“From now on, I look twice at a guy with his hands in his pocket, any car that comes too close…anything, and everything…”
Plot – At last we’ve reached the series finale, and the various plot threads that have been woven expertly throughout the previous 25 episodes come to a head here as the criminal underworld finally decides to do away with the meddlesome Gene Bradley once and for all. The reward for whomsoever can engineer his death is a mere £50,000, but Gene ignores all warnings until he takes off in his little plane for parts unknown and realises it has been sabotaged.
Narrowly escaping death by, um, landing the plane again, Gene continues to face half-hearted threats against his life. Somebody obviously doesn’t like him…but who?
Let’s face it, it could feasibly be any character he’s ever come into contact with over the course of the series, but the answer, you’ll be stunned to hear, is a), none of the above, and b), someone we’ve never seen before.
Starring – ‘Gene Barry with Garrick Hagon and Barry Morse as Mr Parminter’, who is, for one final time, doffing his hat outside his Ministry of External Affairs.
Guest Cast – Penelope Horner (Krista), Peter Vaughan (Roberts), Reginald Marsh (Sorenson), Robin Hawdon (Buckley), Jim Norton (Morgan), William Abney (Co-Pilot), James Ware (Reynolds), Jeremy Higgins (Barman), Edward Dentith (Commissionaire).
I expect that Dentith was the person Jon Pertwee went to see when he had tooth-ache.
Uncredited – Mike Stevens (Concerned Mechanic).
Writer – Donald James.
Director – Cyril Frankel.
Locations – There’s some minimal London location filming involving cars and locations and roads and suchlike.
Mission Briefing – No mission, no briefing.
The Bradley Way – Nothing much to say about Gene this week. In fact, this episode is rather light on character moments. 88-Delta is sabotaged (some sort of panel is removed and fluid is leaked all over the floor of the hangar, something that nobody actually notices until after the plane has taken off) but manages to make it back to the ground in one piece, and we learn that Gene has a favourite hairdressers…
Mr Parminter is a Very Cautious Man – Parminter doesn’t really do a lot here either. He knows Gene’s a marked man but he doesn’t do much to help matters, except pull his ‘Oh dear’ face. He’s also had a set of keys cut for every lock in Gene’s house, and seems terribly amused by Gene’s newspaper obituaries.
Overall Parminter does very little, but does get the honor of appearing in the final shot of the series.
“What About Diane?” – I still pray for a spinoff series.
“And Gavin?” – Gavin makes a brief appearance when he ‘murders’ Gene outside the ATV studios in order to negate the ongoing threat against his chum’s life. It’s a pretty confusing moment for casual viewers actually, as the only way we know it’s him is when he quickly glances back over his shoulder while making his escape. Seeing as how he’s been largely absent from the series recently some sort of dialogue between Gene and Parminter about getting someone to carry out this murder might have been helpful. As it is it just looks like he’s finally decided to have Gene done away with in an unrelated subplot.
The fact that he and the villains seem to share the same car only strengthens this idea.
The Oldest Swinger in Town – Our final episode brings us some final classic fashion moments. Here, we have a perfectly reasonable top half, and a downright goofy bottom half no doubt made from a picnic blanket..
Also, the final episode brings back a long forgotten facet of Gene’s ‘character’ – that he’s a master of disguise.
Mmm. Well, maybe there was a reason they forgot about that…he disguises himself as a hitman, you see, to fool the baddies into thinking that he killed himself, and…yeah. He hides in the shadows once he reaches the baddies’ hideout anyway, so the reason for the disguise remains unclear.
“Alright, old friend – let me see you!” – Gene meets up with Krista, an ex-girlfriend – or is she? “You tried to relieve me of $100,000.” he reminds her, following a lot of vague “It’s been a long time.” “Yes, it has.” “You remembered.” “Yes, I did.” guff. Anyway, by the end of the episode he’s willing to take a chance on her again. “It could be worth it.” Aww. I hope she bleeds you dry, Gene.
She also has a chum, Johnny Morgan, who informs Gene about the plot to kill him. He learned about it by strolling down to the villains’ dockside warehouse lair and just randomly overhearing it, but he pays with his life as the baddies kill him by sticking him in one of those beds that fold up into a wall…
“Shall we take them?” – Mr Sorenson, and his chums Roberts, Buckley and Andy Williams-lookalike Reynolds apparently live in warehouse 47 at the London Docks, where they plot the downfall of Gene Bradley along with various other shifty-looking types.
“Sorenson? Of course, that figures. Last month, one of my firms was on the verge of making a deal. When I discovered Sorenson was involved, I pulled out…There were 5 international companies, all privately owned. When I pulled out, they all did.”
Right. So you were being a jerk to this guy, and convinced your friends to do the same, thus setting him off on his life of crime? Gene, you have a lot to answer for…you bully.
Anyway the whole gang is arrested at the end of the episode, and they confess immediately, and even for Adventurer baddies they’re distinctly feeble and unmemorable.
