The World Is Not Enough (1999)

Directed by Michael Apted
Pierce Brosnan, Sophie Marceau, Robert Carlyle, Robbie Coltrane, Goldie, Judi Dench as M, Desmond Llewelyn as Q, John Cleese as R, Samantha Bond as Moneypenny, Colin Salmon as Robinson.
Music by David Arnold
Title Song performed by Garbage

The World Is Not Enough is not just the title of this movie, it is also the motto appearing on the coat of arms of the Bond family. From Ian Fleming’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (Glidrose Productions Ltd):
Griffon Or broke in excitedly, ‘And this charming motto of the line, “The World is not Enough”. You do not wish to have the right to it?’ “It is an excellent motto which I shall certainly adopt,’ said Bond curtly.
It’s a strange motto for Bond to have. It is more befitting the type of evil megalomaniac that craves world domination that Bond usually battles, rather than the man himself. But if that’s what Ian Fleming decreed, then so be it.

The film, while still being hugely enjoyable is a bit of a mixed bag. The casting of Denise Richards as Dr. Christmas Jones, a nuclear physicist is it’s biggest hurdle. Richards, as with all Bond girls, is very easy on the eye, but she doesn’t have the acting range required for the role as written.

The film also lacks a good solid villain. Robert Carlyle plays Renard who starts out as an unstoppable killing machine. Unfortunately, he is motivated by his feelings for one of the female characters in the film, which means as the story progresses, Renard goes from being a hardened unstoppable killer to a pussy-whipped henchman. It changes the tone of the movie, and reduces the power and excitement of the end scenes.

The film opens in Bilbao in Spain. Bond is acting as a courier and meeting a corrupt Swiss Banker. His mission is to collect a sum of money which was payed by an English businessman in the oil industry, Robert King (David Calder) for some documents relating to Russia’s oil pipelines. The documents were fake and King wants his money back. The transaction doesn’t go well and Bond has to shoot his way out – but he retrieves the money and returns it to London.

Back at M.I.6 headquarters, Robert King meets with M (Judi Dench) to collect his money. The mission appears to have gone well, and King leaves with case. But inside, the money has been dipped in liquid fertiliser and a miniature detonator has been inserted into the bank notes. As King makes his exit, the money, which is in effect a bomb, is detonated and King is killed.

Bond is the first to realise what has happened and witnesses ‘Cigar Girl’, armed with a rifle, in a boat on the Thames beside M.I.6 headquarters. Bond, logically believing she was the trigger person for the explosion, borrows a jet powered speed boat from Q Branch and engages in a chase along the Thames. Bond finally chases down ‘Cigar Girl’, but by this time she has left her boat and now is in an ascending hot air balloon. As she tries to escape, Bond latches onto one of the mooring ropes and is lifted up as the balloon drifts away. Feeling that she is captured, ‘Cigar Girl’ chooses to put a bullet in one of the balloon’s helium tanks rather than be taken in for questioning. The balloon explodes, ‘Cigar Girl’ dies, and Bond is thrown from a great height onto the roof of the Millenium Dome, where he sustains severe shoulder damage.

Once Bond has recovered from his injuries he is assigned to protect Elektra King, who is Robert King’s daughter. She has now inherited control of her father’s oil business and it is believed that attempts will be made on her life.

Over the years the Bond universe has been subject to silly and inconsistent casting. We have had Charles Grey, Maude Adams, Joe Don Baker, Martine Beswick, Burt Kwouk and Shane Rimmer appearing in multiple films as different characters. In the days before home video and DVD, this wasn’t so much a problem, because nobody could remember the faces of the minor support players. But with the scrutiny that digital age brings, means that inconsistency and poor continuity are blatantly obvious, even to the most casual viewer. Having said that, The World Is Not Enough shows the welcome return of a few characters. The first is Robinson (Colin Salmon), a staff member at M.I.6. His is not an important or flashy role, but it does provide a sense of continuity in the films. Robinson first appeared in Tomorrow Never Dies and continued the role in Die Another Day. More noticeable in his return is the character of Valentin Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane). Zukovsky is a Russian mafia Don and first appeared in Goldeneye.

