Episode 20: Going, Going
"Man who has hen-house...does not buy eggs."
All is not well in Adventurerland. Gene has bought a Ming vase, a scientist named Lynsky has gone missing and Parminter suspects that Gene knows something about it. And he does. But he's not telling. Yes, he's in one of those moods again...
'Gene Barry with Catherine Schell, Garrick Hagon and Barry Morse as Mr Parminter', who has come to see Gene off in his little helicopter, as he begins his journey to who only knows where...
Arnold Diamond (Eisen), Burt Kwouk (Taiho), Norman Bird (Brooks), Bridget Armstrong (Yvette), Norman Ettlinger (Lynsky), George Little (Rostov), Robert James (Auctioneer), Mischa de la Motte (Bolton).
We're back in London this week, with plenty of long scenes in cars. And that's with the actors actually in the cars in London, not in the cars in front of a back-projection screen, which makes a nice change.
No real mission briefing this week, although characters do explain the odd thing to each other throughout the story.
Gene's been on the pull again, as he's heading into Bond Street to buy lots of expensive things for Yvette, whoever she is. And apparently, "it's going to be your day, Yvette.", so maybe he's taking her to get her terrible hair sorted out. Finally.
Anyway, somehow everyone believes that Gene is up to no good, because his name was found engraved in a writing pad in the missing scientist Lynsky's room. Conclusive proof, I'm sure you'll agree.
It turns out that Gene's butler is in fact up to no good, not Gene. No, not Brandon, but some chap named Brooks. But where is Brandon then? Not to worry, continuity fans - Parminter is on the case. "What's happened to your other man, Brandon?" Quite - where has the Price-meister been since episode ten? "Oh, we received a message that his sister was ill." explains Gene. "He's visiting his family." Aww...why couldn't we be watching that instead of this? Come on, I wanna see Brandon's sister, because I know that it would be Dennis Price in drag, and that would have been the Greatest Thing Ever.
Anyway, it all works out OK - Gene's company buys something from the scientist guy, and I bet you were worried. Well, now you can relax.
Parminter is mostly ordering Gavin and Diane around, and saying "Oh dear oh dear." He pops round to Gene's once or twice to ask to be filled in on the plot, but that's about it. Oh, but he does warn Gene about Brooks. I don't know what he knew, but still, he was right...
Diane gets to do a fair bit in this, her final episode. Opening Gene's post is one of her jobs, as is taking that post 'to the laboratory for tests'. At one point, she even seems to be left in charge of the entire...well, wherever the heck it is Parminter and gang work...
Despite the fact that he seems to be 'playing a double game', Diane still cares enough about Gene to meet him for a drink and warn him off. "We've worked together, Gene, and...I'd hate to work against you." Aww.
Gavin's reaction to Parminter's "It looks as if Gene's playing a double game." is not "I can't believe that!", but just "Why?", so clearly Gavin's had his suspicions about Gene for some time. Clever Gavin.
After a suspicious telephone engineer pops over to Gene's, Gavin then goes over there himself, dropping his American accent and pretending to be the other fellow's supervisor. His plan is to plant a bug on Gene's phone, but he discovers one already waiting for him, courtesy of the Russians, which was nice of them. He switches it for his own and goes on his way.
Later on, he is assigned to follow Gene to his rendezvous with Lynsky, tailing close behind his limo. Gene spots him, and the last we see of Gavin is him being pulled over by the police, Gene having phoned them to say that he's driving a stolen car...
No dancing, no fashions (at least not ones we've not seen before), not even a good fight scene - however, Gene's old knack of magically sensing things that are important to the plot returns in this episode. Picking up his now bugged telephone, he then suddenly instinctively knows he shouldn't using it, and puts it down. Good man.
Maybe Lynsky's an old friend, but maybe not.
Three main baddies here, none of whom really do anything. There's Brooks the naughty butler, who is working for Eisen. About him I know nothing, except that he offers to pay Brooks a 'bonus' for his good work. And that sounds genuine, it's not a "Here's your bonus - pow pow pow!" type thing.
Also, Burt Kwouk is around, and being vaguely threatening...very vaguely, of course. He also sits and smiles a lot, which is handy.
