Last updated : 23rd May 1999
|Episode 'Back to Business'|
|Story Synopsis||A meeting of international politicians, convened to discuss the problems of redundant nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands, is the prime target of Bulgarian terrorists. But in their pursuit, CI5 runs into opposition from the Special Branch.|
|Writer||Brian Clemens||Director||Christopher King||Sweden Tx Date||3rd September 1998|
In some ways The New Professionals get off to both a good and bad start. It's good because of the way the actors shape up, bad because the main plot premise is unbelievably unimaginitive and wafer-thin.
However if we can overlook the virtual non-existence of an actual plotline, there is a lot here to encourage. Weber and Wells work well together. Edward is already mastering his own role. And thankfully Lexa Doig’s Backus actually has something worthwhile to do!! (Not that this little run of luck was to last long!)
The opening scenes employed a fairly good incidental theme which led me to think that the show would do well music-wise. WRONG!!
To be honest I didn’t think much of the kidnap scene (where the boys arrive in style by locomotive!). The 'violence' in the scrap was too obviously edited in such as way to appease sensitive broadcasters and the “Who the hell are CI5?” / “They're the best” exchange between the two Feds was such an embarrassingly obvious piece of signposting (no doubt for the benefit of US broadcasters) it was painful!
But I enjoyed the flashback scene where Malone is talking to the new recruits (tragically scissored by some broadcasters). As well as the nice tribute to 'Old Dog with New Tricks', it had some fair new scripting, too.
The entire hospital scene and the ensuing chase is excellent (as, indeed, are many of the action scenes throughout this series). The violence of the shoot-out in the corridor is in direct contrast to that of the kidnap scene. Weird. We also have a brief snatch of old-style banter when the boys argue over who should confront the gunman. The only thing that lets this sequence down is the dreadfully cliched "Never get emotionally involved". And unfortunately we're going to be subjected to it in other episodes.
The car-bomb scene is good fun and gives us some small 'character-building' insights. The one thing I don't understand is that if the bomb is on a timer, not a trembler, why didn't they simply leg it?!
This is the best scene Backus gets in the entire series!! A shame, then, that she ruined it by fainting at the end – I thought she was supposed to be a professional!?!
I really don’t see the point of Spencer having to ask Malone about Backup/Backus. It seems to be another piece of signposting to help those viewers with minimal mental faculties – like Spencer himself, obviously! (Interestingly ARD in Germany cut that scene – clearly they have more confidence in their audience!)
Here's a little contrast to the old series: Malone is not on first-name terms with the Minister – in fact I don't think we ever hear her name. (Incidentally I thought Charlotte Cornwell was pretty good in the few episodes she appears in.) Clearly the days of enjoying a Pure Malt Scotch and a friendly, informal chat with your superior are long gone!
This episode also shows us that there is not only rivalry between CI5 and other law-enforcement agencies, CI5’s once-automatic supremacy is openly challenged (we'll see this many times throughout the series). Gone are the days when CI5 could simply waltz in and take over the show. I like this new 'realistic' angle. In some circumstances it adds to the tension and/or generates humour.
First gaping plot-device: why on earth doesn't Perry simply write down his message?? His handwriting may have been shaky but it would have been far better than drawing an unintelligible picture.
The scene in Keel's apartment was, of course, designed as a further character-builder but was rather too obvious and fell flat (pun intended!). It ruined the flow of the episode, too: the boys should have been checking out the salon, not having a wee nap.
The massacre dream sequence, however, was nicely filmed though, bizarrely, is never mentioned again or explained in the series.
On searching the salon, Keel adopts a camp voice and asks for "One of those curly bubble cuts, please!": naughty Brian!
A couple of terrible plot-holes, though: firstly when the security man checks the trolley, he totally ignores the second most obvious place where a bomb might be hidden!! Also, Malone tells the young policeman that his boss' security has been compromised but warns against revealing this via telephone – yet Malone is speaking to the chap on the phone!?!?!
The explosion scene towards the end is quite well done, though Colin Wells appears to start laughing as he and Weber push the trolley through the window. No time/money for a re-shoot?
The final scene has caused some debate. Some think that Malone saluting the picture of Cowley is a bit cheesey. I liked it, however, because Malone isn't being totally serious: he does it in a slightly tongue-in-cheek manner, as if to say "God bless you, you old so-and-so!". A nice, if all too brief tribute to both Cowley and Gordon. However it would have been nice if we had learned what actually became of the Cow – and, of course, Bodie and Doyle!
For an opening episode this is quite promising. The story, while not highly original, is nonetheless good and works well, being straightforward, plausible, and well paced. The action scenes, which include gunfights and explosions, are well made. Highlights also include a nice car chase.
