Thursday, 24 April 2014

Pr1.7

TEN THINGS I NOTICED ABOUT...


SYNOPSIS:
Foreign agents engineer an affair between a politician 
and a young girl in order to blackmail him.



001: Guest star Anthony Steel is at the centre of the story, playing a well-respected politician who may become Prime Minister one day. Luckily for the enemies of the UK, he's a puffed up fool who readily believes that a young girl forty years his junior would find him irresistible. What's her motivation for getting involved? Drugs. Drugs supplied by a pimp who is working for the KGB. Jesus Christ. 

Anthony Steel was a standard heroic British type starring in home-grown war films until he was lured to Hollywood, where he pretty much went mental, getting into fights, drunk driving and marrying Swedish boob bomb Anita Ekberg - for a few months at least. After one forgettable film he slunk back to England and tried to get himself back together - but never really did. His later performances seemingly carry the stigma of that very public failure - yes, he's well-groomed and he looks the part, but you know he's going to balls it up somehow. He's perfectly cast here as a Tory love twat: you almost feel sorry for him. Almost. 






002: It's worth mentioning that this episode is remarkably sleazy, revolving as it does around sex, drugs, murder and mother and daughter prostitution. There's also an awful lot of flesh on show, and some of the younger bits of it are mauled by a variety of old, gnarled, grasping hands. It's all pretty distasteful, which is great for the drama as you very much want Bodie and Doyle to kill the dirty, amoral bastards behind it all. And kill them they do. Well. most of 'em, anyway.



003: This is Walter Gotell, a very familiar face who had a long career playing Nazis and Russians. He was in six James Bond films (five as the same character, General Gogol) and had the misfortune to be married to Joan Collins in 'The Stud'. A cultured, elegant actor, he was nevertheless always extremely sinister - here, though, he's positively repulsive. "Please, Sam" says the young hooker, desperate for a fix, "Uncle Sam" he purrs, pawing most un-avuncularly at her breasts.     





004: We first see our heroes at Doyle's flat in the early hours of the morning. They're pissed up and dressed in evening wear, having just been at a works do. They have dates, of course, and Bodie's lady is literally hanging off him. People get a bit predatory after a skinful, don't they? Mind you, I don't blame her, he looks dazzling in his frilly shirt, like a Jon Pertwee Doctor Who figure with an Action Man head. 

A curious detail is that Doyle appears to have a framed photograph of Cowley on his mantelpiece - and it's one of Cowley smiling. Is that what Cowley gives his agents for Christmas, do you think? Or does Doyle just really, really like his job? Perhaps it came with the frame, although that would be a pretty disastrous breach of national security.   


005: ‘Hookers are women, you know – they can be nice’. So says Doyle at the beginning of the episode, the last liberal thing he will say for forty five minutes. He’s talking about Ann Seaford (Pamela Salem), who is nice, and a woman, and a hooker. When Anne finds out that her teenage daughter (who was taken from her as a baby and adopted) is now on drugs and on the game, she contacts Doyle for help. Unfortunately for Anne, her daughter is a pawn in a much bigger game, so Anne is drowned in the Thames before she can make too much of a fuss. 




Her killers make it look like suicide, but Doyle isn’t fooled by that, although his keen sense of perception doesn’t seem to have twigged that her dead hair keeps changing colour, length and style. 




006: In any event, Doyle drags the faithful Bodie into a freelance job, i.e. ‘it’s our day off, let’s investigate a murder’ – and bullishly goes about smashing windows and breaking into places while Bodie looks on and pulls faces. When they discover a scrap of paper with the Prime Minister’s private number on it, it becomes an official CI5 job but, as Doyle is keen to tell Cowley: ‘This is personal’. Cowley’s angry response puts the curly headed one firmly back in his Tupperware container: 

"Nothing is personal, Doyle. When you joined CI5 
I made that perfectly clear. The department owns you - 
I own you. I can sell your body to science if I want... 
while it's still alive!" 

I had quite a similar discussion at my last work appraisal. My manager did actually try and sell my body to science, but science declined the transaction. 



007: Their first lead is a witness who saw a big car with a black man at the wheel. Doyle of the Yard uses his Police training to connect the dots. 