The World Is Not Enough was also the last film Desmond Llewelyn appeared in as the gadget master ‘Q’. In this film they gave the aging ‘Q’ an assistant, ‘R’, played by John Cleese (R comes after Q in the alphabet, get it?) At the time of the films release, Cleese was inspired casting to take over from Llewelyn. Unfortunately for Cleese, in this film he is simply comic relief (and not that funny either), and in the next film he got lumbered with some ridiculous gadgets (invisible car – my arse!) Subsequently Cleese’s popularity as ‘Q’ waned. It is interesting to note that the ‘Q’ character does not appear in Casino Royale (2006) or Quantum Of Solace.

Onto the Bond girls – if you’ll forgive the clumsiness of that expression! Earlier I talked about how Denise Richards doesn’t stack up as a Bond girl (at least acting wise). Thankfully, Richards isn’t the only girl in the film. French beauty, Sophie Marceau plays the complex Elektra King. Elektra is a fascinating character, and for once – despite every actress’ ascertation that she is different to what has gone before – she actully is different. Italian actress, Maria Grazia Cucinotta has a small but flashy role as a character called ‘Cigar Girl’. She is Renard’s number one henchwoman, and as a bad girl her days are numbered. In fact she doesn’t make it past the pre-credit sequence. Rounding out the United Nations of Bond girls, representing England is Serena Scott Thomas, as Dr. Molly Warmflash (I’m not making this up – that’s her character’s name). Dr. Warmflash is the doctor who tends to 007 after he injures himself during his pursuit of ‘Cigar Girl’.

The film has an interesting, although not inspired collection of gadgets. Once again BMW supplies the car for Bond’s mission, it’s a Z8 Roadster, but it doesn’t get a full workout. The most useful vehicular gadget that Bond navigates is miniature jet boat, dubbed the ‘Q Boat’. This little beast is put to good use during the prolonged pre-title sequence. Bond races around the Thames and even cuts across land as he pursues ‘Cigar Girl’. Like most Bond vehicles, it comes with a selection of guns and missiles, with which Bond can defend himself. For the sequences in the snow capped Caucasus mountains, the villains are equipped with para-hawk gliders, which are like a snow buggy and with a parachute. They can drift from the sky and then land on the snow continuing their pursuit of Bond, all the while peppering Bond with machine gun fire.

While I find The World Is Not Enough to be an enjoyable Bond film, I still still see it as somewhat of a missed opportunity. The film has a good cast, a decent director, and David Arnold’s score is excellent, but still the film just doesn’t quite work. Even though I applaud the attempt to create multi-layered villains rather than cartoon clones of what has gone before, in this instance the duality in these characters only serves to mute the sense of threat or danger that these characters provide, and in turn weakens the film as a whole.

Put into the context of the Bond series, The World Is Not Enough also falls in between Tomorrow Never Dies – which I consider the best Brosnan Bond film but had poor villains, and the abysmal Die Another Day, which had even worse villains. Whatever strengths The World Is Not Enough may have, tend to be lost in this lacklustre period in the Bond cycle. I do not believe Brosnan was to blame. He was a good Bond; he was simply lumbered with poor scripts and miscast supporting actors. It will be interesting to see how the passage of time will treat this film – will it be seen as an interesting blip on the Bond radar, or will it be lumped with it’s surrounding Bond films as a particularly uninspired addition to the Bond canon.

The World Is Not Enough (1999)

Our Man Bashir (1995)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Episode 80: Our Man Bashir
Country: United States
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Alexander Siddig, Andrew Robinson, Avery Brooks, Rene Auberjonois, Michael Dorn, Terry Farrell, Nana Visitor, Colm Meaney, Armin Shimerman, Marci Brickhouse
Music by John Debney

Obviously Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is not a spy show, but for one episode they ventured boldly where they had never been before – back to Earth in the 1960’s. A time when swingin’ sixties dilettantes roamed the globe. The episode starts with a thug wearing an eye patch being thrown through a plate glass window by Deep Space Nine’s resident Doctor, Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig). Today though, he isn’t dressed in his usual Starfleet uniform. He is decked out in a tuxedo, and standing beside him is a svelte blonde in a red dinner gown. With the threat removed – that being the thug – Bashir reaches for a chilled bottle of `45 Dom Perignon. Reflected in the glass of the champagne bottle, Bashir sees the thug regain consciousness and get to his feet. In a smooth fluid movement, Bashir turns and pops the cork on the Dom. The cork flies straight into the thug’s head, rendering him unconscious once again. Bashir quips, ‘Quite a lot of kick for a `45 Dom!’ Then the girl asks his name – the good Doctor responds, ‘Bashir, Julian Bashir!’

