“Oh, don’t be like that, Gene. I could have had you run down…”
Plot – The matter has become urgent! We have only five days in which to act! So, let’s get cracking!
It has come to the attention of somebody or other that something or other is happening, and that something is not good. Gene goes to Amsterdam and poses as somebody who looks exactly like him but of course isn’t him, honest guv, in order to scare some arms dealers into doing…something. Which they were going to do anyway. But now they have to do it faster.
Meanwhile, Parminter wears lots of silly hats.
Starring – ‘Gene Barry and Barry Morse as Mr Parminter’. Once again, Parminter is outside the International Activities Branch of the Ministry of External Affairs, and are we supposed to infer from that he is THE Minister for External Affairs?
Cos he isn’t very good at it…
Guest Cast – Guy Deghy (Willet Mosselman), George Sewell (Harry Venner), Astrid Frank (Astrid), Michael Godfrey (Captain Arilla), Alan Downer (Police Inspector), Denis McCarthy (Porter), Leslie Crawford (Jan), Tristan Rogers (Dieter).
Writer – Phillip Broadley. And that means…
Director – Cyril Frankel! Oh, this is gonna suck…
Locations – We’re back in Amsterdam this week, and not just through stock footage this time. Gene gets to wander around a lot, looking very shifty as he does so, and he gets to hail taxis and run along bridges and visit a funfair, don’t y’know. He also gets to visit some docks, somewhere.
Mission Briefing – Gene and Parminter meet on a ferris wheel to infodump on each other, but that doesn’t happen until after the opening titles so I refuse to count it here. Nyah nyah nyah.
The Bradley Way – Gene takes on the alias of ‘Mr Cotton’ as he goes undercover. “You’re probably confusing me with that Gene Bradley guy!” he quips when told he looks familiar. Whilst doing this he seems to be chewing gum, which I suppose might be worth mentioning. I think it’s an attempt to make him look tough or something. He refuses cigarettes (“They’re bad for you!”) and a cigar – but only after he’s taken one and wiped his nose on it. Charming.
Anyway, his cover is blown within minutes of the operation beginning, setting a new record in incompetence for Parminter’s department. Perhaps the whole “You’re confusing me with that guy who looks and sounds exactly like me, honestly!” thing was the wrong approach, as indeed was publicizing his arrival in the papers…
Later Gene arranges a meeting with one of the baddies, who instead sends one of his associates along with a sniper rifle. Gene waits around and then, just as the sniper is preparing to fire he slips, dislodging a roof tile that falls to the street below and shatters. Instantly Gene is on the move, hiding behind a car, then a dustbin, before stealing someone’s boat and making a speedy getaway.
Mr Parminter is a Very Cautious Man – Parminter is in Amsterdam – though Barry Morse isn’t, if you get my meaning. He’s in this episode quite a bit, meeting with Gene on a ferris wheel and in the back of a horse-drawn carriage. Aww. Oh, and he’s modelling lots of new and exciting hats throughout this tale.
“What About Diane?” – I’d like to think that Parminter left her in charge whilst he jetted off to Amsterdam.
“And Gavin?” – Left in charge of Parminter’s fish, no doubt.
The Oldest Swinger in Town – I can’t remember why, exactly, but Gene spots a barge and he likes barges. Them’s good to kip on, is them. Anyway, Gene runs like a…well, like..
…like this, really, keeping his arms totally straight and looking very silly, before leaping onto said barge. It may well be Gene Barry doing the jump for real, but I can’t be sure. Once safely aboard Gene wanders up to the skipper and says hello, and gets a similar greeting in reply. His next words – “Forgive my curiosity…” – were apparently ill-chosen, as this guy suddenly yelps and kicks Gene but our hero is ready for this, grabbing the offered foot and sort of shaking it around a bit. Mr Barge Captain then forces his hand onto Gene’s face, but crafty ol’ Gene gets out of that one by letting go of his foot and using his phenomenal strength to lift the guy over his head and toss him into the water. Go Gene!
And then there’s the standard end-of-episode fight scene, as the baddies chase Gene into a warehouse. These villains have obviously not been warned about Gene’s cunning ruthlessness, and so they are not expecting him to suddenly swing towards them dangling on the end of a rope, delivering each one a swift boot to the face. Just to make sure he throws some empty cardboard boxes at them before leaping onto some sacks and rolling around on them for a while. Hey, if it keeps him from talking nonsense I don’t mind what he gets up to…
“Alright, old friend – let me see you!” – No old friends of Gene’s in this episode, surprisingly enough – though the credits do list a ‘Jan’, and of course Gene’s friend from Double Exposure was named Jan and lived in Amsterdam. That rhymes. Nice.
