Episode 26: Somebody Doesn't Like Me
"From now on, I look twice at a guy with his hands in his pocket, any car that comes too close...anything, and everything..."
We've finally reached the series finale, and the various plot threads that have been building throughout the previous 25 episodes come to a head here as the criminal world finally decides to do away with the meddlesome Gene Bradley once and for all. The reward for whomsoever can engineer his death is a mere £50,000, but Gene ignores all warnings until he takes off in his little plane for parts unknown and realises it has been sabotaged.
Narrowly escaping death by, um, landing the plane again, Gene continues to face half-hearted threats against his life. Somebody obviously doesn't like him...but who?
"Who is trying to kill Gene Bradley? Is it Catherine Schell?"
"Or is it Burt Kwouk?"
"Or maybe Mr Satsuma?"
"Or is it the 1991 Denver Broncos?"
Let's face it, it could feasibly be any character he's ever come into contact with over the course of the series, but the answer, you'll be stunned to hear, is a), none of the above, and b), someone we've never seen before.
'Gene Barry with Garrick Hagon and Barry Morse as Mr Parminter', who is, for one final time, doffing his hat outside his Ministry of External Affairs.
Penelope Horner (Krista), Peter Vaughan (Roberts), Reginald Marsh (Sorenson), Robin Hawdon (Buckley), Jim Norton (Morgan), William Abney (Co-Pilot), James Ware (Reynolds), Jeremy Higgins (Barman), Edward Dentith (Commissionaire).
I expect that Dentith was the person Jon Pertwee went to see when he had tooth-ache.
Uncredited - Mike Stevens (Concerned Mechanic).
There's some minimal London location filming involving cars and locations and roads and suchlike.
No mission, no briefing.
Nothing much to say about Gene. In fact, this episode is rather light on character moments. 88-Delta is sabotaged (some sort of panel is removed and fluid is leaked all over the floor of the hangar, something that nobody actually notices until after the plane has taken off) but manages to make it back to the ground in one piece, and we learn that Gene has a favourite hairdressers...
Parminter doesn't really do a lot here either. He knows Gene's a marked man but he doesn't do much to help matters, except pull his 'Oh dear' face. He's also had a set of keys cut for every lock in Gene's house, and seems terribly amused by Gene's newspaper obituaries. Overall, he does very little, but does get the honor of appearing in the final shot of the series.
I still pray for a spinoff series.
Gavin makes a brief appearance when he 'murders' Gene outside the ATV studios, in order to negate the ongoing threat against his chum's life. It's a pretty confusing moment for casual viewers, actually, as the only way we know it's him is when he casually glances over his shoulder while making his escape. Seeing as how he's been largely absent from the series recently, some sort of dialogue between Gene and Parminter getting someone to carry out this murder might have been helpful. As it is, it just looks like he's finally decided to have Gene done away with in an unrelated subplot.
This idea is strengthened by the fact that he and the villains seem to share the same car.
Our final episode brings us some final classic fashion moments. Here, we have a perfectly reasonable top half, and a downright goofy bottom half no doubt made from a picnic blanket..
Also, the final episode brings back a long forgotten facet of Gene's character - that he's a master of disguise.
Mmm. Well, maybe there was a reason they forgot about that...he disguises himself as a hitman, you see, to fool the baddies into thinking that he killed himself, and...yeah. He hides in the shadows once he reaches the baddies' hideout anyway, so the reason for the disguise remains unclear.
Gene meets up with Krista, an ex-girlfriend - or is she? "You tried to relieve me of $100,000." he reminds her, following a lot of vague "It's been a long time." "Yes, it has." "You remembered." "Yes, I did." guff. Anyway, by the end of the episode, he's willing to take a chance on her again. "It could be worth it." Aww. I hope she bleeds you dry, Gene.
She has a chum, Johnny Morgan, who informs Gene about the plot to kill him. He learnt about it by strolling down to the villains' dockside warehouse lair and overhearing it, but he pays with his life as the baddies kill him by sticking him in one of those beds that fold up into a wall...
Mr Sorenson, and his chums Roberts, Buckley and Andy Williams-lookalike Reynolds apparently live in warehouse 47 at the London Docks, where they plot the downfall of Gene Bradley along with various other shifty-looking types.
"Sorenson? Of course, that figures. Last month, one of my firms was on the verge of making a deal. When I discovered Sorenson was involved, I pulled out...There were 5 international companies, all privately owned. When I pulled out, they all did."
Right. So you were being a jerk to this guy, and convinced your friends to do the same, thus setting him off on his life of crime? Gene, you have a lot to answer for...you bully.
