Last updated : 9th November 2014
|Story Synopsis||Veteran CI5 agent Barry Martin lends his expertise to criminal elements in order to fund his lifestyle. But forced into murdering a trial witness, the problems snowball for Barry when Cowley becomes suspicious. Bodie and Doyle are assigned to hunt down their friend and mentor but find themselves pitted against a man more highly experienced and cunning than themselves.||Writer||Dennis Spooner|
|Guest Stars||Glyn Owen, Pamela Stephenson, Tony Steedman, Robert Gillespie||Director||Ray Austin|
& Filming Dates
|Block 2, Episode 1
|Original UK Transmission||Season 2, Episode 6
11th November 1978
A wonderful, if flawed, episode though I agree with Sharon it is marred by revealing the killer right at the start. (See Sidenotes below). Despite Barry Martin's (Glyn Owen) treachery, you can't help but like the character, so the story would have worked better if we hadn't known about his actions until well into the story: to be suddenly jolted by the realisation of what he is up to would have been far more effective, I think.
However overall I think this is a superb episode - and certainly Dennis Spooner's best, who later admitted that he found writing for the show amongst the most difficult he'd tackled. How do Bodie and Doyle capture somebody not only as well-trained but possibly even more highly-skilled - certainly more experienced - than themselves? Plus the fact that the lads trust, respect and like Barry – Doyle even sees him as being their "mentor" in some ways. Yes, makes for a great story from that point of view. The final scenes are a psychological stalemate ("I've got the drop on you.") although perhaps aren't quite convincing enough.
The pre-titles sequence is rather padded out for some reason with pointless shots of a newspaper van but despite Robert Gillespie surprisingly having no dialogue as Ballard, he delivers a lovely, nervy, quirky performance which, combined with Laurie's incidental music, has a very Avengers ("old" rather than "New") feel about it.
Glyn Owen as the duplicitous Barry has wonderful chemistry with the three leads: had the show taken a "story arc" approach rather than self-contained plots, he would have been a great addition to the show as a (semi-)regular character, ultimately leading up to this episode. As it stands, he delivers a character whose disposition constantly switches from loveable older colleague to cunning and ruthless killer - perhaps one of the best roles the underrated Owen ever played.
Ruth Pettifer is downgraded to Cowley's chauffeuse. In reality this episode was the first to be filmed for this season and actress Diana Weston was only originally contracted for this one story. Clearly the producers were impressed with her and decided to keep her on for 'Hunter/Hunted' and 'First Night'. Unfortunatelty LWT's usual bungling over transmission order rather spoiled the flow.
At least Pam Stephenson gets a better role this time! Do give her a close check-out – it's worth the effort <G> Sadly this was the last time we saw her in the series :-(
Cowley being caught off-guard by Barry is perhaps the episode's only questionable note, while the cheesy ending involving his beloved Pure Malt Scotch is, an, ahem, "hangover" from the style of the first season. Thankfully, though, very few eps from the second season onwards were afflicted with this.
So much for the excellent plot streak. This one sucks. To give away the villian in the first scene is very poor work. There are good moments but they have little to do with the writing.
For instance: When Bodie (LC) accidently drops his gun from his holster at the gym and Doyle (MS) ad-libs: "Shot your foot off."
For instance: the very realistic tone given by setting a scene in the emergency area of the hospital. The background noises are undeniably those of a working ER.
For instance: Bodie's cream trousers. Do give them a closer checkout. It's worth the effort. <G> Doyle's aren't bad, either. There is one notable camera shot taken of both of them from behind that... Well, watch the show.
When Cowley's injured and both men are waiting anxiously in the hallway, there's some nice unspoken material as they sigh and peer and attempt to peek at their boss and then fall asleep in the hall while keeping vigil.
The way they snap at one another while looking for Barry Martin is also good. They'd be angry and on edge so taking it out on one another is a nice touch.
The scene with the guy at the Chinese restaurant is a cute one.
The camera work while they're on the stairs trying to talk their way into Barry's girl's flat is good as is Doyle's comment: "Never far apart."
Both men are lean and lovely so even if the story line fails to please, they will.
It makes no sense that after Bodie is hurt, Doyle is unable to shoot. That does not work with what we know of Doyle's character.
