Last updated : 15th November 2015
|Episode 'Dead Reckoning'|
|Story Synopsis||As part of a spy exchange with Bulgaria, Stefan Batak is to be returned to Britain but, as an agent who has frequently "switched sides" during his career, past actions resulted in the elimination of dozens of agents from both the East and the West. Afraid of exposing their own operatives to a man of such dubious loyalty, MI6 asks CI5 to handle the swap and debrief. Meanwhile both countries agree to keep the highly controversial venture secret. However a street shoot-out publicly exposes Batak's presence in London, laying him vulnerable to myriad parties hellbent on revenge... though CI5's top suspect becomes Batak's own daughter! Upon which side of the Iron Curtain do her own loyalities lie? And what motivates her to have her own father killed?||Writers||Robin Estridge (under the pen-name "Philip Loraine"). Rewrites possibly by Ranald Graham|
|Guest Stars||Carol Royle, Derek Godfrey, Alan Tilvern, Milos Kirek||Director||Denis Lewiston|
& Filming Dates
Block 3, Episode 4
|Original UK Transmission||Season 3, Episode 4
17 November 1979
Another espionage story but some clever twists make this a strong episode. Despite its relative complexity the plot is fairly solid. The opening is nicely ambiguous with the strong suggestion that Bodie is going to execute a spy. Indeed the unfolding plot keeps you guessing all the way through.
Fave scenes include the first shoot-out when the lads are transporting Batak across town. I'm not quite sure how Doyley sensed the danger, though, and given the truck driver was part of the caper, why didn't the lads pay any attention to him?
I enjoyed the fight sequence with Doyle and the Bulgarian heavies, too. Despite his hammering, Cowley shows no mercy and criticises him over the quality of the camera footage. But Doyle fires right back: "What did you expect - Cecil Beaton?!".
And there's the occasional burst of humour, too. For example Doyle's comment that Bodie looking after the lovely concert pianist Anna ("good with her hands") is "probably takin' piano lessons!"
For Bodie's "Bulgarian Mojo" joke, see Sidenotes below.
The shoot-out at the end is a little routine and how does Bodie know Anna is in danger?
Overall, though, terrific episode!
Good espionage story. Mostly, the plot works.
Other good things:
Bodie in black again. Too bad he has to spoil it with the Awful Plaid and the Awful Grey Jackets.
Doyle in glasses as "John Hare". A tiger disguised as a pussy cat. Notice the tiny sneer on his upper lip as he does the "Burke and..." put-down to Michael. (I had to have that explained to me: apparently B & H were graverobbers.)
The marvelous line Doyle delivers to Bodie: "You know your trouble don't you? Underneath that hard shell you're just a... great big softie.' <G> Watch their expressions.
Doyle, naked to the waist, holding in his tummy while the doctor examines him. Jeans are a bit tight? Also notice that he winces nicely when prodded. Not stoic, our Doyle.
Bodie does his disgusted tough-guy expression when Anna starts screaming after Michael is shot. He also uses the same "caressing" gesture on her hair that he used on Kathie Mason ('Hunter/Hunted') when he still believes she is a killer.
Carol Royle (as Anna) does an excellent job here and looks quite lovely.
Not so good things:
Bodie is taken by the bad guys far too easily. Big plot flaw given Bodie's history and nature.
Otherwise, I have no complaints.
Bodie, following an assassination attempt by Paul on Batak, over the R/T : "Doyle!"
Doyle: "Yeah - what's 'appenin'?!"
Bodie: "He's got away. What about 'Superspy'?"
Doyle: "Oh, he's alright."
Bodie hears a police siren: "Oh, hello, what's that?"
Doyle: "The sound of a D-notice biting the dust!"
Doyle: "The way you play that piano, you don't need publicity."
Anna: "You think so?"
Doyle, clearly admiring her appearance: "You don't even need a piano!"
Doyle after using the cover of a wedding party to escape Bulgarian heavies : "4-5 to Alpha One."
Cowley: "Come in, 4-5."
Doyle: " 'To love, honour and obey!' "
Cowley, puzzled: "4-5 ?!"
Doyle, shouting: " 'Til death us do part!' "
Cowley: "4-5, you're not making any sense!"
Doyle: "I've just found out I'm married to my country!"
Anna, cynically: "Are you another journalist, like him? [Doyle]"
Bodie: "He's the music reporter."
Anna: "Oh. And what are you?"
Bodie, in the Awful Grey Leather Jacket: "FASHION!! Haute Couture."
Bodie, referring to Anna and Batak: "She clearly doesn't know much about her father. Makes my flesh crawl."
Doyle: "Josef Stalin was a family man!"
Bodie: "Yeah and look what happened to his daughter!"
Doyle laughs: "You know your trouble, don't you? Underneath that hard shell... you're just a great big softie!"
Bodie: "Maybe so... but it's the outside that slays 'em!"
Cowley, having sent Bodie to bring Anna in: "Something's happened to Bodie, I can't reach him."
Doyle, recalling the suggestion that Anna is good with her hands : "Probably takin' piano lessons!"
While transporting they spy across town, Bodie's jacket appears to change. However I don't think this is the case and he's actually wearing his infamous grey one throughout - the lighting conditions on certain camera angles merely make it appear to be a dark colour in certain shots.
A debatable one: despite the Bulgarian involvement in the story, Paul and Michael frequently converse in Russian (eg "Spasiba" - "Thank you"), though there is a suggestion that Batak has KGB connections. This confusion possibly came about between different draft versions of the script when explicit references to Bulgaria were temporarily changed for "East Europe". (Thanks to Annie Routley).
Carole Royle appears again as the unfortunate daughter of a double-agent! She played a similar role in 'A Stirring of Dust'. Typecasting or what??!!
Bodie's joke about his "Bulgarian Mojo" being a "cross between a Force Beam and a poisoned umbrella" are references to the original UK merchandising name for the the Star Wars "lightsabre" toy and the real-life assassination of Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov in London, killed by the use of an umbrella which had had its ferrule dipped in the deadly toxin ricin.
Previous drafts of the script differed significantly to what we see on-screen. Bodie's attitude to Anna was far more charitable, as was hers towards her father and the final showdown took place entirely within the Lodge, involving a firefight between Cowley, Bodie, Doyle, Anna and the Bulgarians...
... Some parts of the final version of the script are accompanied by comments and questions from fellow scriptwriter Ranald Graham. This suggests he was tasked with carrying out the rewrites, although took no credit. Normally at this point in the series' life, any revisions that could not be undertaken by the original writer would be carried out by script editor Gerry O'Hara but perhaps he was busy reworking other stories when 'Dead Reckoning' was being prepared. To confuse matters further, the original author's name, Robin Estridge, is retained on the script but he asked for his on-screen credit to be replaced by a pen-name he often used for his book-writing ventures, Philip Loraine.
In the scene where Michael is driven away from the college in a taxi (with Doyle tailing), the footage "jumps" ever so slightly, indicating that a few frames of the film were cut out at some stage, perhaps because they were damaged. This problem also afflicts Network's BluRay and DVD release, so the problem must lie with the original film negative.
In Contender's video and DVD versions from the late 1990s to mid-2000s, the scenes in the back of the van (with Batak being taken to the press conference) seem to be lit by a small torch! However Network's 2014 BluRay and DVD releases (having gone back to the original film negative) is far better. Either way, it further underlines how poor some of the episode prints were when transferred to digital tape by London Weekend Television in 1992.
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