaintance of Gene’s, but that turned out not to be the case.
“Shall we take them?” – Lots of people talk about GRMs in this episode, but I have no idea what those are. Online searches for definitions of that abbreviation turn up very little (unless the baddies are meant to be the feared Geospatial Resource Managers). Otherwise it’s a couple of shifty-looking types named Lanik and Prokov, as well as the woman posing as Karen Voriska and a half-dozen nameless soldiers (one of whom appears to be Terry Walsh).
Quotable Quotes –
GENE – “I was expecting a toothbrush.”
DIANE – “Oh. I didn’t know.”
It’s unforgettable dialogue like this that has made The Adventurer such a timeless classic. For all I know this could be adlibbed.
DIANE: “Lanik and Prokov.”
GENE: “Are you sure it isn’t Prokov and Lanik?”
Gene…enlighten me, is your brain actually connected to your mouth at all? I only ask because most of the time it seems to be making up random nonsense sentences….
GENE: “Mind if I join you?”
KAREN: “Well, I-“
GENE: “It’ll give me an excuse to order champagne.”
KAREN: “I don’t think you’ll find any champagne here.”
GENE: “Then I won’t be alone.”
Er…well, no, you won’t. I suppose. He’s doing it again…
GENE (sitting on a motorbike): “Did you ever ride a horse?”
KORONY shakes his head.
GENE: “Get on.”
“You see, back home, the ladies call me ‘Stallion’…”
Cracking Cliffhangers – Some dodgy editing tries to convinces us that we are in fact seeing Gene crash his glider into a tree, and also that we should be worried that he’s knocked himself out. Personally I was just glad of a few moments without him constructing meaningless sentences…
The Irony of It All – “Parminter’ll be delighted. He just loves happy endings.”
Garrick Hagon was fired after this episode. What a happy ending indeed.
“What’s it all about, Gene?” – Lots of problems here. Specifically, Karen is mentioned in Parminter’s part of the mission briefing, despite the fact that she later turns out to be a fake and I don’t understand how they knew she was there anyway.
Korony is apparently being looked after by some old man, or something. But at the start of the episode he is the one who shoots at Gene when he lands.
Karen can apparently outrun two guys on motorbikes. Whatever.
The plan to get Korony and Gene out and away in the glider by attaching rockets to it seems a little far-fetched – though obviously it wouldn’t be The Adventurer without a far-fetched plan – but when even Gavin says “I really don’t think it’s going to work.” you’ve got to stop and wonder just what was going through the minds of the people who wrote this stuff…
“It’s all rather difficult.” – An odd moment occurs when the waitress tells Gene that there is no dinner menu, only a set meal – “Schweinefleische und sauerkraut” – Gene replies “Just what I had in mind.” Halfway through the line, he giggles and then wipes his chin as if he’s dribbling. Perhaps he was hungry, and the thought of all that tasty sauerkraut just set him off…
At about 17 minutes 53 seconds in there’s a gap of absolutely black nothingness sitting between two scenes. Nicely done, fellas.
The Defining Moment – it’s got to be the mission briefing, as outlined above. Utterly utterly insane. Seriously, who in their right mind would carry on watching the show after such a massive infodump?
In second place however would be Lanik and Prokov chasing Gene and Korony very slowly through a thick forest on motorbikes, with one of them actually falling off at one point. Whatever.
Ramblings – Seventies Michael Palin appears to be staying at the inn.
Watch out for a cameo from Ian Hislop later in the series.
There’s a couple of Man from U.N.C.L.E. style switch-pan cuts to the next scene this week. That’s a good move – remind your audience of a show they’d probably much rather be watching than this…
Cyril Shaps appears to be dubbing the voice of Prokov in one scene.
The episode again features the shorter version of the theme music over the closing credits.
Rating – 2/5. Um…it’s not that good, really. The plot is all over the place, as usual, and really doesn’t seem to have been thought through. The guest characters are uninteresting and nothing of interest really happens.