Episode 17: The Solid Gold Hearse
"Taylor - I don't know how you survive, I really don't. Your entire approach seems to be confined to attacking people..."
Parminter races against time to preven a coffin full of stolen gold being smuggled out of England. He fails. Then he tries to stop it being smuggled out of Belgium. He fails again.
Meanwhile, Gene is playing dress-up.
'Gene Barry with Catherine Schell, Garrick Hagon and Barry Morse as Mr Parminter', who is grinning to all and sundry outside his office.
Sydney Tafler (Wyvern), Kevin Stoney (Miesner), David Weston (Farley), Janos Kurucz (Riener), Peter Birrel (Peter), Ken Wayne (Director).
Parminter's investigations take him from a London docks to Antwerp docks to a village in Düsseldorf. As where all this is really being filmed, I have no idea...
Parminter calls up Gene, and explains "I've got to stop a fortune in gold bullion being smuggled out of the country." They can't meet next week to talk about it - "I may be out of a job next week!"
Gene still ain't budging, so Parminter attempts to flatter him, by mentioning 'the Patterson case' ("A cargo of missing platinum, and all that..."), but that doesn't work either. "I'll give you a lead, that's all I can do." replies The Adventurer. "Try Vargo's wharf, underneath Waterloo Bridge. If there's anything going out of London right now, it's probably going from there." And as we've seen before, Gene often wakes up on certain sea-going vessels, so he must know his wharfs...
Gene's making a movie this week. Oh yes. It's a Western...well, that is, it's stock footage of a Western - a fairly exciting looking one too, with a few fires and explosions and people falling over even though they've not been shot. Intercut with this is footage of Sherriff Gene, mostly likely shot on a cold February morning in a field near the studio, getting off his horse and sort of wandering aimlessly towards the camera whilst scowling.
"Very good, Gene!" cries the director. "Great scene!", and he should know when a scene of Gene walking down a hill is good or not, obviously. It's also worth mentioning that Gene is clearly exhausted by having to walk all of two feet towards camera.
Parminter has never been to Düsseldorf before. He also has some sort of camera, which he uses in an attempt to look like a tourist. He just ends up looking like an arse.
As you can see. His slide into buffoonery continues throughout this episode, culminating in his giving away his position to the enemy during an argument with Taylor. As you do.
Diane sneaks onto the barge that Parminter suspects will be transporting the platinum, because she can speak German. At this point, we know that the baddies speak English, and so should she, so the whole thing's irrelevant. No sooner has she set foot on the barge then the baddies show up and sail it away with her still on-board, which is a bit of a setback for Parminter. Still, she remains hidden for the two-day journey from London to Antwerp
Again, she's useful in a fight, smashing various ne'er-do-wells over the head with boxes and barrels. You go girl!
Gavin takes Parminter to Antwerp in their trusty yellow car, as seen in last week's episode, before threatening Kevin Stoney to gain information and then driving on to Düsseldorf. He comes into his own at the end of the episode, beating up most of the baddies in a way Gene would be proud of.
Later on in the episode, we get see another scene of this wonderful movie being shot, as Gene investigates an empty wagon and then gets jumped on by two villains. Gene throws them and shoves them into submission, before getting carried away and attacking a stagehand. Luckily, he only flips the fellow over, rather than paralysing him for life with one of those elbow jabs to the spine he's so fond of.
Again, no old friend of Gene's appears in this episode.
This week's baddies are another faceless/nameless lot, though the leader of this operation appear to be a bald gentleman who seems reluctant to complain about the weather.
WYVERN: "It's a little cold, you know?"
Gripping stuff, I'm sure you'll agree. Oh, and Ian Hislop is on hand, too.
DIANE: "Standing orders specifically state, sir: section 4, paragraph B, all key personnel engaged in field operations must not expose themselves to unnecessary risks, and besides, if there's someone still on board, I speak German."
PARMINTER: "Do standing orders really say that?"
GAVIN: "Word for word."
PARMINTER: "Hmm...must look at them sometime..."
Parminter - he doesn't play by the rules. Mainly because he doesn't know them, but still, he gets results...