Yes, the scene is taken directly from the Bondian cliché book, and that’s the way it should be. For those not familiar with the Star Trek universe, most ships and space stations are equipped with holo-suites – that being a large area where holographic movies are played. These holograms are 3D interactive movies in which the viewer can live and act out the stories contained within. These holograms also contain other virtual characters who will react and respond to the situations that they find themselves in. These holograms are so real, not just visually, but touch, feel, smell, hear, and taste, that they have safety protocols installed so that no one gets accidentally killed. The opening sequence is Julian Bashir ensconced in a holo-suite, living out his very own private Bondian fantasy.

A reoccurring guest star on Deep Space Nine was Andrew Robinson, who played a character called Garak. Robinson is known  to film fans as the psychopath, Scorpio from the original Dirty Harry film, but in this show his character is considerably more likeable. Garak was a Cardassian agent sent to spy on the Starfleet officers on the space station. Over the series, Garak and Bashir formed a loose friendship. Despite this friendship, Bashir is not thrilled to find Garak intruding in his fantasy program. Having someone intrude on your fantasy life is a bit like being caught masturbating. Initially Bashir is furious at Garak and orders him out of the holo-suite, but Garak’s silver tongue persuades him otherwise. Garak promises that he will not interfere – he simply wants to observe. Before the main titles roll, Garak makes one final proclamation: ‘What could possibly go wrong!’

As you know dear reader, that’s the kiss of death in a show like this. When a character says, ‘What could possibly go wrong,’ you know for sure that something is going to go wrong – horribly wrong.

In the real world, a contingent of Deep Space Nine’s crew, comprising of Commander Sisko (Avery Brooks), Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor), Jadziah Dax (Terry Farrell), Lt. Worf (Michael Dorn) and Chief  O’Brien (Colm Meany) are returning for a conference in their space runabout. As they approach DS9 there is a problem with their warp coil (engine, I think). Just as the ship is about to blow, Sisko radios for help and they are beamed aboard DS9. Well almost – they are beamed just as the ship explodes and the explosion causes a malfunction in the transporter. The crew are now just floating bits of information. The DS9 computer is trying to retain their body patterns and neural signatures, but is running low on memory for storing this significant amount of information. The computer searches for a suitable place to store this information until repairs can be made and the only viable solution is in the holo-suite. So the DS9 computer chooses to interrupt Bashir and Garak’s spy adventure. This results in the crew of the runabout now portraying the characters in Bashir’s spy simulation. But to make things even more complicated, even thiose these characters are computer generated, if Bashir or Garak should kill one of them in the course of the mission then the computer would wipe the character from it’s memory and in essence destroy the person playing it. Got that!

Wait. There’s more. Adding one last layer of plot convolution, the ‘safety protocols’ in the holo-suite have been turned off, which means that Bashir and Garak can be killed by the artificial characters.

Once the crazy set up is complete, the rest of the episode is a rollicking spy adventure where our two intrepid heroes, thrust together in a life and death situation must battle the megalomaniacal Dr. Noah and his evil henchmen. I cannot begin to tell you how much fun this episode is. Sure, the set up is the biggest load of piffle – but it’s not really important. It simply serves to place the crew of Deep Space Nine into the middle of an overblown Bondian spy adventure – and what’s wrong with that?

