Somethings wrong with Tony Gardner. His long racing career is in jeopardy due to his newly experienced failing eyesight. His impairment is showing to those close to him and endangers those racing with him. With the Grand Prix coming up, Tony’s pride and the reluctance of the Ciranno racing company to use a different driver forces Michael Strait to intervene. As the race begins so comes the time for Ciranno to resolve the differences between the driver and the race.
An aging race driver who risks his and others lives around him mainly due to his pride and his aspirations sounds like a good story. However, this episode has two underlining stories, one the story of Tony Gardner as the old race driver and two the Ciranno racing head Mario and his up and coming race car driver son Ricki. Michael Strait sets both straight as is expected but the story was not as intense and grabbing as the previous episode. Lotus provided the vehicles in the filming of this episode so for the car enthusiasts this might be your episode but for fans of struggle and victory this may not suit your style.
An interesting assignment for Michael Strait photographing the reclusive daughter of one of the richest men in the world. The mere act of publishing the photos of the daughter would risk her life as she tries to maintain a life outside of her fathers Spanish villa. Michael Strait is all too willing to help but finds himself in a plot in which everyone tried to avoid.
A long term concocted plan to hide the identity of the daughter comes to an exploding end or so it seems. This colour pilot episode brightens up this storyline and is set on the coast of Spain near the Strait of Gibraltar. The scenes of the blue ocean, tree lined villas and yachts really encapsulate the jet-set experience of the rich and famous. Graham Stark, who is a regular in one of my favourite movie series The Pink Panther, also makes an appearance.
Tensions are rising between the Algerian delegates and the French ruling military presence. A conference is to be held to find a peaceful resolution for both parties in the wake of an assassination of a local freedom fighter. Michael Strait is tasked to attend and find out the truth to why there is sabotage in the air.
A picture is worth more than a thousand words and this first episode of the Man of the World series begin right away with powerful footage of rioting Algerian revolutionaries against the occupying French government. The foundation is set for the series and the character of Michael Strait, played by Craig Stevens, by establishing his credibility as a world-renowned photographer and international influencer on governments and politicians. Tracy Reed as Maggie Warren adds an elegance to the series which almost demands it with all the jet setting men around.
As a 1963 spin-off of another ITC show called Man of the World, The Sentimental Agent continued the on-screen character of Carlos Verela. The Man of the World series had an episode aptly named The Sentimental Agent which featured Carlos Thompson. His notable appearance started the ball rolling towards having a dedicated weekly series solely on Carlos’s character.
The Sentimental Agent can grow on you. The scenes of 1960s London and Europe, the fantastic ear worm inducing opening theme by Ivor Slaney and the familiar charm that comes with a production by Lew Grade all make this series worth at least a peek.
Carlos Thompson (Carlos Verela) as the lead actor adds to this charm by his exotic and refined demeanour. After a career in Hollywood and South America, Carlos settled in Europe with his arguably more famous wife Lilli Palmer. There he rekindled his acting career in Germany and in the UK specifically in The Sentimental Agent. Carlos Verela is in the import/export business (Mercury International) and uses his sophistication to wheel and deal with the best of them. His influence has made him friends and enemies and thus the adventures ensue. Carlos’s sense of humour and wit support his advantage over government officials, real estate agents and insurance dealers.
The supporting cast of Clemence Bettany (Miss Carter) and Burt Kwouk (Chin) hold their own as consistently strong characters that in some episodes have more screen time than Carlos Thompson. Miss Carter is the backbone to the business and is often unfortunately portrayed as the stereotypical office secretary. Chin, played by Burt Kwouk, is the ever dedicated Chinese butler/sidekick that seems to be there at the right moment when needed. This role is also clear in its racial connotations that perhaps in the 1960s was hardly identifiable but today runs into the uncomfortable range. Burt Kwouk is still a splendid actor despite the stereotypical typecasting he experienced in most of his career. Another supporting cast member John Turner (Bill Randall) steps in as Carlos’s replacement in the tail end of the series due to the official statement that Carlos Thompson left the series due to his lack of English language skills. Whether this is the truth, Bill Randall’s appearance in the show became the turning point for the series. Bill Randal’s clumsy and oblivious persona was no match to the charisma and aura of Carlos’s character.
After 13 episodes, 5 of which did not feature Carlos Thompson, the Sentimental Agent fizzled into the abyss of unmemorable television series. Yet after the experience of watching all these episodes in detail it is in my opinion that this fate is not deserved.
The region of Palabria rejects a no strings attached £ 11 million gift from the Dollar for Europe trust. But why? Now with only 3 days before the trust opportunity expires Bill Randall must head to Palabria to find out what happened to such an easy deal. The Dollars for Europe Trust would be an easy commission for Mercury so Bill’s interests are not just the people of Palabria. Bill and Chin have a couple of tricks up their sleeves to please all interested parties.
The final episode of this series starts with a very rough edit of Carlos Verela heading out by ship with a beautiful lady, perhaps to close off the series with an appearance of the sentimental agent. Carlos has been missing from the last two episodes. Now that Carlos is gone, Bill Randall, Chin and Miss Carter must handle the business of Mercury International. This episode view into the world of bribes and mild corruption certainly seems feasible in reality and likely was inspired by “gifts” pouring into Europe after World War 2. A decent way to send off this series with a Mercury International happy ending.