Quotable Quotes –
The baddies plot, rhubarb rhubarb-style, in a warehouse:
BADDY #1: “Let’s have your report. On the shops.”
BADDY #2: “Well, I don’t think he’s any good at all…”
Ah, the perils of ad-libbing on a series you hope no-one’s ever going to see you in…
Cracking Cliffhangers – Some guy we’ve never seen before (Johnny Morgan) narrowly escapes from some other guys we’ve never seen before (the baddies, one of whom mutters something about a “reckoning with Gene Bradley”) by craftily hiding behind their car. All while grinning inanely, for some reason. When they all get in and drive away he sits up in full view of anybody who possesses an eye and a rear-view mirror, and promptly throws himself in a ditch.
Not the most thrilling of openings. Fortunately the mid-episode ad break cliffhanger is much more memorable, as Gene walks up to a shattered mirror and straightens his tie. It’s meant to be a cool Bondian moment, and if it were anyone else it would be, but it’s not, it’s Gene, so it’s hilarious.
The Irony of It All – Gene’s “Maybe we should make sure that something does…happen…” would be the pick if this were any other story, but the final line of the final episode of the series has to take this honor: Gene’s rather poignant “Lock up, will you…and put the lights out.”
In a similar vein, the image of the setting sun behind the title caption is rather touching in an ‘end of an era’ kind of way. And what an era it’s been.
“What’s it all about, Gene?” – No major problems here, except that I don’t understand why, when Gene makes a phonecall to Sorenson and pretends to be an assassin who has killed Gene, he feels it necessary to also be disguised as that assassin. While on the phone. Obviously it clues the audience in to his plan, but that’s about all…
Oh, and Gene only finds out who the baddies are when one of them (Roberts, AKA Genial Harry Grout) meets Krista in order to warn her off…something. She then picks him out from some police photos, and the whole gang is identified immediately. What dummies they be.
“It’s all rather difficult.” – No it isn’t, not this week. No technical problems that I could see…
The Defining Moment – After learning about the plot to kill him Gene decides that he’d better get his hair cut, because it simply wouldn’t do for him to die with untidy hair. Alas the baddies have taken over his favourite hairdressers and are planning to give him a short back-and-sides…with a bullet.
Gene pulls a constipated face and wheels round in his chair, knocking his assailant to the ground. Before the man can get up again Gene ambles over and sticks his arse in the camera so we can’t actually see what’s going on. Some thumping and smacking follows, and the thug is out for the count.
That was a close one, Gene. Still, our hero isn’t too fussed; he even apparently let the baddy go because he’s out causing trouble again just a few scenes later…
Ramblings – The guard dog at the airfield is quite clearly not a guard dog. It’s wagging its tail and it wants to get at whatever tasty treat its handler is holding. Bless.
Gavin’s newspaper gives us a date for this episode; November 29th, 1972. We also learn that Gene and Sorenson’s newspaper of choice is the ‘Evening News’.
The DVD episode guide booklet mentions something about a ‘bomb in the shape of a parcel’ being one of the ways in which the baddies attempt to do away with Gene, which apparently didn’t make it to the screen.
And now, for lack of anything better to do, a brief tribute to legendary extra chappy Mike Stevens. If you’re not interested, then scroll down to the bottom for more silly piccies. Anyway, I promised way back in the guide for episode 2 that he’d pop up again, and here he is as the mechanic who discovers the sabotage carried out on Gene’s plane by persons unknown.
Spotting this guy in other things has become something of a hobby for me, and I don’t really know why. I’ve just always found the exploits of background characters and extras to be quite interesting, though, so…yeah. My life is better than it sounds, really.
Anyway (ready or not, here we go), one of the earliest appearances of his in an ITC production comes in The Baron episode Portrait of Louisa, where we briefly see him shaking his stuff at a disco. Note the look of vague concern that was soon to become his trademark.
From here, superstardom beckoned. The Saint episode The Angel’s Eye sees him as a concerned tour party member, and here we see the exact moment he’s told by the lovely Jane Merrow that the Angel’s Eye diamond is 125-carat sterling.
Let’s put that in context for you by examining the reactions of the people around him. There’s a young lady on the left who seems to be thinking “Hmm, that’s interesting” and an older lady in the middle who isn’t terribly impressed, and over on the right Mike’s reaction is nothing less than “JESUS CHRIST WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!”
You can’t keep a talent like this down, folks. Note that the ladies are quite drawn to his pointy hair, too.
It was daring of Mike to change his performance style from ‘concerned’ to ‘angry’, but here he is as an angry villager in an episode of Man in a Suitcase.
After branching out into ‘concerned disinterest’ for The Champions,
it was back to concerned again for the first episode of Department S. Here we see him as a member of an airline crew, behind Cap’n Bernard Horsfall, devastated after having just learnt that he’s lost six days of his life.
Later on he got koshed on the head (resulting in the most dramatic entrance of his entire career) and also had to report the theft of his watch too. Clearly, he wasn’t having a good day.