Our Man Bashir (1995)

Our Man Bashir (1995)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Episode 80: Our Man Bashir
Country: United States
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Alexander Siddig, Andrew Robinson, Avery Brooks, Rene Auberjonois, Michael Dorn, Terry Farrell, Nana Visitor, Colm Meaney, Armin Shimerman, Marci Brickhouse
Music by John Debney

Obviously Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is not a spy show, but for one episode they ventured boldly where they had never been before – back to Earth in the 1960’s. A time when swingin’ sixties dilettantes roamed the globe. The episode starts with a thug wearing an eye patch being thrown through a plate glass window by Deep Space Nine’s resident Doctor, Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig). Today though, he isn’t dressed in his usual Starfleet uniform. He is decked out in a tuxedo, and standing beside him is a svelte blonde in a red dinner gown. With the threat removed – that being the thug – Bashir reaches for a chilled bottle of `45 Dom Perignon. Reflected in the glass of the champagne bottle, Bashir sees the thug regain consciousness and get to his feet. In a smooth fluid movement, Bashir turns and pops the cork on the Dom. The cork flies straight into the thug’s head, rendering him unconscious once again. Bashir quips, ‘Quite a lot of kick for a `45 Dom!’ Then the girl asks his name – the good Doctor responds, ‘Bashir, Julian Bashir!’

Yes, the scene is taken directly from the Bondian cliché book, and that’s the way it should be. For those not familiar with the Star Trek universe, most ships and space stations are equipped with holo-suites – that being a large area where holographic movies are played. These holograms are 3D interactive movies in which the viewer can live and act out the stories contained within. These holograms also contain other virtual characters who will react and respond to the situations that they find themselves in. These holograms are so real, not just visually, but touch, feel, smell, hear, and taste, that they have safety protocols installed so that no one gets accidentally killed. The opening sequence is Julian Bashir ensconced in a holo-suite, living out his very own private Bondian fantasy.

A reoccurring guest star on Deep Space Nine was Andrew Robinson, who played a character called Garak. Robinson is known  to film fans as the psychopath, Scorpio from the original Dirty Harry film, but in this show his character is considerably more likeable. Garak was a Cardassian agent sent to spy on the Starfleet officers on the space station. Over the series, Garak and Bashir formed a loose friendship. Despite this friendship, Bashir is not thrilled to find Garak intruding in his fantasy program. Having someone intrude on your fantasy life is a bit like being caught masturbating. Initially Bashir is furious at Garak and orders him out of the holo-suite, but Garak’s silver tongue persuades him otherwise. Garak promises that he will not interfere – he simply wants to observe. Before the main titles roll, Garak makes one final proclamation: ‘What could possibly go wrong!’

As you know dear reader, that’s the kiss of death in a show like this. When a character says, ‘What could possibly go wrong,’ you know for sure that something is going to go wrong – horribly wrong.

In the real world, a contingent of Deep Space Nine’s crew, comprising of Commander Sisko (Avery Brooks), Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor), Jadziah Dax (Terry Farrell), Lt. Worf (Michael Dorn) and Chief  O’Brien (Colm Meany) are returning for a conference in their space runabout. As they approach DS9 there is a problem with their warp coil (engine, I think). Just as the ship is about to blow, Sisko radios for help and they are beamed aboard DS9. Well almost – they are beamed just as the ship explodes and the explosion causes a malfunction in the transporter. The crew are now just floating bits of information. The DS9 computer is trying to retain their body patterns and neural signatures, but is running low on memory for storing this significant amount of information. The computer searches for a suitable place to store this information until repairs can be made and the only viable solution is in the holo-suite. So the DS9 computer chooses to interrupt Bashir and Garak’s spy adventure. This results in the crew of the runabout now portraying the characters in Bashir’s spy simulation. But to make things even more complicated, even thiose these characters are computer generated, if Bashir or Garak should kill one of them in the course of the mission then the computer would wipe the character from it’s memory and in essence destroy the person playing it. Got that!

Wait. There’s more. Adding one last layer of plot convolution, the ‘safety protocols’ in the holo-suite have been turned off, which means that Bashir and Garak can be killed by the artificial characters.

