Shout Factory’s YouTube channel has been a blessing to Saturday Night Showcase lately, and it is again tonight. Some of you out there probably remember the name Patrick McGoohan from The Prisoner, the somewhat surreal British series that had an impact on science fiction. But what about his other popular show, Secret Agent? At least that’s what the last two seasons was called in the US for some reason. Those of you who pop in from the UK (hey, Gary!) more likely know of the show under it’s proper name: Danger Man, which for the first season was the name used in the US. Why the change? Maybe CBS thought it sounded like a superhero or stunt show? I don’t know. We’re going with the UK name for the rest of the review because this is the pilot, when they still used it, even though the video is titled with the later US name.
Danger Man/Secret Agent follows NATO agent John Drake as he investigates various crimes. I didn’t even know NATO had their own criminal investigation group. I guess they thought MI6 was already done enough thanks to James Bond? Created by Ralph Smart and fleshed out initially by Ian Flemming (speaking of Bond) but replaced by Ian Stuart Black, Drake doesn’t use guns and sleep around like Bond does (also no cool gadgets) but he does have his own style. In the pilot, “View From The Villa”, Drake is trying to find stolen gold before the guys who killed the actual thief find it first. Enjoy.
McGoohan was also up for James Bond on two separate occasions but (according to Wikipedia) he turned it down because his Catholic values didn’t like up with Bond’s lifestyle. While John Drake did have the occasional relationship it wasn’t even close to Bond’s penchant for sleeping with at least one woman per mission. Relevant to my usual discussion topics he also played the Phantom once. Technically. In the 1990s theatrical movie he played the ghost of the previous Phantom to Bill Zane’s current Ghost Who Walks. And since the Phantom is the latest of a generation, McGoohan was the Phantom.
As stated in the US seasons two and three were retitled Secret Agent, complete with an original opening and theme song. If you’re a fan of 60s music you’ve probably heard this song before.
The song was written by P. F. Sloan and Steve Barri, while Johnny Rivers. I don’t think they realized what “secret agent man” they were talking about. The song itself shows up in other stories about secret agents, usually comedically. I even referenced it in a comic review once, but this is the first time I’ve seen the show. Going by the pilot at least John Drake has a name and I don’t think he was given an “007” type number. Drake also rarely killed, although circumstances often led to the villain of the episode being killed. In fact in one episode him not wanting to kill was part of the story. I kind of like that. It sets him apart from Bond. You can kind of tell he hadn’t quite got a hold of the character. He often talks fast but that might be part of his strategy to unnerve others and get control of the situation without them realizing it.
There were only two episodes done in color before McGoohan decided not to continue. Instead he wanted to work on a project he created. But (again, according to Wikipedia) depending on who you ask those two projects may have another connection. Don’t ruin it if you know what I’m referring to and why, because that’s for next week’s Showcase. This show is available in the US through Shout Factory and two seasons can be watched on Shout Factory TV for free.