Episode 10: Nearly the End of the Picture
"Have I attained a proper degree of carelessness,
Gene is planning a nice night out at...um...the Duke's, but manages to get himself kidnapped. Hard luck, Gene. His captors want a lot of money otherwise they'll destroy a priceless painting (his, of course) that they've pinched from the National Gallery...
'Gene Barry and Barry Morse as Mr Parminter'. As usual, the Morse credit here has Parminter watching Gene's helicopter taking off...
Dennis Price (Brandon), Angela Scoular (Dorinda), David Buck (Martin), Fiona Lewis (Clarissa De Vere Allan), Mark Jones (Alden), Milton Johns (Alex).
So, that's two more future Doctor Who guest stars here - Mark Jones was Keeler in The Seeds of Doom, and Milton Johns was Castellan Kelner in The Invasion of Time. Maybe I should have been keeping a tally on Who guest stars...
Phillip Broadley. Yes, it's him again.
Cyril Frankel. And him again, too.
We're all over London this week, with some location filming by the Thames and (possibly) in the Post Officer Tower restauarant.
No mission, no mission briefing. Simple.
At the start of this episode, we get to see - hooray! - Gene's butler Brandon for the first time, as he helps Gene put the final touches to his suit. "Try and effect a little more carelessness, sir." he advises. "We mustn't give the impression of being made up, must we sir?" Gene's deadpan reply - "No, we mustn't." - is rather wonderful, and there's a rather nice rapport between Barry and Price here that I wish we could have seen more of. Every line Price gives is just dripping in sarcasm - he knows this is a load of rubbish and he's going to ham it up as best he can. Even when he's just standing the background pouring tea, he's doing it in such a way that you can't really stop watching him.
At the start of the episode, and at the end of the episode, Brandon is holding a glass of some alcoholic beverage or other. He even helps himself to a nice glass of bubbly after Gene leaves. This is going to be a recurring thing with him...
Gene himself, we learn, owns a Rembrandt, which he's very kindly put on permanent loan to the National Gallery.
He's seen taking a few swings with a golf club during the middle of the episode, so we can assume that's another one of his many talents.
Oh, and his newspaper of choice is The Daily Express.
Parminter gets in touch with Gene after reading in the papers about the theft of the painting, and Gene buys him lunch at the Post Office tower. They meet a few more times during the episode, mainly so that Parminter can offer suggestions and advice, by way of thanks for all the times Gene's helped him out in the past. Aww.
What about her?
Not even so much as a postcard.
Gene's a sly old fox. As Alden removes the sticky tape from over his left eye, Gene only flinches ever so slightly. Alden does the same for the right one, and Gene suddenly ducks, as the line "That hurts!" is badly dubbed onto the scene. All this, however, is just so that he can overpower Alden and grab his gun, delivering a friendly elbow jab to the poor guy's stomach.
That's true fighting, is that. Shoving and elbow jabs. T'riffic.
Once he gets back to his apartment, he immediately has a little bath before putting on a hideous dressing gown thing - red with big white circles on. Nice.
Clarissa takes Gene to the nightclub where Dorinda works, and he's right in there, shaking his groove thang and making an utter fool of himself. It's his usual boogying technique of wiggling his bum, but this week he's also waving his fists around in the air like he's having some sort of fit. Still, he seems to having fun. Bless im.
No old friend of Gene's is in this episode, although Parminter knows the father of the girl Dorinda was pretending to be, so I suppose that counts. He's able to set Gene up a meeting with the Honourable Clarissa De Vere Allan. She's a real posh type, is this Clarissa - even Gene looks like he thinks she's taking things a bit too far. "I've been frightfully excited since you telephoned!" she cries. "Won't you have a glass of lemon barley water?" Oh, rather! How spiffy! And then we can all have a jolly game of croquet, wot wot wot?
Oh, and she knows people with three surnames. And she shops at Harrods. And calls people 'Bunty'. How jolly..
And by the end of the episode, judging by all the lip and tongue action that's going on between them, Clarissa has definitely become a friend of Gene's.
A rather interesting pack of villains this week, primarily because they're the first not to be caught up in some international political situation with some country that can't be named. They're lead by Martin, he's the one who's masterminded this whole 'give us money or we'll pour acid on your painting' scheme. His girlfriend Dorinda and a chap Alex kidnap Gene at the start of the episode, and later on, there's a fellow called Alden, who follows Gene around for a bit before reporting back.
Oddly, when we first see Martin, he's wearing a dodgy eye mask. I can't work out why.