PARMINTER: "Now, we have no knowledge or proof that they are ferrying the gold across. If they're not, we simply make ourselves look stupid, and alert the real villains. If, on the other hand, they are the people we're after, then we're likely to end up in the hold, with Miss Marsh, and that will achieve nothing. It's all rather difficult."
GAVIN: "What are we gonna do, sir?"
PARMINTER: "That's the difficult part."
Yay! More silliness! Although this is somewhat spoiled by...
GAVIN: "What would Gene Bradley do?..."
Argh! Who cares? Can't you people make any decisions without thinking about him? Still, Gavin decides that Gene would 'probably hijack the barge', so maybe he is doing as I do and making fun of Gene's expert knowledge of barges.
A rather suspenseful opening sees a police sergeant working for Parminter loitering in a British cemetery before creeping into a crypt and breaking into a padlocked coffin, in which is contained a lot of gold. Before he can do whatever he was going to do, the baddies file in and make off with the gold, locking him in. His cries of "You'll never get away with this! Open this door!" fall on deaf ears...
"I may be out of a job next week!"
First time I saw this episode, I thought the opening (what with the helpless police sergeant getting locked in a crypt) was somewhat on the dark side for this series. It's only been this time round that I've even noticed the guy got out - he's standing behind Parminter during his first scene. No lines, no explanation of how he escaped. Totally bogus, dude.
Wait - hang on. This is new. As the first time I saw this series was on ITV4, as I've mentioned before, certain scenes would have been cut for time, so occasionally when doing this guide from the DVDs I stumble across a scene I've not seen before, and this is one of them. Parminter suddenly notices this poor sergeant fellow, and is terribly concerned. "Oh dear, you look terrible." "Yes sir." replies the poor sergeant fellow. Aww. "Look here, you'd better run along and get cleaned up and have some rest, what?"
The police fellow asks what'll happen with the case, and Parminter assures him he'll take care of it - before asking "Who's on the duty roster today?" "Diane Marsh and Gavin Taylor, sir." So...is he actually a policeman? Parminter asks this 'sergeant' to ask Diane and Gavin if they could pop over and see him, so...are they police then? Kevin Stoney asks Parminter that question in this episode, and gets the reply "Oh, perish the though!" So...is anyone police?
Are you police?
Anyway, the main problem here - Parminter presumably knows that the gold is in a coffin. He and Taylor arrive in Antwerp just in time to watch a coffin being taken off the suspect barge...and they just let it go. Idiots. And then later, they do it again - the baddies drive their hearse into a cemetery and suddenly Parminter and co get thoroughly confused and can't tell which one is the one they're after. Surely such top agents should have made a note of the license number?
Look at this. Just look at it. Two consecutive frames from this episode.
That's just marvellous, is that. Boing boing boing...
Well, I could pick the rather dull car chase at the start of the second half of the episode. It's mainly being used to show off the location, but it goes on for nearly four minutes, and even one of the baddies can be seen glancing at his watch with a bored expression on his face. But no...it just has to be Cowboy Gene.
This is just marvellous, too.
Um...ah...hmm. Nope, sorry. Again, I was enjoying it all too much to take notes.
This is my favourite episode, so it automatically gets full marks. It's not that the story is particularly good, because it isn't - it's just the wonderful Parminter/Gavin/Diane bits. This episode could have been about them trying to find Parminter's brolly after he left it on the bus and I would still love it to bits.
They could do anything, those three, and it would automatically be dead brill because they were doing it.
|The International Walk Like a Duck competition gets underway.|
"Let's see, what series can I go into next - ah. Eastenders, yes. I could be the next tough guy gangster fellow. "'Ello, wot?"."
"What I meant was your jumper is very nice, yes...oh boy..."
"Now, Taylor, if ever you get lonely on a Saturday night, just come down to the docks. Everybody's very nice, and there's no end of fine young fellows for you to spend the night with. Now, if I remember correctly, this young man's name is Gareth, or as I like to call him-"
"Sir, that's Diane."
"It's what?...ah. Yes, well...hmm."