“Gene Bradley’s the last person they’d think of as a con…so you’d better make your pitch, and fast!”
Plot – Gene’s been in India for three months, but when he returns to London he finds that someone has been impersonating him and has arranged for a meeting with some top businessmen types at a house in Surrey that they’ve somehow acquired in his name. As usual Gene decides against reporting his dilemma to anybody, instead turning up at this function to take the place of his double and fool his accomplices – even though he doesn’t know their Evil Plan and can’t really bluff his way through it that well.
Nevertheless his performance is good enough to fool one Mr Parminter, who believes that this real Gene (who is of course the real Gene pretending to be the fake Gene pretending to be the real Gene) is merely the fake Gene pretending to be the real Gene, you see? The ‘fake’ must be neutralised pronto so Gavin is sent in to eliminate the imposter…permanently.
Starring – ‘Gene Barry with Garrick Hagon and Barry Morse as Mr Parminter.’ If you don’t know which clip of Parminter is used in these opening credits you will never never never know him at all.
(It’s the helicopter one.)
Guest Cast – Paul Eddington (Paul Charlesworth), Ronald Radd (Hilverston), Doug Fisher (Don Merrick), Joanna Jones (Julia), George Pravda (Newburg), Geofrrey Reed (Butler), Anthony Dawes (Lawson), Paul Hardwick (Winters), Bernard Severn (1st Businessman), Martin Carroll (2nd Businessman), Gail Galih (Stewardess)
Writer – Tony Williamson.
Director – Barry Morse.
Locations – There’s some location work outside Gene’s new Surrey residence (involving cars pulling up and leaving, and depositing and collecting assorted human beings) but nothing else.
Mission Briefing – No mission, so again, no mission briefing. That keeps things simple for me.
The Bradley Way – Gene’s been in the Lower Himalayas for the last three months filming yet another great motion picture epic. Probably. We also learn that he has, for some ten years now, had an aerospace company named LawCot – at least that’s what it sounds like it’s called.
Oh, and his car has been all fixed up after that nasty smash in the previous episode.
Mr Parminter is a Very Cautious Man – Parminter turns up at the meeting of useless businessmen types ostensibly to just, um, be there, but he’s actually there to confirm rumours he’s ‘got wind of’ that this is not the real Gene. Now…where did he get these rumours from? Did Gene phone him up in his Dick Van Dyke voice yet again? Cos he really should have worked that one out by now…
Anyway Parminter eventually takes matters into his own hands – knocking Gene out with a plant pot. Go Parmy!
“What About Diane?” – You won’t take no for an answer, will you?
“And Gavin?” – Yay! Parminter’s second greatest agent is on hand, lurking around outside Gene’s funky new house. Indeed, Parminter trips over him the moment he sneaks out to meet him for the ad-break cliffhanger, and I don’t know whose fault that is.
Anyway, Gavin is assigned to deal with the fake Gene, and although it’s not made clear it’s quite possible he was going to outright murder him to death. Which I have no problem with, obviously.
The Oldest Swinger in Town – Aside from some trendy holiday gear which I’ll go into later, Gene spends most of his time in his tux.
Aww. Look at the little oojums.
There’s no dancing, but plenty of shoving in the climactic fight scene. We’re also dropped hints of a tantalising off-screen adventure that Gene and Gavin shared (which has no doubt been covered in the numerous spinoff Adventurer novels and audio adventures); as Gavin corners what he believes to be the fake Gene (but is, you of course recall, the real Gene pretending to be the fake Gene pretending to be the real Gene) our hero must act quickly in order to save his own skin.
“Munich! Sauerkraut!” he cries.
Shoot him, Gavin, go on. He’s calling you names.
Gene, however, has one last card to play. “GRETA!”
Gavin lowers his gun. “And Arlene?” he asks.
Oh dear. I don’t want to know what Gene and Gavin were doing to Greta and Arlene with sauerkraut in Munich…
“Gene, I coulda killed you!”
Well, why didn’t you? Honestly, you had the perfect opportunity…Diane will be most upset…
“Alright, old friend – let me see you!” – Gene encounters a nameless old friend at the airport, who unfortunately has to decline the invitation to his ‘new place in Surrey’, thereby tipping Gene off to the Dastardly Plot. We also meet his personal financial whizzkid bod David, who seems incapable of talking on a telephone while getting dressed.
“Shall we take them?” – Our baddies this week are led by the late great Paul Eddington, as the cleverly-named Paul Charleston. Accompanying him are Don Merrick and Julia, and a dodgy butler named Butler. Oh, and what is their plan, you may ask? Well, they want to use Gene’s aerospace company (yes, apparently he has one of those too) and his reputation to trick the unsuspecting businessmen into investing in a new vertical take-off jet (the Z-190, no less) which they are going to start building tomorrow. If they can wangle some cheques out of these guys tonight, the bank will have them cleared by Friday and they can skip the country over the weekend with lots of lovely money. Simple. For once.
Silly, but simple. They haven’t really got their plan totally straightened out yet, although they have taken the time to build some little model planes for the purposes of their pitch.
But there’s also the matter of Gene’s double, he who wears the amazing rubber mask. Who could that be? Could it be the guy Gene met at the airport?
Perhaps David the accountant, who teamed up with these ne’er-do-wells in order to get his mitts on Gene’s vast fortune and thus ensure he has help when putting on his clothes?
Who is it, you may ask?
Why, it’s somebody we’ve never ever seen before. Obviously. His name’s Purvis, by the way, and that’s all we learn about him.
Quotable Quotes – At the airport, Gene encounters one of the few women in the world who doesn’t have a poster of him on her bedroom wall:
GENE: “Hello! Do you have any messages for me?”
