As much as I can complain and pick apart this series, I am still inclined to be happy it exists. The Adventurer program came into the television world way late for the late 1960’s debonair bachelor secret agent character hype. This series would not be as entertaining without those clichés albeit in an older more mature form than its more glamorized predecessors. In particular the presumptuous star of the show, Gene Bradley played by the already self assured Gene Barry comes off as an aging privileged archetype character of what those slick agents would have become in the 10 years succeeding their career peaks.
The Adventurer is a one season television series (1972-1973) that collected a cast from different walks of life. Gene Bradley is Gene Barry visa versa and so the character reflects the actor in a unique way. From interviews with fellow stars,Gene Barry was at the very least a difficult person to work with and especially to act with. One particular example is Gene’s relationship with Catherine Schell who played Diane Marsh, a useful yet rarely used agent, working with Mr Parminter. Gene Barry, recorded as being 6ft tall, took aim at Catherine, she was taller than him. Catherine was written out of scenes with Gene Barry and her role was greatly diminished for some time due to Gene’s anxiety with taller actors sharing scenes with him. Luckily, she came back to playing a bigger role as Gene slowly neglected the television series. Barry Morse was also in the crew, playing an über posh agent, Mr. Parminter, whose role morphed from the stereotypical “too right” Englishman to the somewhat inept bobbling sidekick to Gene Bradley. As the series went on, the storylines brought in the sidekick trio of Mr. Parminter, Diane Marsh and Gavin Jones to greater prominence in the show.
In the beginning, when I started watching this series I was filled with anticipation for yet another agent tv series. The European locations, the recurring characters and familiar actors make such series rewarding for a fan. Gene Barry does the show a disservice coming off as an old wealthy lethargic creep. Either he was always a poor actor or simply he wrote off the series, squeaking just by the minimal in acting requirements. Barry Morse, a regular on ITC shows throughout its history, does an admirable job with the role he was give as Mr. Parminter. Catherine Schell and Garrick Hagon fill in the gaps, joining forces with Mr Parminter whilst on each investigation.
It is rare when I mention negatives about a show made for entertainment sake so I will leave it to a minimum. The Adventurer is not a superb show and at times was laughable in it lack of authenticity. Its place in time and tv history is one valid reason for me to watch it, the scenes of 1972 Amsterdam and the 70’s attire of Gene Bradley still gives me some joy that this show was recorded.
We have made it to the end of Season 1 of The Adventures of Robin Hood.
Hannah Weinstein (she’s rad) had approached Lew Grade with the big plans for a series based upon the legend of Robin Loxley aka Robin Hood. The show was quickly picked up for both the UK and the USA television markets.
In 1955, this show full of left wingers and blacklisted writers from the US is distributed by ITC Entertainment was a hit both sides of the Atlantic. This success triggered the green light for other series to be created such as The Adventures of Sir Lancelot, The Buccaneers, Sword of Freedom and The Four Just Men.
Richard Greene plays the lead role of Robin Hood joined along other notable actors like Alan Wheatley, Archie Duncan, Ronald Howard and later Paul Eddington. The Adventures of Robin Hood has an excellent record for cameos from up and coming actors that we would know from more popular movies and television series.
Season 1 is 39 episodes long, which sets the tone for the series and begins to build up the storyline for Robin Hood, his Outlaws and the other antagonists cast. We meet Robin Hood and start to see his transition into the fellow villagers trust and then into their hearts as a champion against Prince John, the crafty Sheriff of Nottingham and yes the minions.
Season 2 is soon to pop out its head with the ongoing saga of Medieval England life in Nottinghamshire butted against the tyranny of Prince John.
In 1974, The Zoo Gang was created at a time where World War 2 was fading away in the memories of those who lived through the war and still alive some 30 years later. The premise of the series is this group of reunited ex-resistance/covert fighters, that have gone their separate ways after the war, were then reunited because of a chance encounter with the man that turned in those in the Zoo Gang to the Gestapo. They have come together to reunite for justice for a dead fellow resistance fighter. Four seasoned and talented actors took the roles of the Zoo Gang. Lili Palmer shines as the only female member of the Zoo Gang, her emotional connection to the character displays itself on the screen and demonstrates her prowess over the actresses at that time. Barry Morse and Sir John Mills join the team as obvious englishmen that are clever and sneaky enough to steal cars and pickpocket. Brian Keith is the token American character, that comes off well as his charm and his deep toned, uniquely accented voice brings in some of the highlights of stereotypically friendly yankee behavior. Brian is the classic John Wayne type cowboy in amongst a pair of Englishmen and a French/German woman, the dynamic couldn’t have been better.
The series follows the Zoo Gang as they stick around the area of Nice in the south of France using the reward money that they earn from their investigations to fund a new hospital. It is hard for me to recognise this concept of this show as a realistic one however a leaning towards realism would not have been as entertaining. The show was popular amongst the 50 yr plus audience, the actors were also in this age group. The six episode run of The Zoo Gang was short but was planned due to the full schedules of the cast. As with most ITC shows, the secondary casting is fantastic, filling roles such as russian spies, gypsies, thieves and more which easily spells out quotable and vividly spectacular television. The series likely benefitted from the shortened season despite the momentum upward the shows achieved as the the series ended. Ken Thorne provides an excellent collection of incidental music that could be considered far too hip for this ageing foursome. The addition of a groovy Brass and String soundtrack with hints of the 1970’s coming through supercedes the intro theme song being composed and performed by Paul McCartney while with Wings.
As the end of the series came to a conclusion, I sensed in the actors a twinge of disappointment for the series ending and I do agree, the chemistry and the collective raw skill of the cast was addictive to watch. I did however not feel cheated for not having a 25 episode season of The Zoo Gang, just disappointed. A great show definitely worth a watch.
This post concludes all of my posts of The Baron episodes. Unfortunately due to the lack of audience the studio decided not to renew the series but yet we are left with a small portion of fun television which is a staple of the time. Even after the years, The Baron is still quite unique in its delivery of good old crime fiction television. I may speak for myself but I always get excited when I can sit back on the couch and re-watched of few of these episodes. There are countless cameos and some great performances by budding acting stars and older fading away actors in their twilight years.
My observations of the series as a whole is reasonable glittered with my adoration of these stereotypical good guy solving crimes TV shows. It must be the child in me that finds it difficult to condemn anything from this series. There are some episodes which fall flat and some noticeable differences each producer added to the mix. I think the series was enhanced by the varying quality of the writing and direction. I cannot praise the cast any more than I do simply because the glamour and the confidence is seen even when the script lacks lustre. Sue Lloyd is a personal favourite since she represent a type of woman that I’ve always admired even if she was just acting. Steve Forrest with his tamed Texan accent balanced the screen with his charm and innate ability to smooth his way into some very high places. I envy this.
Twas a good time and I shall visit this series again.
Source: IMDB, Wikipedia
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