The Adventurer episode 18 – To the Lowest Bidder

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title

“Just a few words with your father, Miss Cookson – to let him know where you are…”


Production

production

Plot – Sam Cookson is in trouble – desperate trouble, and he needs Gene’s help. Yes, he’s that desperate.

Sam is a civil servant based in Brussels, and he’s on a committee that’s about to “award the contract for the new European Superhighway”. Unfortunately for him one of the bidders is making threats against his daughter…

Starring – ‘Gene Barry with Barry Morse as Mr Parminter’, who this week is outside his office, walking in the rain. It’s a glorious feeling, and he’s happy again.

Guest Cast – Anthony Nicholls (Samuel Cookson), Jane Asher (Sarah Cookson), Sheila Gish (Laura), Carl Rigg (Forrester), Gillian Bailey (Lizzy), David Kelly (Carlson), John York (Johnny), Alf Joint (Gaston), David Pugh (Milkman).

Writer – Donald James

Director – Val Guest.

Locations – Gene, Sam and Parminter are seen on location in Brussels, and then Gene flies back to England in time to visit a farm and (I think) Pinewood Studios, which are both doubling as a girls school. In fact, this episode has events going on in both places simultaneously, which is a nice change…

Mission Briefing – No real mission briefing – Sam chats to Gene over a coffee, then brings Parminter up to speed off-screen.


The Characters

characters

The Bradley Way – Our first sight of The Adventurer in this episode sees him pulling in at his little apartment in his little car just as the milk is being delivered in little bottles. He has a young lady in tow named Laura, whom he takes upstairs…to the lounge, which I’ve always assumed was at ground level. In fact, if I remember correctly, a later episode proves that to be the case. Maybe he has one on each floor and they’re identical. That’s just what he would do.

Anyway, he goes into a side-room which shouldn’t really exist according to the exterior shots in order to fetch breakfast – an ice bucket with a bottle of champagne sticking out of it, treating us to the rather disturbing sight of Gene holding the bottle at crotch level, trying to pop the cork.

We’re told early on in this episode that one of Gene’s many many companies put in a bid to construct this new road…so can you guess how this episode ends?

Surprisingly, Gene’s company doesn’t get the contract, losing out instead to that no-good swine Senor Bartelli. I hate Senor Bartelli…

Mr Parminter is a Very Cautious Man – It turns out that good ol’ Parminter is “in charge of security here” – ‘here’ being Brussels. He’s now regrown his brain, but seems somewhat indifferent to the whole daughter-threatening situation, although he does follow Cookson and seems to magically produce police by pointing off-screen with his could-be-a-brolly-but-I’m-not-sure.

It’s a magic brolly, y’know.

“What About Diane?” – No Diane. Boo.

“And Gavin?” – No Gavin, however Parminter has brought along a man in a purple shirt to record Cookson’s phone calls so that’s alright.

The Oldest Swinger in Town – Gene shows off a new fighting technique here – shutting people in their own car doors so that he can (eventually, once his momentum has sorted itself out) punch them. Later on he manages to block a punch from Forrester, and then somehow knock the guy out with his own fist. That’s class, is that.

“Alright, old friend – let me see you!” – Gene seems to know Sam Cookson of old, and introduces himself to his daughter as ‘a friend’ – although this episode he didn’t know Sam even had a daughter so maybe he doesn’t know him that well at all.

“Shall we take them?” –  For once this week’s baddies have an actual motive that makes some sort of sense. A chap called Forrester works for an unnamed company that’s bidding to make this new super highway, and so he’s threatening to do unspeakable things (in that he never speaks of them, so I don’t know what they are) to Cookson’s daughter if Cookson doesn’t provide him with details of all the bids put in by the other companies, so that he can undercut them at the last minute.

To this end, he hired Laura to search Gene’s apartment for some reason. The DVD booklet says that she was to get close to Gene in order to find out his company’s bid, but that’s not in any way apparent on screen. He also hired O’Reilly the builder from Fawlty Towers, as well as Johnny, a strange little man in a pink shirt with facial hair that doesn’t quite seem to have decided to become a mustache yet.

johnny

As you can see, that thar hair is keeping its options open as to what it wants to be when it grows up.

There’s also a fellow called Gaston back in Brussels, waiting to meet Cookson.


Dialogue

dialogue

Quotable Quotes –

PARMINTER: “Contrary to the cinematic representation of this kind of work, the basic requirement for my staff and myself in circumstances like this, is, ah…simply patience.”

SAM COOKSON: “Patience? While my daughter is still in danger?”

“Well, there is always the Four Stage Program…”

“And what’s that?”

“Well, in Stage One we say that nothing is going to happen. Stage Two, we say something may be going to happen but we should do nothing about it…”

GENE (while at the school): “I’d say you’ve got quite a job handling those sixty little English roses.”

SARAH COOKSON: “Rosebuds.”

GENE: “You call ’em rosebuds, but let me tell you, they’re flowering.”

