Episode 2: Return to Sender
"You heard me, Parminter - there's a very dead young lady in my bathroom."
Gene arrives in France for a holiday, but when he arrives, he finds a dead girl in his hotel room and two agents for 'the other side' waiting for him. They want an important microdot that the dead girl hid beneath the stamp of a letter that she sent to Gene...
'Gene Barry with Garrick Hagon and Barry Morse'. The Morse credit shows Parminter watching Gene's helicopter taking off.
Fleming (Patrick Mower), Gorman (Donald Burton), Valerie Green (Sharon Gurney), Michele (Pamela Salem), Mr Pinter (Brian Hewitt-Jones), Hotel Clerk (Franco Derosa), Debbie (Debbie Russ).
Uncredited - Mike Stevens as Concerned Policeman. It also isn't clear who 'Mr Pinter' is - he's either Debbie's father or the guy whose car Gene steals. Whichever one he is, then the other one isn't credited.
We're somewhere on the French Riviera this time, and I don't know where. It's rather pretty, wherever it is.
No briefing as such, as Gene fancies a holiday rather than take on an assignment. Despite this, we still get an utterly meaningless shot of Valerie intercut with their argument. She's wearing a bikini, but it still means completely nothing when we don't know who she is...
Gene is off on holiday on the French Riviera at the start of the episode, but is mobbed by fans when a little girl/plot device, Debbie, suddenly realises who is and starts shouting about it. Before that, however, nobody actually recognised him.
Gorman turns on a television set in Bradley's hotel room, and as luck would have it one of his old movies is playing on it. This is the only time we actually get to see footage from any of his films, and it features Gene beating up some guys in a warehouse that has about a billion cardboard boxes in it. In addition, it has an OTT 'danger' soundtrack that you'd expect to find on an old silent film...
Parminter seems a little sneaky in this one. Although he doesn't outright trick Gene into getting involved, he doesn't seem at all surprised that he eventually does.
Michele is one of his agents, and he seems a little sad that she gets killed. Gene finds a note in her pocket - "Come home soon darling, Happy Birthday, Daddy." - which is apparently from Parminter, and although I doubt she was his daughter the exact nature of their relationship is not made clear. Obviously he was in contact with her at some point to let her know where Gene would be staying.
No Diane this time. Sorry.
We first see Gavin at the start of this episode, as he and Michele escape from the baddies with the microdot, before eventually realising that the baddies are giving chase in their car. Gavin puts up a pretty poor show of it, actually, as neither car is going all that fast and despite that he still manages to crash into some wooden warehouse doors with such force that he bangs his head on the steering wheel. He tells Michele to take the vitally important suitcase that they're carrying, which contains details on new Middle-Eastern missile sites, and make a run for it, while he, um...just lies there. We last see him being taken out of his car by some villagers, and the baddies, perhaps knowing that he's one of the series main characters, just let him go.
Oh, and he seems to have an English accent this episode as opposed to his later American one.
Although he doesn't shake his bum on the dance floor this episode, Gene does model various ill-chosen fashions, including the first appearance of his trusty Paddington Bear duffelcoat and a pair of Elton John's sunglasses.
Alright! Our first big fight scene, with lots of fists not connecting with their intended targets, people falling over for no reason, and Gene actually attacking somebody with a handful of grass. He also waves his arms around like a maniac and pulls a lot of funny faces before the baddies are able to subdue him. Which they do by hitting him on the back with a chair, and rather than breaking, the chair just bounces off him...meanwhile, Valerie puts up a reasonably good fight.
The best bit? 'Gene' leaps up onto a curtain rail, which immediately snaps under his weight, and he lands on his backside. The curtains then land on top of him, and the "Oh!" face he makes is priceless.
His old film shows very little in the way of dodgy fighting tactics as we don't see it for long enough, although he does end up dangling a baddie over a first-floor railing before dropping them an astonishing 3cm onto the cardboard boxes below.
Not to be outdone, Gene has another crack at the baddies later on when he arrives on their yacht, attacking Gorman with - what else? - a curtain rail and then, when that fails to keep him down, punching him in the balls. That still doesn't knock out poor Gorman, and after a brief fistfight, Gene waves his smelly foot in the vague direction of Gorman and the guy falls overboard.
