Episode 1: The Good Book
"How many times must I tell you, Armand, that the codebook you have is a fake?"
Shady businessman Armand has a codebook. It's a very nice codebook, full of pretty pictures and codes and things, but one of his top agents, Nita, is convinced that the codebook is a fake. Mr Parminter, for reasons best known to himself, decides to capitalise on this confusion by sending Gene to Cannes to act like a git.
You with me so far? At the same time, an old flame of Gene's, Nita, is trying desperately to prove to Armand that the codebook is a fake, and Diane is ordered to discredit her. No idea what the codebook contains or why everyone wants it so badly, but there you are...
'Gene Barry with Catherine Schell, Garrick Hagon and Barry Morse as Mr Parminter.' The shot of Parminter is of him walking through Tralfalgar Square before stopping outside his office and smiling at somebody.
Adrienne Corri (Nita), John Moffat (Armand), Gabrielle Drake (Marian), Ben Kingsley (Pierre), Perry Sobolsky (Gigilo)
The film appears to be shooting in Rome. Once Gene arrives in Cannes, we get to see him wander around the airport before hiring a flashy red car.
Parminter orders Gene to Cannes and tells him that Diane is already there. After we jump over to Cannes to see Nita telling Armand that she thinks the codebook is a fake, we go back over to wherever the heck Parminter is briefing Gene (it looks like somebody's back garden) as Parminter hands over the genuine codebook.
At the start of the episode, Gene is shooting a movie in some place that we're not told where it is, and said movie apparently ends with Gene's character getting riddled with bullets. Ever the professional, Big Gene hams it for his character's dying moments, if only so he can bugger off quicker to go skiing.
Gene is a Leo. Maybe.
For some reason, Parminter sees fit to arrive on the film set in the pre-credits sequence dressed as a Mexican bandito.
He also somehow manages to arrive in Cannes before Gene. This is never explained.
"Oh yes, she's there already. And she's become very close to Nita."
Diane is quite sneaky in this episode, gaining Nita's trust so that she and Gene can carry out their stupid plan. It is she who suggests that Armand throw Gene a birthday party so that she can sneak downstairs and go looking for the fake codebook.
When she needs to swing over a security system that may or may not be installed in the floor of the vault where Armand is keeping his codebook, Diane demonstrates the remarkable talent of being able to turn into a man in drag to do it. Well, it's either a man or a woman with very beefy arms...
She is also able to crack the combination to the vault's safe and use a hairpin to esape from the cell she gets thrown into when she's captured.
Although Garrick Hagon is credited on the opening titles, I can't for the life of me actually see Gavin in the episode. Instead, we have Stuart Damon as Vince, whose role in this episode is minimal, to say the least. He brings an odd-looking car to Armand's chateau and is driving Diane and Nita to the airport when a horse and cart pulls out in front of him, causing him to slow down and allowing Nita her chance to escape. He only gets one line ("Nita got away in the village.") and so he's reduced to acting via tapping a steering wheel, looking at his watch and rolling his eyes for all he's worth. Needless to say, this is more acting than Gene Barry manages to do throughout the entire series.
And yet the poor bastard doesn't even make it onto the end credits either...
The snazzy jacket Gene wears when Parminter is briefing him is surely worth a mention.
At the birthday party Armand throws for Gene, we get to see many extras strutting their stuff to some 70s music. Adrienne Corri looks rather into it all, while Catherine Schell just looks embarassed. Nevertheless, they are both danced off-screen by Gene Barry, whose dance moves all seem to be based on shaking his bottom.
Nita is one of Gene's many past conquests, with him saying that the last time they met was at the Tokyo Olympics, while she insists it was in Limone. I don't know why, I guess it's part of the whole 'discredit Nita' thing but it's a fairly roundabout way of doing it...still, somehow it works.
Armand is a fairly pathetic Adventurer villain, although he does have a lot of money - enough for a yacht and a big house with a vault and even a prison cell.
NITA - "I'm warning you, Armand. Your position is as precarious as that vase."
At which point Armand looks at the vase he's holding and tries to work out what the hell Nita is on about...
DIANE - "I know all about you!"
GENE - "You do?
DIANE - "You're a Leo."
GENE - "You're wrong. I'm a Gene."
Ah ha ha. Stop with the wit already...
MARION - "The last time I was in a library, this little boy, he took me behind the bookshelves and, er...made love to me."
Marion, sweetie...nobody can get so desperate that they want to make love to Gene Bradley. Not even you.
PARMINTER: "Armand's capable of anything. Even murder. And Nita has worse."
Nope. No idea what he's on about...
PARMINTER: "Yes, very good. Very exciting..."
Oh dear oh dear...I'm going to regret this section, I just know it. OK, the main problem is that we're given no idea what's at stake here. It's never explained why Nita needs to be discredited. There's just too much going on and none of it makes any sense. Who are Armand and Nita, what is the importance of the codebook and why exactly do Gene and Diane come up with such a convoluted plan? I've seen this episode about five times now and I still don't know what's going on...
We see Armand and Nita arguing just before the credits. The next time we see them, which in story terms is at least a few days later, they're both in exactly the same position being shot from the same angle. And she's still going on about that bloody vase...Come on Mr Director, couldn't you at least try a little?
Armand is very badly dubbed by another actor, and so is Gabrielle Drake when she says "Hello." to Gene.
Also worthy of mention is the shot of Armand and Pierre getting into their car near the end of the episode, which makes it look like they're in a jungle...
It has to be Nita escaping in the village, as I don't think I've ever seen a collection of shots that fit together less than this 'chase' sequence does.
Um...no, sorry, I've not got much to say here. Ooh, except that the music that's playing when the episode title pops up is rather cheery and nice.
Oh, and when Diane is driving Gene to his party, he gets out the codebook, flicks through it, and then shows it to her. And she looks at it for a good few seconds. The back-projection makes it look like they're going very fast, so surely this isn't the wisest thing to do when driving...
It's a not very good start to a not very good series. I still don't think I understand the whole story, and for the first episode of a series that's a bit of a problem. Most of the other episodes, while bad, weren't nearly as headache-inducing as this one.
Mr Parminter - Mexican bandito
Parminter and Gene have a moment's silence for the passing of Gene's dress sense
"No no, Nita, clench your fists and shake your bottom more..."
"Dammit! Nothing on except The Adventurer! And I hate The Adventurer!"
"Look! No hands! Oh, I'm so bored..."