Doyle: 
"Look, a big, flash car driven by a black guy. 
Add 'em together and what have you got?" 
Bodie: 
"A black guy driving a flash car?" 
Doyle: 
"It adds up to a high-class pimp 
for a high-class hooker!" 

Actually, in this case it does, but that’s hardly the point, although it’s good to see Bodie putting forward a less ‘Daily Mail’ suggestion. Another thing – I get the notion of a high-class hooker, but a high-class pimp? Could there ever be such a paradoxical creature? 




008: In a scene reminiscent of Doyle’s visit to the Caribbean Social Club, he visits a seedy dive to question a prostitute and almost immediately starts a fight. This time, however, Bodie is around to sort things out, which he does brilliantly, and literally single handedly, as he has a pint of bitter in his other mitt. This episode also appears to be the debut of the leather jacket which I always associate him with. Hello, leather jacket, it’s good to meet you. Doyle is far from heroic in this scene, by the way, instead concentrating on getting information from a young woman by threatening and squeezing her face really hard. So much for the ‘hookers are nice’ bit. 





009: This robust looking gentleman is Patrick Durkin. Despite resembling Eddie Large, Patrick found steady work as a heavy in a number of film and television productions, not least ‘Raiders Of The Lost Ark’ in which he played a nasty Sherpa working for the Nazis. Here he plays a nasty Russian, working for the Russians. He’s also dubbed. He looks a bit like Leonid Brezhnev with a perm which, as we all know, is exactly what KGB agents used to look like until Putin upped the ante by being so buff. 

Doyle is wounded in the leg in a gun fight with this chubby apparatchik, but manages to shoot him in the chest. An enraged Bodie pumps a few more into him, so it’s spokojnoj nochi for this particular Soviet, who ends up dead on a pile of rubbish. Good riddance to him, and the rubbish, and the communist Russian bullet in Doyle’s leg which, unlike Cowley’s fascist Spanish bullet, went straight through. 



010: In the end, Bodie and Doyle walk (and hobble off) into the sunset after paying their respects at Anne's grave. Doyle is obviously pretty upset, so Bodie tells him being on crutches will be a big plus with the birds, especially if he tells them he injured his leg doing something really dangerous. That seems to do the trick, as Doyle will never mention Anne again. 

Monday, 21 April 2014

Shelf Life Stuff



Breaking in on this bullet and balls-fest for a moment, I would very much like to draw your attention to Shelf Life Stuff, the new blog from my friend and Mounds & Circles' colleague, Andrew D, aka Glimmung.

Andrew is a fascinating, funny, intelligent and expert bloke and, not surprisingly, this project has all these qualities - and pictures. It's good stuff, this Shelf Life Stuff.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Pr1.6

TEN THINGS I NOTICED ABOUT...


SYNOPSIS:
An embittered chemist threatens to poison London's water supply unless 
the government destroy all their biological weapons. 

001: 'Private Madness, Public Danger' was actually the first ever episode of 'The Professionals' to be broadcast, on 30th December 1977. Perverse as ever, I'm sticking to production order, mainly because this whole damn thing was prompted by the DVD release of the first series, and that's how they are presented there. This particular episode seems an odd one to open with, though - it is more or less entirely self-contained, and has none of the scene setting of 'Old Dog, New Tricks' - although it does have Cowley's explanatory monologue over the opening credits. It's also rather slow and, if I'm being perfectly honest, a bit of a drag. But nine and a half million people watched it on transmission, so what do I know?   


002: Keith Barron. Keith's long career has always slightly baffled me. I have nothing against the fellow but, essentially, he just wanders around being dour with a face like a Cornish pasty - and has done for almost fifty years. He's so non-committal that he can suck the energy out of a drama quicker than Bodie can pull a Nurse - sometimes the other actors in a scene seem unsure if he will even answer them so carry on as if he isn't there. When he does shake off his torpor to become even slightly animated his voice becomes wheedling and whiny and really annoying. As I say, I have nothing against him. 