Gene then very quickly deals with Fleming, by getting behind him and jabbing him in the spine with his elbow. Nasty. Six slap-punches later, and Fleming follows Gorman into the water.
Valerie Green appears to know Gene, and while it's vaguely hinted at that she might have worked on one of his films, it isn't explained how or where they met.
Oh yes. When it comes to shifty-looking Seventies guys, Patrick Mower is one of the best, and Gorman just screams Seventies too. They also have their very own yacht, too.
GENE - "There's only one thing that interests me, Parminter. That's something you wouldn't know about."
What is it, then? Wrinkle cream? Duffelcoats?
GORMAN - "I feel like yesterday's coffee - a bit weak in the bean!"
Um...yeah. So now you know - Gorman has weak beans.
Ooh, yes, this is a corker. Gene drives off on holiday, and Parminter looks vaguely sneaky. The last line we actually hear is a rather camp "Ta-ta." from Gene...
GENE - "I'm glad you've chosen to see things my way."
GORMAN - "On the screen, he's a tiger."
FLEMING - "Oh, it's all fixed. They have stuntmen to do the fights for them."
Not many problems in this one, although the baddies' plans still aren't all that clear. We hear some vague mumblings about them being agents for 'the other side', and Mr Parminter also suggests that if Gene can't find the microdot then a combined British and American fleet will start firing off their missiles willy-nilly and then the whole world will be destroyed. Which, obviously, would be a bit of a setback.
Oh, and I wouldn't have minded finding out what happened to Gavin.
The helicopter pilot is badly dubbed, apparently by Cyril Shaps, and the guy whose car Gene steals sounds like he's been dubbed by Jeremy Wilkin.
I also wouldn't mind betting that the curtain rail wasn't supposed to break during the fight scene...
It's got to be the hotel room fight scene. All of Gene's various 'tactics' are on display, and for once none of them actually work. The goofy music from the film adds to the madness of the whole thing, and there's a certain amount of satisfaction to be had in watching the old fool get the crap kicked out of him.
The semi-recap we get after the adbreak is confusing and pretty unnecessary.
Gene is utterly creepy in any scene he has with Debbie. I mean, if you were driving along on holiday, a helicopter suddenly landed on the road in front of you and out jumped an actor who desperately wants to give you a signed photo of himself...you would just hit the accelerator flat-out, wouldn't you?
A brief shot of Gene's driving down to the harbour is reused from The Good Book.
The very annoyed-looking policeman who arrives at the docks at the end of the episode is also worthy of mention. He's scary...
The other policeman seens to be played by legendary ITC extra Mike Stevens, or as I prefer to call him 'Mr Concerned'. He'd always crop up in discos and bars and wherever, always looking deeply concerned about something. He's perhaps most prominently seen in Main Mission throughout the first series of Space:1999, but I wouldn't be surprised if he crops up in The Adventurer a few more times...
The end credits feature the first use of an alternative arrangement of the theme music. It's ten seconds shorter than the regular version, and is used sporadically in later episodes if they have either a short cast or if they're running a little over 25 minutes (as in the case of this episode). It's very catchy too.
This would have been a much better episode to have been shown as the first one. The story makes sense and doesn't leave you with the feeling that you need to do some sort of background reading or research in order to understand it, and there's a sense of vague tension as well. Add in the rather nice location, and you actually end up what is actually a (dare I say it?) pretty good episode.
"What the devil are you talking about, Parminter? What makes you think I'm hiding a Peruvian refugee in my house?"
"You mean...they all want your autograph? They all fancy you? Thank God I'm about to die, I don't think I can take much more..."
"Patrick! Patrick! Don't let him hit me, Patrick! Think of my face! My beautiful face!"
"Do you recognise this man? About 50 pounds ago, I used to be him. Incredible, isn't it?"
"Ah, hello...is that Mr Grade? Ah, yes, hello...I was just wondering if there was any chance of me getting out of my contract...no? Oh, fiddle..."