Once the crazy set up is complete, the rest of the episode is a rollicking spy adventure where our two intrepid heroes, thrust together in a life and death situation must battle the megalomaniacal Dr. Noah and his evil henchmen. I cannot begin to tell you how much fun this episode is. Sure, the set up is the biggest load of piffle – but it’s not really important. It simply serves to place the crew of Deep Space Nine into the middle of an overblown Bondian spy adventure – and what’s wrong with that?

Our Man Bashir (1995)

Our Man Bashir (1995)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Episode 80: Our Man Bashir
Country: United States
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Alexander Siddig, Andrew Robinson, Avery Brooks, Rene Auberjonois, Michael Dorn, Terry Farrell, Nana Visitor, Colm Meaney, Armin Shimerman, Marci Brickhouse
Music by John Debney

Obviously Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is not a spy show, but for one episode they ventured boldly where they had never been before – back to Earth in the 1960’s. A time when swingin’ sixties dilettantes roamed the globe. The episode starts with a thug wearing an eye patch being thrown through a plate glass window by Deep Space Nine’s resident Doctor, Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig). Today though, he isn’t dressed in his usual Starfleet uniform. He is decked out in a tuxedo, and standing beside him is a svelte blonde in a red dinner gown. With the threat removed – that being the thug – Bashir reaches for a chilled bottle of `45 Dom Perignon. Reflected in the glass of the champagne bottle, Bashir sees the thug regain consciousness and get to his feet. In a smooth fluid movement, Bashir turns and pops the cork on the Dom. The cork flies straight into the thug’s head, rendering him unconscious once again. Bashir quips, ‘Quite a lot of kick for a `45 Dom!’ Then the girl asks his name – the good Doctor responds, ‘Bashir, Julian Bashir!’

Yes, the scene is taken directly from the Bondian cliché book, and that’s the way it should be. For those not familiar with the Star Trek universe, most ships and space stations are equipped with holo-suites – that being a large area where holographic movies are played. These holograms are 3D interactive movies in which the viewer can live and act out the stories contained within. These holograms also contain other virtual characters who will react and respond to the situations that they find themselves in. These holograms are so real, not just visually, but touch, feel, smell, hear, and taste, that they have safety protocols installed so that no one gets accidentally killed. The opening sequence is Julian Bashir ensconced in a holo-suite, living out his very own private Bondian fantasy.

A reoccurring guest star on Deep Space Nine was Andrew Robinson, who played a character called Garak. Robinson is known  to film fans as the psychopath, Scorpio from the original Dirty Harry film, but in this show his character is considerably more likeable. Garak was a Cardassian agent sent to spy on the Starfleet officers on the space station. Over the series, Garak and Bashir formed a loose friendship. Despite this friendship, Bashir is not thrilled to find Garak intruding in his fantasy program. Having someone intrude on your fantasy life is a bit like being caught masturbating. Initially Bashir is furious at Garak and orders him out of the holo-suite, but Garak’s silver tongue persuades him otherwise. Garak promises that he will not interfere – he simply wants to observe. Before the main titles roll, Garak makes one final proclamation: ‘What could possibly go wrong!’

As you know dear reader, that’s the kiss of death in a show like this. When a character says, ‘What could possibly go wrong,’ you know for sure that something is going to go wrong – horribly wrong.

In the real world, a contingent of Deep Space Nine’s crew, comprising of Commander Sisko (Avery Brooks), Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor), Jadziah Dax (Terry Farrell), Lt. Worf (Michael Dorn) and Chief  O’Brien (Colm Meany) are returning for a conference in their space runabout. As they approach DS9 there is a problem with their warp coil (engine, I think). Just as the ship is about to blow, Sisko radios for help and they are beamed aboard DS9. Well almost – they are beamed just as the ship explodes and the explosion causes a malfunction in the transporter. The crew are now just floating bits of information. The DS9 computer is trying to retain their body patterns and neural signatures, but is running low on memory for storing this significant amount of information. The computer searches for a suitable place to store this information until repairs can be made and the only viable solution is in the holo-suite. So the DS9 computer chooses to interrupt Bashir and Garak’s spy adventure. This results in the crew of the runabout now portraying the characters in Bashir’s spy simulation. But to make things even more complicated, even thiose these characters are computer generated, if Bashir or Garak should kill one of them in the course of the mission then the computer would wipe the character from it’s memory and in essence destroy the person playing it. Got that!