Sir Anthony Hopkins later admitted that he was greatly inspired (and somewhat awed) by Mike during this scene they shared in the episode A Small War of Nerves.
In this piccy from UFO we see Mike pressing a button. Note the concerned precision with which he does so.
This won him the coveted role of ‘Charles the Chauffeur’ in a later episode of that series, where a deleted scene apparently had Charles peeling an orange while looking concerned, so Mike was obviously still interested in increasing his range at this point. This time, we got a smile and concern.
Of course, it wasn’t just the ITC series that allowed Mike Stevens to show off his trademark ‘look of concern’. Here he is in The Avengers as a thug guarding that dastardly cad John Steed. He’s playing a nice thug, though, sharing his lunch with Steed and everything (thus allowing Steed to kosh him and escape, of course).
In a later episode Mike took Steed’s place during a fight scene, so clearly there was no bad blood between these two.
When Ernst Stavro Blofeld is holding the world to nuclear ransom with his diamond-powered laser satellite of death you’ve got every right to look concerned, as indeed Mr Stevens does in Diamonds are Forever.
Here we see the only meeting between Mr Bond and Mr Concerned, on the big screen. So close, you can feel his concern…
Other big screen roles included a waiter in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, and here’s Mike manning the guns on the Millennium Falcon during a deleted scene from Return of the Jedi. (I can only assume it was deleted cos Mike got carried away and defeated the Empire all by himself). You can still briefly see him in the final film, and just like everybody in the Star Wars universe his character has a backstory longer than the Old Testament.
He also seems to have been in a few Carry Ons. I don’t know how I know that, but I do. He even received a medal for services to concernedness, which he proudly wore while playing an American soldier in Dad’s Army.
Of course, such a giant of the small and silver screen must surely have played some part in the travels of that eccentric time-travelling personage known as Doctor Who, no? Yes indeedy, mostly during Jon Pertwee’s run and mostly as random UNIT soldiers.
Hell yeah. In The Mind of Evil he even manages to play a inmate at Stangmoor Prison and a UNIT soldier attacking said prison during the same episode.
He may have cleverly switched sides, of course. With Mike Stevens you can never be too sure.
Concerned Peladonian. Concerned Stangmoor Prisoner. Concerned UNIT Soldier. Concerned Auton. Wherever a scene needed to convey a bit more moodiness than it could with just Pertwee rubbing his neck, Mike Stevens would be there. Probably.
Eeek! It’s the Master!
Only fooling. It’s Mike Stevens really, getting the last word in in The Sea Devils. And is it just me, or whenever Delgado’s Master made someone else wear a mask of his face…it looked more like Anthony Ainley? Odd that.
For me, however, the highlight of his career was his work in the first series of Space:1999. In almost every episode he can be seen lurking the background, and what with all the terrible shenanigans that the runaway moon faced as it travelled across the universe a look of sincere concern was a must-have. After one one-word line in the third episode he never looked back, and could often be seen lurking just behind Martin Landau during times of extreme crisis. Here we see him learning that a monstrous heat-sucking vampire is on the loose.
And here we see him watching somebody exploding.
Here he is on his only trip to an alien planet, where he felt it necessary to take his shirt off. Ooh. Note Catherine Schell, and Barry Morse lurking in the background, so all this does still vaguely tie in with The Gene Barry Happy Funtime Variety Show as outlined above.
And here he is hugging that silly Tarrant lass from Death to the Daleks. Yeah, she was a 1999 extra too. As was Bill ‘Axos‘ Filer. I suppose there’s some comment to be made about Doctor Who only having the budget to hire 1999‘s extras to fill main guest roles, but that would be a little unfair. And completely wrong, too.
His BAFTA moment came in episode three, where Barbara Bain gets taken over by a giant glowing space eyeball thingy that whispers a lot and gives her the power to walk through walls. The usual, y’know. Anyway she walks through a wall straight in front of Mike Stevens’ character (and after the evidence presented here I trust you are as impressed with his thespic talents as I) and he’s understandably slightly concerned by this unexpected turned of events.
Look at that. He’s being concerned with both barrels there. You don’t get such a niche performer these days. You just…don’t. I like to think there are elderly casting directors out there flicking through Spotlight searching in vain for an actor who can ‘do concerned’ and muttering to themselves “Back in my day we didn’t need to look very far for an actor who could do this. We had Mike Stevens.” And it’s a fair point, really – just where are the Mike Stevens’s of the 21st Century?
I think what I’m trying to say here is ‘Mike Stevens for teh win’. Except I don’t know what that actually means. Anyway, Mike Stevens. Woo.
Rating – 3/5. Well…it’s a nice idea, really, that Gene’s finally annoyed everyone enough that they want to have him killed – but like most Adventurer tales it doesn’t really hold together, particularly towards the end. Maybe if it were a little longer things might be different, because as it is Gene barely learns that people are trying to kill him before it’s time to wrap the whole thing up. In fact this is probably the only episode I think needed to be longer…
Other than the Genie-less episodes, natch.