Here, he plays a psycho chemist, a 'nutty activist' who will happily kill and freak out thousands to make his point. There are two indicators for just how bonkers he is: the first is that he is often lost in thought (hardly anyone in this programme ever STOPS to think) and, secondly, the camera keeps zooming in on his blank, dead eyes. That said, he had the same blank, dead eyes in 'Duty Free' and that was supposed to be a comedy.



Barron's character has a contact who is helping him in return for Heroin, by the way, and the pre-credits sequence features her tying off with a belt while Barron sterilises her needle over a lighter flame. It all looks slightly staged now, but the message is clear: this is adult stuff, an adult world - and things are going to get ridiculous, sorry, nasty. 


003: Pipette. Pipette is one of the loveliest words in the English language, up there with 'plinth' and 'gossamer' and 'felicitous'. And pipettes are are marvellous looking, too, so simple yet so tactile, a design classic. Beautiful things all 'round pipettes, even when they are filled with drugs and used to contaminate a coffee machine with bad dreams and death.  





004: Barron is going to contaminate a reservoir with a drug called 'ADX' which makes people who take it hallucinate, so the fish eye lens comes out and casting calls on a number of big nosed actors to take part in the trippy, convex fun. 


This gentleman has had a coffee (black, no sugar) and is now absolutely ripped to the tits. Typically, he decides that 'the sky is very big' and cheerfully jumps out of a window to his death. Taking drugs and flying is like thinking you're a tangerine and peeling all your skin off, or trying to dry a wet kitten in the microwave. Drugs clich├ęs: don't do 'em, kids.



Actually, there's a massive narcotics thing going on throughout this episode. Aside from Heroin and ADX, Barron also appears to be bonging it at one point. Bodie? He's just high on life - and testosterone. 




005: Here's Bodie and Doyle trying to assess the quality of some 'H'. I don't know why both of them needed to try it, by the way, 'procedure' maybe? Doyle confidently pronounces that the sample is 'uncut'; Bodie is going to need some orange squash to take the taste away.


006: Before CI5 identify him, Barron sends a letter to the Prime Minister with a strong ultimatum and a clear threat. Bodie rather desperately asks 'was it signed?', to which Cowley angrily responds 'NOT signed'. Then they both look really disappointed. 


007: This man is a drug dealer who knows where Barron is and what he is planning to do. He tells CI5 that they will get nothing out of him because he has already been worked over 'by the best', I.E. other criminals, whipping off his ginger toupee to show Cowley where he was 'scalped'. It's clearly male pattern baldness, however, so Cowley says 'get me a needle and some Heroin' before elaborating on his plans:

"I'm going to hoist you with your own petard, Mr Sutton. 
I'm going to turn you into an addict. A crash-course in addiction, because we have access to the purest stuff. A craving, crawling, do-anything-for-money junkie."

The bald, bullshitting bastard tells them everything before Cowley even squirts a bit out of the end of the needle as a tester (Why do people do that, anyway? Isn't that shit expensive?)

008: Bodie and Doyle get to drive a nice dark blue TR7 in this episode. Cowley, however, is reduced to getting from A to B in a red Austin Princess, a car with a body shape which makes it resembles a large slice of mobile cheese. There's a great but daft scene in which both cars roar up to Barron's hide out, spraying gravel and dust everywhere. The cars screech to a halt, and Bodie, Doyle and Cowley jump out, guns at the ready, and run up to the door. Then Cowley rings the bell.



009: I love Bodie and his many faces. I could watch them all day. Which is sort of what I am doing. RIP, Lewis, have a rest now, mate.




010: The ending is a bit hurried, mainly because we've been watching Barron mooch about looking miserable for the last forty five minutes. A young DCI Burnside turns up as a CI5 agent who is on guard at a reservoir - you can tell he's on an important mission because he's slowly getting pissed. Anyway, Barron gets shot; Bodie and Doyle get wet and cold; London gets saved - but only because Bodie and Doyle ignore Cowley's express orders - twice. At the end, he hands them a hip flask full of scotch and tells them to warm up a bit. As they cheerfully pass it around he goes all steely and Scottish and tells them he's prepared to overlook their disobedience - this time. Pretty good of him considering that, if they had listened to him, thousands of Londoners would be dead.