“Shall we take them?” – Gene visits businessman (well, I assume – he has an office and a secretary, but I’ve no idea what he actually does) Willet Mosselman (though Gene tends to pronounce it ‘Muscleman’), who is apparently the frontman for an English fellow named Harry Venner, as played by George Sewell. “He’s a shark. He deals in destruction.” Not that you’d really know that from the episode, as Mosselman and Venner spend most of their time in the bar. Harry has a soft spot for Gene (“He’s such a vivid artist…He has charisma. I like his films.” – think you might be thinking of somebody else, mate) and so regrets having to kill him, but it is necessary after all if his plan is to succeed.
And what is his plan? “6 atomic shells…South America…military coup.” are all things mumbled by Gene in an attempt to explain what the heck is going on here. These shells have been packed into computers, allowing Gene to end the episode with a “Programmed to kill.” quip. Chortle.
And once again I have to ask – why are neither of these two the least bit surprised that a world-famous movie star is the one trying to scupper their plans? If I were a Seventies bad guy doing bad things in the Seventies and Cary Grant was trying to thwart my bad scheme I just might be ever so slightly perplexed.
Quotable Quotes –
GENE: “He said he’d never heard of him. But…”
GENE: “Right on!”
Gene…Gene, please…never, ever, EVER say “Right on!” again. I mean it.
ASTRID: “Goodbye, Mr Bradley.”
GENE: “Hello! Hello!”
“I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello. Hello!”
CAPTAIN ARILLA: “When I woke this morning…if I had guessed, out of the blue – Gene Bradley! Oh, it’s funny, you know?”
GENE: “Yeah, yeah. I know what you mean.”
Well, I don’t. Enough with the banter. Honestly, if they spent less time on confusing banter and more time on carefully explaining the plot, my life would be so much simpler…
CAPTAIN ARILLA: “You wanna come with me to Rio?”
And now Gene’s getting chatted up by a sailor. Just what the series was missing up to this point, I feel.
Cracking Cliffhangers – Mosselman calls up Harry Venner: “Harry? I just had a visit from a film star – Gene Bradley.”
And that’s it. Ooh, I’m on the edge of my seat.
The Irony of It All – “I don’t yield to bully boys.”
“What’s it all about, Gene?” – Um…I don’t get the bit on the barge. Gene leaps on there, throws the skipper overboard, then apparently gets a guided tour from the rest of the crew before being dropped off. Far as I could see, it was just to kill time…kiiiill tiiiime…
“It’s all rather difficult.” – Dodgy continuity causes Gene to apparently get through several sets of clothes on and off during the course the episode. Also putting in an appearance is the shadow of a boom mike.
Yay for one of my favorite technical cock-up scenes! After the opening titles Gene meets Parminter on a ferris wheel. There are three shots here – a two shot of Gene and Parminter, then a closeup of each of them. It was always going happen – evidently the back projection chappy wandered off to make a sandwich or something, thereby causing reality to fracture as Gene’s closeups show him to be moving up the ferris wheel, and Parminter’s show that they’re moving down. Not only that, but the two-shot might then show them reaching the very top of the wheel, only for a closeup to suddenly begin lifting them up even higher.
Eventually, it all falls apart and descends into utter glorious randomness, in the best traditions of dodgy chase and fight scenes. Tis gold, is this bit.
The Defining Moment – Aside from the aforementioned barge and ferris wheel scenes, we have a third contender this week. It is decided that Gene needs to be given a ‘warning’ – and Mosselman has Astrid arrange to meet Gene in some long alley somewhere, as you do. But…
Two guys in a yellow car appear and begin a deadly game of cat and Gene. Our hero leaps this way and that, ultimately turning into a John Saxon lookalike and leaping to safety. Damn…
Ramblings – Um…no, I’ve got nothing here. Sorry. Oh, except that I have no idea who that woman is in the Target! picture in the DVD booklet.
Rating – 2/5. We’re now over halfway through the series, which is good because episodes like this have a very limited appeal and I can’t honestly take much more of this. In this one, you get the feeling that something is happening and is making sense, but all that is off-screen and we’re watching the scenes in which nothing of interest happens. So…yeah. I can’t say I was particularly enthralled by this installment of Gene Barry goodness.