The guy who played Martin later popped up in an episode of The Protectors (another ITC series being filmed alongside The Adventurer)...and here's that character:
Now...what was it about this actor that made the ITC bods think "Yeah! Let's put him in a mask! He looks well creepy whenever we do that!"?
Or maybe not.
BRANDON: "The newspapers are full of the stolen Rembrandt story...there are also many pictures of yourself. How would we like our coffee, sir?"
BRANDON: "Oh...we have a hangover, I
suspect...should I prepare one of my special oyster-"
GENE: "Oh, go away, will you Brandon?"
I have a new favourite character and his name is Brandon. Oh yes. I'd prefer the whole series be about him, please.
PARMINTER: "I have a suggestion."
GENE: "That isn't unusual."
PARMINTER: "Go through the motions of collecting the money tomorrow. After all, they've probably got you under the microscope and if you look as though you're coming through with the money -"
GENE: "It'll help them relax."
PARMINTER: "Well...perhaps lull them into thinking you're going through with it."
GENE: "Hmm...you know what I should do?"
GENE: "I should...lull them into thinking I'd go through with it."
PARMINTER: "You know Gene, you have some awfully good ideas."
GENE: "Oh, don't be surprised. I often do, you know. And so do you."
PARMINTER: "Oh, I thought I did."
Get a room, you two. Please.
BRANDON: "Excuse me, sir - there's an Honourable Clarissa De Vere Allan who wishes to see you."
GENE: "Oh, that's great."
BRANDON: "She says it's rather important."
CLARISSA: "*Frightfully* important, I said."
"Oh, I do beg your pardon. *Frightfully* important, haw haw haw. Now, if you will excuse me, sir, I'm off to get pissed. Again."
GENE: "I have 97% faith in you."
This is something I like about this episode - Gene and Parminter seem more like friends, which is nice...
Alden pulls a gun on Gene, and the Adventurer perceptively notes "Ah...the Duke wouldn't be in on this, would he?" What might have been a fairly good opening is somewhat ruined by the fact that the opening titles seem to take an eternity to actually start...
"Let's be logical." "I don't wanna be logical."
We're not told how the baddies were able to make off with Gene's painting from the gallery - though if you look at the newspaper headline, it says the painting was stolen 'last night'...which makes their plan seem just a little bit rushed.
Dorinda spots Gene at the disco and legs it, sneaking out through the staff room. Gene then leaves by the main entrance, stopping to pay a random waiter-type person a load of money. And I can't work out why.
Anyway, Dorinda gets into a taxi, and gets taken home. She pays the taxi driver, and goes in. But - gasp! Gene is the taxi driver! Now...where in God's name did he get a taxi from? How could he possibly have made that work? He's even dressed up, too - how'd he do that?
He's brilliant, that's how.
Anyway, the baddies all head off to Gene's, and either break in or get let in by Brandon, and find the boxes of money - which in fact contain a load of paper. So then, they dash back home, and pour acid on the painting - only it's a fake, cos Gene's in there and he's replaced it. And some police have arrived.
But where'd he get the taxi? Argh...
Er..no, no technical problems that I could see. Except the previously mentioned "That hurts!"...
Well, I might have gone for the whole 'Where'd he get the taxi?' thing, except that better fitted the plot problems section above. The trouble with these middle episodes is that they've eliminated the wacky stunts that I loved from the earlier episodes, so picking a classic moment is difficult.
But I've managed it.
Gene wakes up on a barge, staggers onto the docks and begins his long walk home. He passes two gentlemen, they wave at him, and he waves back. These two guys don't wave in an "Oh my God it's Gene Bradley the famous movie star, hello!" way, it's just a very casual wave that says "Hey Gene, another hard night on the town, was it? Yeah, don't worry about kipping on our barge, again, we don't mind..."
There's a rather bizarre scene where we're shown Gene's money being taken out of the bank, put into a Securicor van, and driven to Gene's house. All the while, 'exciting' music is playing, telling us that - yes! Securicor is the most exciting and glamourous job in the world! There's danger! Intrigue! And...goofy blue helmets.
I rather like this one. After all the international crises Gene has faced (which have never been anywhere near believable), fighting a small group of amateur crooks in London is a nice change of pace. And, of course, there's Dennis Price's first appearance, bumping the score up to:
"Oi'm a pirate. Arrr, matey."
Another morning, another barge...
"...and they said my head was this big, can you believe that?"
"Don't forget to leave me a drop, sir?"
"POTATOES ARE WHAT WE EAT!!!"