The camera work there at the finale is painfully awkward. The editing was awful, too.
The silly scene with the grapes and the booze in the hospital is also off – given that one of the trusted agents of CI5 has turned bad and just been killed.
Not a great episode but worth watching if not listening to. Just do lots of fast forwarding and pay no attention to the so-called story.
Oh, yes. In the credits Ruth Pettifer is refered to as "CI5 girl". Well, so much for equal opportunity as seen in 'First Night'. Do we hear any reference to "CI5 boys"?
(And, yes, gentlemen, Pamela does look fetching in this one.)
Barry, single-handedly trouncing Bodie and Doyle during combat training: "You know what the matter is with you two, don't you?"
Bodie: "Yeah – we're outnumbered!"
Barry, reminiscing about his army days with Cowley: "We were fighting the good fight while you two were still in your prams!"
Bodie: "I tried to enlist, didn't I?"
Doyle: "Yeah but him mum wouldn't let him go!"
Bodie: "He's been around a bit, old Barry Martin."
Doyle: "Recruit Number One as far as CI5 is concerned."
Doyle: "This Alex Bolt, should we expect any trouble?"
Cowley: "Only from me if you don't bring him in!"
Doyle: "What was Maggie's surname?"
Bodie: "Don't know - didn't get it."
Doyle: "What about when you were chatting her up?"
Doyle, mock incredulity but with a touch of irritation: "Not even a phone number?!"
Bodie: "Leave off, will ya?!"
In the scene at the mortuary, Cowley examines the corpse of Alex Bolt. It could be a trick of the shadows as Gordon moves in front of him but the "dead" actor appears to swallow or make some form throat movement. (Thanks to Brigitte McKnight).
In the scene where Culbertson is waiting in Barry Martin's flat, there is a close-up of the former with cigarette smoke rising up by his jacket lapel. However it isn't until AFTER this that we see him actually light up! (Thanks to Chris Saffell).
In the hospital scene, we track Doyle past a large glass window in which some of the camera crew are reflected! (Thanks to Colin Ogden)
On the subject of revealing the killer at the start of the episode (as noted in the above reviews), the original script explicitly stated that he should remain UNSEEN by the audience. Why that was ignored by the director is not clear.
This episode was the first to be filmed for the second season and marked the debut of Doyle's Escort RS2000. Notably its sunroof is not present here. It was fitted later when it proved difficult to obtain sufficient daylight levels for camerawork inside the car. So it's a continuity blooper caused purely by LWT's daft transmission order. See the Car Pool page for more info.
Glyn Owen is best remembered for the 1980s nautical soap Howard's Way. Passed away in 2004.
Tony Steedman (Culbertson) was a character actor who would pop up in myriad ITC series during the 1960s, then stuff like The Sweeney. Regularly crossed the Atlantic in the 1980s to appear in rubbish like The A-Team and The Fall Guy but had more success with a part in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. Probably best remembered, though, for his role in the seventies sitcom Citizen Smith where he played Shirley's (Cheryl Hall) dad. Passed away in 2001.
Neil Hallett (David Hunter, head of Special Branch) should be familiar to Avengers fans and, as usual, several ITC shows. His career never took off and he ended up in various sex comedies that the cash-starved British film industry survived on in the late 70s. Passed away in October 2005.
Although this episode was telecine'd through London Weekend Television's Bosch machine in 1991 and used for the six-episode run in the London area in the same year, this is not what we've got with the "BRITE" print used for subsequent UK (satellite) repeats and Contender releases on VHS and DVD. The picture is a bit soft though the contrast is very strong almost to the point where bright areas are almost "whiting out". There is a lot of dirt on the film and several "tramline" scratches. There is a very noticeable colour shift from blue to green then back to blue again during the scene where Cowley confronts Barry Martin in his apartment. The Bosch print used in 1991 - wherever it is now - had a sharper picture.
The "LWT" logo on the end titles of the later "BRITE" print is of an older style which the broadcaster replaced in August 1978 - presumably just after post-production was completed on this episode. As almost all other episodes bear the later design, this signals that the BRITE copy was produced from an older master. Unfortunately it doesn't appear on Network's BluRay version, though it can be seen on their first-season releases.
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