“Have you ever met a bank-buyer before?”
Plot – Gene arrives in Istanbul with a suitcase tied to his wrist, and yet he still manages to look dead cool. Said suitcase contains one million dollars, payment for the return of a document stolen from one of Gene’s companies. Apparently it contains details of ‘the development project’ and took fifteen years to write, or something. The thieves put it in a safety deposit box, but some other nasty types kidnap one of Gene’s chums and threaten to kill him unless they get the key to that box.
So…there’s a deadlock going on. How are you, anyway?
Starring – The usual suspects – “Gene Barry and Barry Morse as Mr Parminter’. It’s the Parminter-watching-the-helicopter-take-off shot, as usual. I hate this section. I thought there was more of a mix between the two openings each week…
Guest Cast – Wolfe Morris (Sakuma), Mervyn Johns (Franz Kolmar), Jennie Linden (Kay Masterson), Burt Kwouk (Johnny Morrison), Robert Rietty (Bank Director), Al Garcia (Police Inspector), Howard Goorney (Hotel clerk).
Uncredited: A cat and two pelicans as themselves.
Writer – Donald James.
Director – Val Guest.
Locations – This episode opens with just over forty seconds of random stock footage attempting to suggest that we’re in Istanbul, but of course we’re not. ITC’s budget only ever really stretched to sunny European locales, and even then not until the start of the seventies. Any episode set outside of Europe would rely heavily on the stock footage, and this one’s no exception. We do get to see an airfield in Surrey or somewhere passed off as being in Istanbul, and there’s a warehouse place too, but they were probably on the backlot…
Oh, and there’s the usual ‘Turkish-sounding music’ that you’d expect…
Mission Briefing – No mission briefing. There are a few massive infodump scenes later on, but they don’t really count here…
The Bradley Way – We learn in this episode that Gene had a father, and that (apparently) he was young once. If you can believe it…
Oh, and he buys himself a bank in this episode. As you do.
Mr Parminter is a Very Cautious Man – Parminter isn’t even in this episode, Gene doesn’t so much as phone him in the middle of the night to ask for advice. I’m pretty sure this is the only episode in which he doesn’t appear. Unless of course I’m wrong, in which case I’ll just blame you.
“What About Diane?” – Yeah, and what about Scarecrow’s brain?
“And Gavin?” – I suspect he’s off somewhere, enjoying himself. As usual.
The Oldest Swinger in Town – Gene arrives in style with a rather hideous green and red striped jacket, which compliments his bright yellow shirt about as well as we’ve come to expect.
Once in his hotel room he immediately heads out onto the balcony and attempts to leap onto the one next door, losing about 50 pounds mid-jump as a stuntman takes over. Even losing that weight doesn’t help, as he doesn’t make it all the way and is left hanging by one hand over a piece of very high stock footage. Fortunately Gene is so incredibly strong that he can claw himself up the wall without too much bother, so that’s alright then. It killed a minute or so. And without going into too much detail the entire exercise proved utterly pointless in the end anyhoo, so it killed at least two minutes.
Later Gene beats up the baddy of the episode by waving his suitcase in the general direction of the camera. This apparently is enough to make his opponent fall over. Must remember that one. Later on he gets to beat up the same character again, and it’s a few of his standard moves. That ol’ elbow-jab-in-the-stomach bit never fails…anyway, I’ll go into that fight a little later…
“Alright, old friend – let me see you!” – Gene’s trusty pal of the week is Franz Kolmar, a perpetually worried-looking little man who apparently met Gene when he arrived in America looking to sell a new kind of computer or something, and they formed a company called Kolmar-Bradley Electronics. I know that because they have a completely random conversation about it just to fill up time, telling each other things that they already knew anyway.
“Shall we take them?” – Kay Masterson and Johnny Morrison masterminded the theft of the microfilm, though we’re not told how. They seem to live in a warehouse or something and aren’t particularly threatening. Gene even helps Kay look for Johnny when she can’t find him, and they discover that he’s met a sticky end at the hands of the real villains of the episode. Kay, surprisingly, doesn’t seem the least bit bothered by Johnny’s death. However, she does an about-face later on and joins Gene because he’s taught her the true meaning of Christmas or something. Aww.