Gene…I don’t know much about women, but trying to get them to fancy you by perving over a load of eleven year-olds is not likely to work. At all.

Urgh.

GENE: “Did you hear some of the questions they asked me?”

No – but let me guess. The top three have to be “How old are you really?”, “That isn’t your real hair, is it?” and “Where do you get all your cardigans and duffelcoats?”

GENE: “Lock this door until I get back – and keep it locked!”

Er…what? “Yes, even when I get back, keep this door locked! No matter how much I kick and shout and scream! Never ever leave this room!”

Still, I suppose I should be fair. He’s obviously trying to move on from talking gibberish to constructing actual coherent sentences…just needs to work on ordering his ideas…

Cracking Cliffhangers – Sam calls up Gene to ask for help, and Gene just stands there blankly for a good three seconds or so before going “Sam? Sam!” but alas, Sam does not reply. The camera pans down to a map of Europe (the route of the super highway is marked but at this point we don’t know what it is), with a gun on it. Cue credits, with the only possible conclusion being that Sam is planning to shoot Europe.

Oh, and it looks like some mice have been chewing the film.

film

Once again I’d be fascinated to find out if the original negatives of this series survive or not.

The Irony of It All – Um…nope. Nothing evenly remotely ironic to be squeezed in here.


Other Notes

notes

“What’s it all about, Gene?” – Once again when someone has a problem they call in Gene the aging movie star rather than the police. The fact that one of Gene’s companies is bidding for the chance to construct this new road should surely prevent him from helping anyway, it’s a conflict of interest…

We don’t get to see Lizzy being released by the baddies – they catch her, then call Sarah and she drives out to meet them. We then get a shot of Lizzy in a bush, then Sarah…then Lizzy arriving back at school. Uh-huh.

“It’s all rather difficult.” – There’s the aforementioned chewed frame, and the camera crew put in an appearance near the end of the episode, reflecting off a window.

reflect

At least I thought it was the camera crew originally, although now I notice they seem to have a dog with them (or possibly a calf?) so more likely they’re bystanders. With nothing better to do than watch The Adventurer being filmed, apparently.

The Defining Moment – Gene walks out in front of the baddies’ speeding car and then looks terribly surprised when they try to run him down – evidently he was hoping his sheer funkiness would subdue them.

Ramblings – The music accompanying Sam Cookson staggering back to his hotel is very appropriate for the scene of a drunk old guy wandering around, being about as groovily Seventies as it is possible to get.

Now then – this episode feels like it belongs much earlier in the series than this point. Look at some of the pictures – Gene appears less melted than he has done recently, and not only that but Parminter’s brain has grown back for this week and this week only. The only explanation I can think of is that this episode was held back to break up the Genieless episodes for those viewers who were missing him, but that doesn’t really sense – the DVDs don’t present the episodes in broadcast order. Up until this point I assumed they were in production order, but unless this episode spent an eternity in post-production then now I’m not so sure…

For those of you who care, this is the series broadcast order.

1. Miss Me Once, Miss Me Twice and Miss Me Once Again
2. Poor Little Rich Girl
3. Thrust and Counter Thrust
4. The Bradley Way
5. Return to Sender
6. Counterstrike
7. Love Always, Magda
8. Nearly the End of the Picture
9. Deadlock
10. Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly?
11. Skeleton in the Cupboard
12. Target!
13. Action!
14. Full Fathom Five
15. I’ll Get There Sometime
16. To the Lowest Bidder
17. Going, Going…
18. The Not-So Merry Widow
19. Mr. Calloway Is a Very Cautious Man
20. Double Exposure
21. The Case of the Poisoned Pawn
22. The Solid Gold Hearse
23. Make It a Million
24. Icons Are Forever
25. Somebody Doesn’t Like Me
26. The Good Book

There. Now, that more or less follows my four Adventurer ‘phases’ that I mentioned a while back, with just a few slight changes to spread the Diane and Gavin episodes out a little further. Interesting that The Good Book got held back for so long, unless they were saving that classic village chase scene to go out on a high.

Anyway, that doesn’t really solve the problem of why this episode feels like it belongs earlier in the series, so I guess the DVD order might be the original intended broadcast order which was then changed for some reason, or one of those odd ‘ITC recommended’ broadcast orders that never followed any logical sense.

Though that rather assumes ITC would ever have really recommended the series to anyone anyway…

Rating – 3/5. Well, this one’s OK, but after the last two weeks it’s a bit of a let down to return to these sorts of stories. Nevertheless I know that there’s much worse to come, so I’ll be kind to this one…

It’s just so…tedious. Tedious gubbins, if you will.

1

“I love my new magic policeman-producing umbrella/walking stick thingy. Fwoosh! Fwoosh!”

2

“This ‘ere’s private. It tis, it tis, it tis!”

3

Note the fellow in the background. Yes, him with the teddy-bear ears. Bless.

4

Gene wasn’t wrong when he said the girls were flowering, and…heh…oh, forget it…

5

“Fwoosh!”