STEWARDESS: “I beg your pardon, sir?”
STEWARDESS: “Messages? Ah, Mr Bradley, I hardly recognised you…”
What is it about Gene that leaves her unable to recognise him? Why, it’s his fishing gear:
Gene has just knocked out his double, and the baddies help him hide the body:
CHARLESTON (to Gene): “You might as well use Bradley’s wallet.”
MERRICK: “Yeah, good idea.”
“That way if you need to buy yourself a drink…in your own home…you’ll be able to. I think…”
HILVERSTON: “You know, I find it difficult enough to run the few companies I control. How on Earth you can manage a full-time career as an actor beats me!”
GENE: “In a way, one offsets the other.”
“Seeing as how I’m equally bad at both. Fortunately the writers only ever focus on one at any time…”
Gene effortlessly takes the place of his double and makes the pitch:
GENE: “Good evening, gentlemen. It’s a great pleasure for me to be here…a pleasure which, I’m sure, is going to be yours.”
That’s it, Gene. When in doubt, praise yourself to the Heavens…”It’s really a great pleasure for you to have me here tonight…”
GENE: “As you know, my interests are quite wide and very diversified…”
“I’m just an all-round terrific guy, but you knew that already, of course. Let me tell you more about how great I am…”
But – shock horror! After flailing around incoherently for a few minutes Gene is actually asked a question about The Evil Plan:
NEWBURG: “Why your company, Mr Bradley?”
GENE: “That’s a good question – one I can’t answer.”
Smooth, Gene. No-one’ll ever suspect…
Gene and Gavin admire the rubber mask of Gene’s double:
GAVIN: “Think of all the research, preparation, that went into that, it’s fantastic.”
GENE: “I wish I had a make-up man as good.”
Well, it’s a sad day when your own make-up man can’t even make you look like yourself…
GAVIN: “Didn’t think you used make-up…”
That’s not delivered as a joke, by the way. He’s deadly serious.
After Gene, Gavin and Parminter are captured:
MERRICK: “I had a feeling about you, Parminter!”
“Yes, you who is involved in maintaining law and order and often solves crime with Gene Bradley! I just knew you’d try to foul up our evil plans, which is of course why we invited you along tonight in the first place…hang on…”
Cracking Cliffhangers – After discovering cigarette ends and used drinks glasses on his table Gene phones up his accountant to find out what’s what as of late, and just what the heck-doody is supposed to be happening that night at this new place in Surrey of his. “Just tell me what I’ve been up the past few weeks.” he asks, before peering quizically into a glass as if he suspects he’s been on a drunken rampage all that time…
The Irony of It All – “You sure you know what to do?” / “If I don’t know by now, I never will.”
“What’s it all about, Gene?” – One punch from Big Gene’s beefy fist leaves his evil double unconscious for what must be a good 90 minutes or so. In contrast, a punch from Gavin mere seconds after he regains consciousness leaves him out for about 5 minutes. Gene clearly has the Fist of Power.
Anyway, the main plot problem with this episode is all to do with timings. Gene’s away for three months, yes? So, the baddies firstly had to know that before they could come up with their plan. They then, presumably, used the double to fool Gene’s accountant and a few friends into thinking that he’s back early…even though the real Gene is bound to be phoning every other day to check on his business matters, surely? We know what a busybody he is. In fact to get the rubber mask sorted out, and to have Purvis master Gene’s mannerisms, they’d have to have been working on their scheme long before Gene ever left for India.
We’re told the double has been posing as Gene for three weeks prior to this episode, yet he still hasn’t mastered his act and the crooks are still frantically trying to work out the details of their plan. What’s even dafter is that they decide to carry out that plan on the exact same day that Gene returns to England – and then act surprised to learn that he’s back in the country. If they knew when he was leaving…the next logical step would be to find out how long he would be away for, yes?
As far as I can see their thinking seems to have been that he just wouldn’t be coming back, ever. I can relate.
“It’s all rather difficult.” – The evil Gene sometimes seems to have been dubbed by David Bauer – badly.
The Defining Moment -The second most classic fight scene of the entire series (after The Benny Hill Show shenanigans of Return to Sender) occurs here. Plenty of Gene shovings, beatings for Parminter, Gavin tossing a suit of armour at somebody and having most of it land on his own boss, somebody else jumping on yet another somebody else’s back and running around with their arms flailing, the baddies waiting patiently for Gene to punch them, Paul Eddington giving Barry Morse a bear hug…it’s classic stuff and it’d be mean to deprive you all of it.
Once again I feel I have to point out that this was actually broadcast. Grown men brawling like five year-olds. Wonderful.
Also, can I see that bit of Gene getting conked on the head again?
Oh, that’s so satisfying.
Ramblings – I don’t really have anything much to stick here this week, as I have to confess I was enjoying the whole thing. Yes, enjoying, would you believe?
Actually, no, there is something to mention – Paul Eddington, giving perhaps the worst performance of his career. We all know he was a super-terrific actor, of course, and he was certainly no stranger to this ITC lark, but here he clearly can’t be bothered with any of it and is only there for the money. He can’t even keep a straight face when getting Gene-shoved.
And really, who can blame him?
Though Barry Morse once again has to be singled out for his repeated willingness to send this dross up above and beyond the call of duty.
Good on ya, Barry.
Rating – 4/5. Well now, this is much better. OK, it’s not great, and the scheme that the villains have come up with is laughably rushed, but the story holds together unless you really stop and think about it. It’s nice to have Gavin back (again), Paul Eddington’s in it, and there’s all sorts of silly shenanigans involving Parminter, which is all you really need in a decent Adventurer episode.
Gene Barry rounds out the cast.