Anyway, the whole gang is arrested at the end of the episode, and they confess immediately, and even for Adventurer baddies they're distinctly feeble and unmemorable.
The baddies plot, rhubarb rhubarb-style, in a warehouse:
BADDY #1: "Let's have your report. On the shops."
BADDY #2: "Well, I don't think he's any good at all..."
Ah, the perils of ad-libbing on a series you hope no-one's ever going to see you in...
Some guy we've never seen before (Johnny Morgan) narrowly escapes from some other guys we've never seen before (the baddies, one of whom mutters something about a 'reckoning with Gene Bradley') by craftily hiding behind their car. When they all get in and drive away, he sits up in full view of anybody who possesses an eye, and throws himself in a ditch.
Not the most thrilling of openings. Fortunately, the mid-episode ad break point is much more memorable, as Gene walks up to a shattered mirror, and straightens his tie. It's meant to be a cool Bondian moment, and if it were anyone else it would be, but it's not, it's Gene, so it's hilarious.
Gene's "Maybe we should make sure that something does...happen..." would be the pick if this were any other story, but the final line of the final episode of the series has to take this honor: Gene's rather poignant "Lock up, will you...and put the lights out."
No major problems here, except that I don't understand why, when Gene makes a phonecall to Sorenson and pretends to be an assassin who has killed Gene, he feels it necessary to also be disguised as that assassin. Obviously it clues the audience in to his plan, but that's about all...
Oh, and Gene only finds out who the baddies are when one of them (Roberts, AKA Genial Harry Grout) meets Krista in order to warn her off...something. She then picks him out from some police photos, and the whole gang is identified immediately. What dummies they be.
No it isn't, not this week. No technical problems that I could see...
After learning about the plot to kill him, Gene decides that he'd better get his hair cut, because it simply wouldn't do for him to die with untidy hair. Alas, the baddies have taken over his favourite hairdressers (no, I'm not making this up), and offer to give him a short back-and-sides...with a bullet.
Gene pulls a constipated face and wheels round in his chair, knocking his assailant to the ground. Before the man can get up again, Gene ambles over and sticks his arse in the camera, so we can't actually see what's going on. Some thumping and smacking follows, and the thug is out for the count.
That was a close one, Gene. Still, our hero isn't too fussed; he even apparently lets the baddy go, because he's out causing trouble again just a few scenes later...
The guard dog at the airfield is quite clearly not a guard dog. Its wagging its tail and it wants to get at whatever tasty treat its handler is holding. Bless.
Gavin's newspaper gives us a date for this episode; November 29th, 1972. We also learn that Gene and Sorenson's newspaper of choice is the 'Evening News'.
The DVD episode guide booklet mentions something about a 'bomb in the shape of a parcel' being one of the ways in which the baddies attempt to do away with Gene, which apparently didn't make it to the screen.
And now, for lack of anything better to do, a brief tribute to legendary extra chappy Mike Stevens. If you're not interested, then scroll down to the bottom for more silly piccies. Anyway, I promised way back in the guide for episode 2 that he'd pop up again, and here he is as the mechanic who discovers the sabotage carried out on Gene's plane by persons unknown.
Spotting this guy in other things has become something of a hobby for me, and I don't really know why. I've just always found the exploits of background characters and extras to be quite interesting, though, so...yeah. My life is better than it sounds, really.
Anyway (ready or not, here we go), the earliest appearance of him (that I can find) in an ITC production comes in The Baron episode 'Portrait of Louisa', where we briefly see him shaking his stuff at a disco. Note the look of vague concern that was soon to become his trademark.
From here, superstardom beckoned. The Saint episode 'The Angel's Eye' sees him as a concerned tour party member, and here we see the exact moment he's told by the lovely Jane Merrow that the 'Angel's Eye' diamond is 125-carat sterling.
Let's put that in context for you by examining the reactions of the people around him. There's a young lady on the left who seems to be thinking "Hmm, that's interesting" and an older lady in the middle who isn't terribly impressed, and over on the right Mike seems to be thinking "JESUS CHRIST WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!"
You can't keep a talent like this down, folks. Note that the ladies are quite drawn to his pointy hair, too.
It was daring of Mike to change his performance style from 'concerned' to 'angry', but here he is as an angry villager in an episode of Man in a Suitcase.
After branching out into 'concerned disinterest' for The Champions,
it was back to concerned again for the first episode of Deparment S (a guide for which has just opened elsewhere on this site, so go read it cos it's terribly good). Here we see him as a member of an airline crew, behind Cap'n Bernard Horsfall, devastated after having just learnt that he's lost six days of his life.
