Danger ManThe Prisoner
PrisonerDanger Man Megaset
In “Fair Exchange”, a female agent who was brutally tortured by a Stasi interrogator sneaks into East Germany to kill the man. Drake is sent to follow and stop her, and if necessary, kill her before she can commit the murder.
The young McGoohan has a strange intensity about him that’s almost unnerving. My girlfriend sometimes looked at his face and said, “He’s like a psychopath, isn’t he?” Kind of, though as the series moves on Drake becomes a more flexible character.
There were some ironies in the production. For example, in the original half-hour series, Drake works for an unnamed subsection of NATO. This is because the producers didn’t think a US audience would go for a British secret agent. The irony is that these NATO episodes did poorly in the US, and almost ruined the show. Only once the second season began, after Bond mania was sweeping the world, and he was working for the British MI9, were American audiences treated to it (under the title Secret Agent, with the Johnny Rivers hit theme song “Secret Agent Man”).
It was a big hit, and deservedly so. It didn’t have the silliness of U.N.C.L.E., nor the preciousness of The Saint. But McGoohan was right to leave the show when he did. The episodes were beginning to repeat, and the final nail was no doubt pounded in when he viewed the 2 color episodes of the fourth season—“Koroshi” and “Shinda Shima”. These are just abominable, mixing a Bondlike villain in a secret Japanese lair with the aforementioned problematic portrayal of Asians.
Though The Prisoner is better known, those interested in tight writing (which The Prisoner sometimes lacked) and a realistic, yet human, portrayal of sixties espionage could do no worse than getting hold of some Danger Man, or Secret Agent, episodes, and giving them a whirl. I’ll certainly be watching them again.