Wait. There’s more. Adding one last layer of plot convolution, the ‘safety protocols’ in the holo-suite have been turned off, which means that Bashir and Garak can be killed by the artificial characters.

Once the crazy set up is complete, the rest of the episode is a rollicking spy adventure where our two intrepid heroes, thrust together in a life and death situation must battle the megalomaniacal Dr. Noah and his evil henchmen. I cannot begin to tell you how much fun this episode is. Sure, the set up is the biggest load of piffle – but it’s not really important. It simply serves to place the crew of Deep Space Nine into the middle of an overblown Bondian spy adventure – and what’s wrong with that?

Our Man Bashir (1995)

Reilly: Ace Of Spies: An Affair With A Married Woman (1983)

Country: United Kingdom
Directed by Jim Goddard
Sam Neill, Jeanne Crowley, Leo McKern, Norman Rodway, John Rhys-Davies, Michele Copsey, Peter Egan
Music by Harry Rabinowitz
Based on the book by R.H. Bruce Lockhart

An Affair With A Married Woman is the first episode of the Reilly: Ace Of Spies Thames television series. Although, based on the biography, Ace Of Spies by R.H. Bruce Lockhart, this series has taken many liberties when recounting the tales of Sidney Reilly’s life of espionage. This may because, Reilly himself is a bit of an enigma. Most biographies on the man differ in the telling of the events of his life. It appears that Reilly was a bit of a ‘story-teller’ and intermingled amongst snatches of truth there was also quite a bit of balderdash. With that in mind, Sidney Reilly’s first encounter and subsequent affair with Margaret Thomas (the married woman of the title) is a bit off the mark. But never let the truth get in the way of a good yarn.

This episode is a bit of a slow starter, and many of the details are deliberately vague so as to keep the viewer guessing who the characters are. Good and bad are not easily discernible at the beginning. But as the story unfolds, character allegiances and motivations become clear.

As this is a period drama, and as I’ve mentioned, based on a true story, there is a sense of realism to the show. The costumes, sets, and art-direction in general, are all very low-key and appear authentic.

The show also does not feature any far-fetched action sequences. In fact, at times it almost seems like the film-makers have gone out of their way not to show any action. Two of the more pivotal and violent scenes take place off screen – we only see the aftermath and the repercussions.

The episode begins in 1901, aboard a train travelling across Russia. The train is stopped by a group of men who look suspiciously like bandits, but they are in fact the authorities. Three passengers are removed from the train – Professor Rosenblum, from Odessa University; Reverend Thomas (Sebastian Shaw), a crusty old pastor; and Margaret Thomas (Jeananne Crowley), the Reverend’s much younger wife. As they are taken away, Rosenblum hides some secret documents in the Pastor’s luggage.

They are taken to Baku where they are interrogated, especially Rosenblum. The interrogator is a man named Tanyatos (John Rhys-Davies), who suspects Rosenblum of some crime but refuses to say what. But as he cannot find any evidence, he chooses to keep him (and Mr. and Mrs. Thomas) under arrest. This isn’t so bad, as the prison also happens to be the local hotel, so all parties are put up rather comfortably – or at least as comfortable as you can be in that part of the world.

Rosenblum knows that it is only a matter of time before Tanyatos finds out the truth so he formulates a plan to escape. This involves slowly ingratiating himself upon Mrs. Thomas. At first, she ignores his advances, but at heart she is a lonely woman who only married the lecherous old Pastor out of convenience – and for money.

Once Rosenblum has Margaret on side, he suggests that one night she comes to him in his room. This, well apart from the obvious, is so that the guards will not check his room that night. If they think he is ‘occupied’ then there is little chance of him attempting to escape. But escape he does, and Mr. and Mrs. Thomas are left trapped in Baku to deal with the aftermath – this entails languishing in prison (a real prison) for nineteen weeks until the British Government can broker a deal.