Later on, he also had to report the theft of his watch too. Clearly, he wasn't having a good day.
In this piccy from UFO, we see Mike pressing a button. Note the concerned precision with which he does so.
The role of 'Charles the Chauffeur' in a later episode of that series is one of only two credits for him on the IMDB. A deleted scene apparently had Charles peeling an orange while looking concerned, so Mike was obviously still interested in increasing his range at this point. This time, we got a smile and concern.
Of course, it wasn't just the ITC series that allowed Mike Stevens to show off his trademark 'look of concern'. Here he is in The Avengers, as a thug guarding that dastardly cad John Steed. He's playing a nice thug, though, sharing his lunch with Steed and everything (thus allowing Steed to kosh him and escape, of course).
When Ernst Stavro Blofeld is holding the world to nuclear ransom with his diamond-powered laser satellite of death, you've got every right to look concerned, as indeed Mr Stevens does in Diamonds are Forever.
Here, we see the only meeting between Mr Bond and Mr Concerned, on the big screen. So close, you can feel his concern...
He also seems to have been in a few Carry Ons. I don't know how I know that, but I do.
Of course, such a giant of the small and silver screen must surely have played some part in the travels of that eccentric time-travelling personage known as Doctor Who, no? Yes, indeedy. Well, apparently. I've never really noticed him, but some research reveals him to have been in a few Pertwee stories. Concerned Peladonian. Concerned Stangmoor Prisoner. Concerned UNIT Soldier and Concerned Auton. Wherever a scene needed to convey a bit more moodiness than it could with Pertwee rubbing his neck, Mike Stevens would be there. Probably.
Eeek! It's the Master!
Only fooling. It's Mike Stevens really, getting the last word in in The Sea Devils. But is it just me, or whenever Delgado's Master made someone else wear a mask of his face...it looked more like Anthony Ainley? Odd that.
For me, however, the highlight of his career was his work in the first series of Space:1999, and at this rate you can expect me to pick up that guide some time in 2999. Almost every episode, he can be seen lurking the background, and what with all the terrible shenanigans that the runaway moon faced as it travelled across the universe, a look of sincere concern was a must-have. After one one-word line in the third episode, he never looked back, and could often be seen lurking just behind Martin Landau during times of extreme crisis. Here, we see him learning that a monstrous heat-sucking vampire is on the loose.
And here we see him watching somebody exploding.
Here he is on his only trip to an alien planet, where he felt it necessary to take his shirt off. Ooh. Note Catherine Schell, and Barry Morse lurking in the background, so all this does still vaguely tie in with The Gene Barry Show as outlined above.
And here he is hugging that silly Tarrant lass from Death to the Daleks. Yeah, she was a 1999 extra too. I suppose there's some comment to be made about Who only having the budget to hire 1999's extras to fill main guest roles, but that would be a little unfair. And completely wrong, too.
His BAFTA moment came in episode three, where Barbara Bain has been taken over by a giant glowing space eyeball thingy that whispers a lot, and it gives her the power to walk through walls. The usual, y'know. Anyway, she walks through a wall straight in front of Mike Stevens' character (and after the evidence presented here I trust you are as impressed with his thespic talents as I) and he's understandably slightly concerned by this unexpected turned of events.
Look at that. He's being concerned with both barrels there. You don't get such a niche performer these days. You just...don't.
I think what I'm trying to say here is 'Mike Stevens for teh win'. 'Xcept I don't know what that actually means. Anyway, Mike Stevens. Woo.
Well...it's a nice idea, really, that Gene's finally annoyed everyone enough that they want to have him killed, but like most Adventurer tales, it doesn't really hold together, particularly towards the end. Maybe if it were a little longer things might be different, because as it is Gene barely learns that people are trying to kill him before it's time to wrap the whole thing up. In fact, this is probably the only episode I think needed to be longer...
Other than the Genie-less episodes, natch.
"So, I'm playing your co-pilot in this scene, right?"
"Okay....and who are you playing again?"
"Oh, I'm Gene Bradley, film star, businessman and secret agent of some repute. My glamorous lifestyle and thirst for adventure thrust me into new and exciting situations with every episode, and my devastating good looks bring many a pretty young girl my way."
|"No, come on, who are you really playing?"|
Andy Williams makes an appearance. He's making music to watch girls by, I'll wager.
|Insert Ursula joke here.|
"The series has been cancelled, you say? Ah. Well, maybe it's for the best, 'n' all that..."
"We're not gonna make it! We're running out of runway!"