YVETTE: "A vase? You've come here to buy a vase?"
GENE: "But it's a very special one - Ming."
YVETTE: "A mink vase?"
GENE: "No, no - ming."
Was that comedy? Was that, y'know, a joke? Because, y'know, I really can't tell anymore...
AUCTIONEER: "There's a reserve of £12,000 on this lot...rather high, I should have thought. I'll start the bidding at 8."
Ooh, well aren't you a bad-ass auctioneer who don't play by the rules, hmm?
Gene, having just won the vase at auction, is stopped by honourable Burt Kwouk:
TAIHO: "I make honourable proposition: I buy half your Ming, yes?"
GENE: "Regret cannot accept honourable proposition. You buy half my Ming, no."
Gene wanders away, Taiho seethes, and that's it. I'm not sure if this is racist, or if Burt is just dumbing down the sentence to a level that Gene can understand...
"Gene! I've been trying to contact you for days! Where've you been?"
Diane finds a map in Gene's post, and explains that "Lynsky bought three copies of that map the day he disappeared." How the heck could anyone possibly know that?
Oh goody, it's another story that violently makes no sense. OK...there's a Ming vase with a little picture of a dragon on it. Gene wins it at auction, and is then told by the auctioneer that it is in fact a fake. Rather than let that get him down, Gene puts tracing paper on it, drawing the outline of the dragon thingy before smashing the vase that he's paid £175,00 for. We later learn that the vase contained 'a formula', so presumably that's why Gene paid so much money for it.
Gene is clearly an even bigger idiot than we already knew he was.
Anyway - he doesn't throw the pieces out, allowing Brooks to send them on to Eisen who reconstructs it, but Gene's hidden two of the most important pieces, leaving one of them lying around for Brooks to find. Once he's found it, he heads over to Eisen to deliver it in person, and that's how Gene finds them out.
Meanwhile, Taiho has just somehow magically found out all about the plot, and...
Oh, forget it, I can't explain all this nonsense.I refuse to think about this thing in detail when the writer probably knocked it up in ten minutes flat. It doesn't make the slightest sense, but what's worse is that everyone looks so smug about it all. It's a nonsense plan and I cannot get my head round it, so I'm not even going to try.
This week again shows Gene's lounge to be upstairs, which confuses me because I've always assumed it was at ground level...
There's not much to choose from here, but the way Gene deals with Gavin is a nice insight into his character. Other heroes might say "Lose them!", and after some fancy driving they do indeed lose the person that has been tailing them. Gene just phones up the police and gets them to arrest his friend.
I would not want a friend like Gene.
As far as I know, this is the first episode to give us any sort of timeframe for the series - the story starts on October 27th, 1972.
Yay! The little toot-toot-toot-toot music that I like makes another appearance, as does the alternate theme music on the end titles.
And finally - this episode sees Catherine Schell's final appearance as Diane Marsh, and regular readers (yes, all three of you) may have noticed that I have something of a soft spot for the lass. This is entirely true, she's been wonderful, and I'm very sorry to see her go. This was the episode in which she ended up shouting at Gene during filming, and I like to believe that she walked off the set of her own free will rather than getting fired.
So, Catherine - thank you for making this awful series somewhat more watchable. And for standing up to a bully. You were great, and you still are.
While it's nice to see conflict among the main characters - OK, they're not hitting each other or anything, it's all very restrained conflict - this one isn't as good as it could have been, the reason for that being (yet again) a story that makes no sense at all. Add to that people wandering around doing things for no real reason as far as I can see, then I can't really give this one more than three stars.
We're now 6 episodes away from the end of the series...and it's all about to go horribly wrong.
|Diane takes a trip to 'the laboratory', where bald men shine lights on things before looking at them...|
|Fair dos to both of them - you wouldn't know they'd just been yelling at each other, would you?|
|Look at Gavin there, making eyes at Diane. Eyes off, Taylor, she's mine!|
"Miss Marsh? What are you doing behind my desk?"
"I've taken over, Mr Parminter. I'm in charge of this department now."
"Oh, I say, this is most -"
"ON YOUR KNEES, PARMINTER!!!!" And so on.