Back in London, Fleet Street hears the sordid tale of a British agent having an affair with a married woman, and a scandal erupts. Rosenblum conveniently goes into hiding. Meanwhile, the ordeal has taken it’s toll on Reverend Thomas and he has a stroke, leaving him invalided. Margaret is then left to defend her honour on her own. Feeling the heat from the press, the British Secret Service under the leadership of Captain Mansfield Cumming, known as ‘C’ (Norman Rodway) decide to distance themselves from Rosenblum, and claim that he is not an agent in their employ.

But what is all the fuss about really? How come Rosenblum had to get out of Baku so urgently? Well the secret papers which he had stolen outlined Russia’s oil drilling program. Naturally the Russian’s want them back. Through, Tanyatos they expected to retrieve the stolen documents, but once that failed they had to use other means. In London, the Russian’s are represented by Basil Zaharov (Leo McKern) who is a resourceful power broker, who controls his own secret army of minions.

At the end of the episode everything works out well for Sidney and Margaret. Reverend Thomas finally passes away and our scandalous couple get married. At this point, Rosenblum chooses to take Margaret’s maiden name as his surname. He will no longer be Sigmund Rosenblum – but Sidney Reilly. And the adventure is only beginning – Cumming has a new mission for Reilly. It’s in Manchuria, and that’s where he heads next with his new bride in tow.

Sam Neill cuts a fine figure as the man who would become Sidney Reilly. He has a hint of cruelty about him – which was utilised in the third of the Omen films, The Final Conflict. You wonder just how far this character would manipulate people for his own ends. Less successfully cast is Jeanne Crowley as Margaret Thomas. She lacks conviction in her scenes with Neill, and it is hard to believe she has fallen for the scoundrel.

An Affair With A Married Woman is an intriguing opener, but it is far from ground breaking television. Thankfully, the series still had it’s best to come.

Reilly: Ace Of Spies: An Affair With A Married Woman (1983)

Mission Impossible: The Killer (1988)

Directed by Cliff Bole
Peter Graves, Thaao Penghlis, Antony Hamilton, Phil Morris, Terry Markwell, Bob Johnson, John de Lancie, Virginia Hey, Vince Martin
Mission Impossible Theme by Lalo Schifrin

The Killer is the first episode in the revived Mission: Impossible series. Revived? In 1988 there was a writer’s strike and no new product came out of Hollywood. ABC’s answer was to recyle old scripts and they decided to remake the Mission: Impossible series. To confuse matters even further they decided to make the series in Australia. The first year was filmed in and around Melbourne, whilst the next two seasons were filmed on the Gold Coast in Queensland. One of the shows biggest assets is that they were able to acquire the services of Peter Graves to reprise his role as Jim Phelps. Graves is so indelibly linked to this show that his participation indicated that the new series intended to continue in the spirit of it’s predessesor. This episode details how Phelps is called back into action.

The show opens at an ultra-swank cocktail party behind held in an upper level of a multi-storey appartment complex. Amongst the guests is IMF operative, Tom Copperfield (Vince Martin). Copperfield is investigating a shady terrorist, known only as ‘Scorpio’. Scorpio knows that the IMF are on his trail and he wants Copperfield dead. To carry out his dirty work he has enlisted the services of a professional hitman, Michael Drake (John De Lancie). Drake is also at the party with his sights firmly set on Copperfield. What makes Drake such an effective and unpredictable assassin, is that he performs each hit in a completely different fashion. At the party, Drake chooses to use a hallucenegenic dart to bring about Copperfiled’s demise. He fires the dart at Copperfield who then begins to believe he is on fire. Fearing that he is going to be burnt alive, Copperfield runs out onto the balcony and then hurls himself off into the void.

Copperfield happened to be Jim Phelps protegé and friend. His death prompts Phelps to be re-instated as an IMF team leader. His mission, if he chooses to accept it, is to continue Copperfield’s investigation into the mysterious and deadly Scorpio. The only lead that Phelps has is Drake, and he sets up an operation based around the hitman. But first he has to assemble his new IMF team to carry out the mission.