A couple of big beefy Seventies men break into what they think is Gene’s hotel room moments after he checks in and tear the place apart. However, Gene anticipated this, and got the room next to the one he usually took. He’s cunning is our Gene. For some reason Johnny is staying there at that point. Or rather he isn’t. But his passport is. Whatever.
Anyway, these men of the seventies need a leader, and so, may I present…
Yes. Mr Satsuma. Mr Sat-frigging-suma. OK, everyone pronounces it ‘Sakuma’, and the credits say Sakuma too. However, the DVD booklet reprints the original ITC story outline, which calls him Satsuma, so presumably the character was originally named Satsuma. I mean, what sort of name for a baddy would Satsuma be if they had used it?
Or was this some kind of series arc, like that whole Bad Wolf malarkey? Was it planned that Gene would encounter other baddies named after fruits? The beautiful yet deadly Miss Lemon?
Suave ladies man Mr Apricot?
Sorry. Presumably, the penultimate episode would have ended on a cliffhanger, with Gene coming face to face with his arch-nemesis, Mr Tinned-Peach.
Sorry, sorry. But really, I mean…Satsuma? Honestly…
GENE: “My daddy always told me it takes two to…friendship.”
Not content with talking in riddles, Gene is now missing out words in his sentences…
Cracking Cliffhangers – What could have been a rather fun opening is somewhat ruined when the whole thing gets dragged out far too long. The receptionist at the hotel checks Gene’s suitcase, containing one million dollars in cash, and is understandably shocked. “It was all I could print before the press broke down.” Gene whispers. That would have been a nice enough opening, perfectly good. Unfortunately, the receptionist then says “One million dollars!” again, and Gene adds “Give or take 15 cents.”…which isn’t very amusing. Not that the first bit was overly amusing anyway, but still…
The Irony of It All – “You had it wrong right from the beginning.”
“What’s it all about, Gene?” – There’s no real reason offered as to why Gene’s just given in and is handing over a million dollars to the thieves. If this had been a phase 1 episode he would have had some cockeyed scheme involving a parachute jump, a marching band and a bulldozer. Giving in to blackmail isn’t his style – after all, two episodes ago he didn’t give in to them scoundrels who had nicked his painting, and that was surely more valuable than this microfile.
By the by, this is the way I work the series out:
Phase 1: Episodes 1-8. Gene, Diane and Gavin/Vince in Europe carrying out wacky plans.
Phase 2: Episodes 9-15: Gene by himself, having boring non-adventures made/set in the UK.
Phase 3: Episodes 16-20: Gene goes on holiday while Diane and Vince help a now-braindead Parminter solve crimes in Europe.
Phase 4: Episodes 21-26. Filming anything at all just to have the 26 episodes done ASAP.
Oh, and the ending…Gene beats up Satsuma, who gives up, then he shoots at the sniper, who just runs away. Mmm. Bit crap, that.
“It’s all rather difficult.” – Gene arrives in his hotel room, and for some reason we cut to the exact same scene as he nears the window. The only difference between the two shots is a very slight angle, but it’s very noticeable.
Once he gets to the window Gene is somewhat unsurprised to discover that the outside world is represented by a couple of paintings, helpfully shot at an angle which shows off as much of the studio ceiling as possible.
Gene takes a boat tour around in order to meet Kay, and a little boy runs past him towards his parents. Then, when we cut to a shot of Kay arriving, the boy runs past her heading for Gene again. Cut back to Gene, and the little boy is still with his parents. Bless.
The Defining Moment – As promised, Gene’s fight with Satsuma near the end of the episode and the ensuing shootout. Here it is. Gene beating up Mr Satsuma.
Just look at that. Thrilling. Truly thrilling.
Ramblings – Kay Masterson is presumably named after Bat Masterson, Gene Barry’s character in Bat Masterson. Let that be the only time the word ‘Masterson’ appears on this site without the word ‘Chase’ appearing in front of it.
Don’t have much else to add to this, frankly. Apologies.
Rating – 2/5. Another not great episode. For a good ten minutes or so we’ve no idea what’s going on, then suddenly we get masses of information that’s impossible to take in. There are changed plans and double-crosses all over the shop, so that doesn’t help either. A fairly average episode, all in all…