Episode 4: Thrust and Counter-Thrust
"Would you believe I thought the sky was gonna fall down, I wanted to get everyone out safe...?"
Anton Jurzyck is...um...a person, yes. And he's been kidnapped. He's been held in some house in some country by some people. And apparently he's going to be 'liquidated' at some point. Very nasty. Cue yet another screwed-up rescue plan courtesy of Mr Gene Bradley and friends...
'Gene Barry with Catherine Schell, Garrick Hagon, and Barry Morse as Mr Parminter'. The shot of Parminter is, again, him watching Gene's helicopter taking off.
Clifford Evans (Baron Drovotkin), Eunice Gayson (Countess Marie), Simon Lack (Colonel Andreyev), Wensley Pither (Nicholas), Stephen Sheppard (Stephen), Stanley Lebor (Michael the Guard), David Lawton (Anton Jurzyck).
Apparently we're at the Moravian Embassy in Nice, but nobody ever says that, so we could be anywhere...
The mission briefing is again in a taxi that takes Gene and Parminter from Marie's home to a hotel room where they meet Diane and Gavin. Along the way, we're given random shots of a heavily-bandaged Jurzyck, and of Colonel Andreyev lifting up a piece of paper and scowling at it, perhaps honing his Gene Barry impression.
When we first see him, Gene is fencing with Marie. It could actually be Gene Barry, as he looks about the right size and he's fighting in the same style as he normally would. Yes, fencing is another of the Amazing Gene's limitless talents.
Gene mentions having known Parminter for at least a few years, and that he's also met Colonel Andreyev once.
We hear about one of Gene's films - The Man Who Could See Through Everybody - in which Gene starred as a man with x-ray vision. The way in which this information is imparted to us is anything less than subtle. In fact, I would go so far as to say it was 'not subtle'.
Gene sings One of Those Wonderful Songs to a load of old ladies. Moving on...
No, actually, I can't move on. I can't forget it. I can't forget his monotonous droning...And neither will you...download it here, and listen to his desperate gasps for breath at the start of every line...still can't believe he didn't make it into the charts with this.
Gene is also able to pick the lock to Jurzyck's room. I don't know how because apparently the audience aren't seen as being important enough to actually be told how this gets done...
Parminter poses as Gene's producer, before briefing everyone and then clearing off. He's later seen in a van parked near the embassy waiting for reports from Gavin.
"No problem - but won't the Countess resent the competition?"
Diane poses as Gene's 'very impersonal personal secretary', which means that she just stands around at the party talking to people. Later, she uses her feminine wiles to charm Howard from Ever Decreasing Circles into giving her lots of pillows and blankets, thus distracting him while Gene and Gavin rescue Jurzyck.
"Hired for the occasion."
Gavin is integral to Gene's whole plan. He takes on the persona of big-haired hippy 'Wild Man Jones' and plays the piano at the embassy party. Now, this is the clever part - the plan is that the tunes Gavin plays are actually Morse code signals to Jurzyck to tell him to be ready for rescue. Yes. Isn't that clever? It is.
Later, when he and Gene have got Jurzyck out his room, Gavin makes him up to look like Wild Man Jones, so that Gene and Diane can drag him off to safety, pretending that it's actually Gavin with a hangover. Despite watching them leave and falling for their trick, Countess Marie is then utterly unconcerned when the real Gavin, still for some reason dressed as Wild Man, then leaves a few moments later.
Gene doesn't get himself into a fight this time round, and although he's wearing a different outfit in every scene, none of them are particularly noteworthy. Obviously they're all bad, but not especially bad.
I guess all that's left to point out is his 'dancing', which is basically just bouncing up and down on the spot whilst trying not to fall over. Not much bum-wiggling here, but there is a little, for those who like that sort of thing...
Marie seems to be an old friend of Gene's, though there's no definite explanation given. We're told that Gene managed to 'wangle' himself an invitation to spend a nice quiet weekend with her. Throughout the episode, they're fairly kissy-kissy and it's all rather nauseating to watch.
More vague foreigners from 'the other side'. Ooh, and their top-secret base appears to be a farm. Yes. Other than that...no idea...ooh, except that they can expertly kidnap one of their own agents. Mmm.
The episode guide booklet claims that they're agents for Moravian Intelligence, and that Jurzyck is one of their operatives, who has defected. But there's no way you could learn that from the episode itself.
MARIE - "And how is my riposte?"
GENE - "Oh, you have the cutest little riposte that I have ever seen."
Bleurgh. Fortunately Parminter interrupts them...
GENE - "May I introduce the Countess Gravinski?"
PARMINTER - "Ah, of course. The niece of the Maravian Consul-General."
Parminter, please don't exposite all over the young lady. It's not nice.
GENE - "I should have said 'no' to this job."
PARMINTER - "Really? Why?"
GENE - "Years ago you told me that there were only three people in this whole world who knew that I was once 'the actor' - the President, the Prime Minister, and you. Now how'd you get to know?"
PARMINTER - "Well I -"
GENE - "Don't answer that."
...I have no idea what they're talking about. Not a sodding clue. It sounds vaguely like an attempt at some sort of backstory, but...look at it! It doesn't make any sense at all. Argh.
It's a dialogue-free cliffhanger opening, with Jurzyck being forced off the road and crashing into a tree. And you actually get to see him crash into it, too. Of course, when you don't know who he is and who the other people are and where they are and things like that it's a little difficult to actually give a damn...
Not so much a line as a choice of song - One of Those Wonderful Songs sounds anything but wonderful when it's Gene Barry singing it...although Gavin describing Gene as a 'poor ham' could also qualify here...
Morse code in the piano music? What?? And how the heck is it possible that Jurzyck, locked upstairs away from the party, heavily drugged and with his entire head bandaged up, can hear this message and decode it while a load of military types standing right there at the party don't work it out until later?
When Parminter goes to kiss Marie's hand near the start of the episode, he doesn't actually manage it, instead just gently brushing it with his moustache. Yes, I know, I'm reaching here...
The sight of Gene Barry 'singing'. Word utterly fail me. This was cut from the repeat run on ITV4, so it came as a horrible surprise to me on DVD...
Thank God for the ITC Episode Guide booklet that was included with the DVDs. I only now understand the story because of that, and I suspect that it'll come in very useful throughout the rest of this guide...
This episode closes with the alternative version of the theme tune.
Um...no, again, it's another two-star episode. I'm convinced that the early episodes were devised around "What nice country can we go to and film some stuff in?" rather than "Let's write a proper story.". Again the audience is left with bugger all idea as to what the hell is going on with anything and it's getting annoying...
"You know, I think this would look better on me than on you."
"Yes, I know one day I'll be doing some classy sitcom, but for now, I'm stuck here doing this crap. Anyway, you wanted a blanket..."
"Dig me!" While Gene Barry takes his basks in his grooviness...
...Catherine Schell makes a signal to the assassin she's hired to deal with him...
"My only hope to escape this episode is that this wardrobe leads to Narnia..."
"I don't know who you are or why you're here, but I salute you!"