The first member is Nicolas Black (Thaao Penghlis). Black moonlights as a drama teacher and naturally he is a master of disguise. Next is the beautiful Casey Randall (Terry Markwell). She is a fashion designer and the group’s femme fatale. The we have the muscle, Max Harte (Antony Hamilton), who is an ex-soldier. And rounding out the team is Grant Collier (Phil Morris). Collier is a technical whiz, and just so happens to be the son of Barney Collier (Greg Morris), who was a part of Phelps’ IMF team in the 1960’s and 70’s. Once Phelps has his four man mission team, he is ready to engage in the mission.

Sometimes the 80’s seem like the decade that taste and style forgot, and as such, many of the television shows from that era can be hard to watch today. Thankfully, stylistically, Mission: Impossible didn’t deviate too far from the classic template set in the 60’s and 70’s. Sure, there’s the odd poncey hairdo, and dated musical cues, but this show holds up quite a bit better than many of it’s contemporaries – and to be honest, it’s a lot better than I thought it would be.

Mission Impossible: The Killer (1988)

Hannay: The Fellowship Of The Black Stone (1988)

Directed by David Giles
Robert Powell, Charles Gray, Gavin Richards, David Waller, Christopher Scoular, Dominique Barnes, Davyd Harries
Music by Denis King

I did a quick overview of the Hannay series a few years back, but I thought it was worth going back and looking at a couple of individual episodes. I afraid though, that this revisitation hasn’t made me change my original opinion that Hannay is sluggish and lacks atmosphere.

The Fellowship Of The Black Stone is the first episode in this thirteen part series. The show opens in Damaraland S.W. Africa in 1912, or so we are told – it looks like a gravel pit outside London. But regardless, we meet our hero Richard Hannay (Robert Powell) riding a horse through a tortuous sandy landscape. Hiding amongst the sandy peaks is Count Von Schwabing (Gavin Richards) who is brandishing a riffle. As Hannay rides past, Von Schwabing shoots him. Hannay falls off his horse – the wound appears to be fatal. Pleased with his handy work, Von Schwabing scoots out from his hiding place and approaches Hannay’s inert body, then presses a smooth black stone into Hannay’s hand. Naturally he expects Hannay to die from the wound.

Some time later, we join Hannay on a steamer bound for London. On the last night of the trip, Hannay receives an invite from Lord Hazelmere (David Waller) to join him for drinks. While Hannay is enjoying Hazelmere’s hospitality, a gloved figure (we do not see their face) places a wrapped parcel in Hannay’s steamer trunk.

In London, Hannay has an old army acquaintance, Reggie Armitage (Christopher Scoular) who has arranged lodging for him at the ‘20th Century Club’ in Pall Mall. Over a few stiff drinks, Hannay retells the tale of his near death experience at the hands of Count Von Schwabing. Armitage, who it appears is a member of the Foreign Office (or possibly even the Secret Service) confesses that in Africa he has lost five agents and two couriers over the past few months – all of them found with a black stone in their hands.

Later that evening, Hannay unpacks his steamer trunk and discovers the parcel. It is addressed, so he takes the parcel to the address and hands it over unopened. For his trouble he is blackjacked from behind. When he awakens, he is tied to a chair in a stone dungeon with an imposing figure standing over him. The gentleman happens to be a henchman for Von Schwabing who is now operating out of London.

As the story unfolds, Hannay not only ends up involved in a plot by the villainous Germans, but also end up being pursued by Commander Neville of Scotland Yard (Charles Gray), wanted on two counts of murder.

While I profess to having enjoyed all three filmic version of The 39 Steps, I must admit that I find the Hannay series rather cold and lacking atmosphere. The pacing, for this episode at least, is quite okay and the story is a pure ‘stiff upper lip’ British Imperial adventure, but strangely I am not drawn into this world. I want to like the series, but there’s a lack of chemistry happening on the screen. Initially I thought that this was because it was filmed on videotape and lacked visual depth, and that barrier was distracting me – but soon after watching this show, I watched some episodes (quite a few actually) of The Sandbaggers which utilises the same production techniques. Instantly I was drawn into the world of The Sandbaggers – but not so Hannay. I’m afraid, for me, this series just doesn’t work.

To read my original overview of the series click here.

Hannay: The Fellowship Of The Black Stone (1988)