As the series has moved into the 90's, so have the gadgets – and, thankfully, clothes and haircuts! ;-) Malone, in a more toned-down and less aggressive (or 'mad' ;-) role than Cowley, nonetheless firmly runs the unit. Overall I think Woodward's very good in this role, he's the kind you'd expect to lead such a unit.
The computer expert Backus, also highly efficient in disarming bombs, is likewise good in this episode and out in the action quite a lot. In addition there's also Spencer (no first name), another op in a somewhat minor, mainly HQ-based capacity.
But it is mainly Keel and Curtis who are in focus and in the midst of the action. While they don't have Doyle's and Bodie's special kind of rapport (and don't spend as much time in their car ;-), they function overall rather well as a team here, and their own style of rapport is on the whole promising. And for the record they DO look and not least sound very different.
This episode gives several interesting insights into their personalities as well. While Keel is portrayed as a hot-headed, ex-Navy SEAL who isn't always as emotionally detached as he should be, Curtis is the more cool, level-headed one who thinks things through first. (Well, while Keel's hot temper is nicely exemplified in a confrontation with the SB, Curtis is at least a tad more polite! ;-) There are other little tell-tale signs as well, such as their slightly differing dress codes (although that's not so apparent in this episode). While Curtis is the one more likely to be seen in a suit and strong colours, Keel's wardrobe is more casually toned down in predominately dark colours (to great effect, I might add).
My favourite part is when Curtis and Keel are at Keel's place. Looking around the messy (but IMO nice) abode, Curtis exclaims that Keel is a slob and that even pigs live better! Keel, while making a joke of it, seems genuinely unsure of just what they are supposed to be any more: cops, cleanup men, or maybe legalised thugs? To his surprise Curtis finds out that Keel has been married, and when Keel later takes a nap he – consequently, or habitually? – relives the nightmare of his wife's death. It's a very good scene and Keel in particular is very natural and believable throughout. (A man with a past and a conscience? Now that's quite intriguing! ;-)
All in all I'd say this is a well-made episode, the plot running smoothly and setting a good base. I have to say the guys have swift reactions and move well too! And watch out for funny injokes!
A poor start, with the hope it can get better. It's too early to tell whether the actors fit the main roles, although Lexa Doig already shines as Tina Backus. Edward Woodward is a trifle too gentlemanly, lacking the attitude of Gordon Jackson. There really isn't much difference between Kal Weber (Keel, agent 45) and Colin Wells (Curtis, agent 37) to begin with, although Curtis seems to take more after Bodie and Keel after Doyle.
There are too many predictable "tense moments" in this episode, which is a pity as the stunts are excellent. The electronic score fails to build up the tension of Laurie Johnson's original. The opening title is less streetwise; in fact, the entire episode fails to appear 'streetwise' as producer David Wickes promised.
There are obvious places where the editing has been less than perfect. Continuity is also a problem: Superintendent Leonard's Ford Scorpio seems to turn into a Nissan Maxima for a split-second ...
Brian Clemens' writing is not up to his usual high standard and the episode feels uncomfortably dated and simple. There are too many holes: how does a police superintendent get in the way of a CI5 investigation while the FBI know that the organisation is "the best"? Why does Keel prefer to take a nap while Curtis waits in his home, when they both have information about a salon they should investigate? If they don't go, why doesn't Malone send someone else? Why don't they report their encounter with Leonard like the "real" 37 and 45 do?
Clemens seems to be writing more to children, rather than adults: we do not need as much exposition. We also do not need Keel's dream sequence, straight out of an American soap opera. Another viewer here called that "cheesy".
No matter how much I re-watch the originals, I can seldom an illogical mistake.
However, fans will enjoy a parody of the Bodie–plastic explosive in telephone scene from 'The Purging of CI5', a reference to Martin Shaw's haircut, and a very tasteful tribute to the late Gordon Jackson, of which he would have approved.
The originals gave you plenty of value: episodes like 'Need to Know' seemed to fit a two-hour storyline tightly into one hour. 'Back to Business' is a half-hour storyline dragged out to an hour.
CI5 cars: Nissan 200SX, Mercedes V-class
Spencer - Adrian Irvine
The Minister - Charlotte Cornwell
Superintendent Leonard - Bill Homewood
Friella - Brana Bajic
Sergeant Rogers - Barnaby Stone
Stacey - Constantine Gregory
Mafia man - Dan Pawlick
Mr. Carlsson - Patrick Lyster
Miss Carlsson - Natalie Gimur
FBI agent 1 - Todd Jensen
FBI agent 2 - Andre Jacobs
Teresa - Rika Schwarz
Teresa's father - Paul Tivers
Tom Perry - Owen Oakeshott
Faud - Mario Kalli
Nurse - Karen Hayley
Lyle - Ian East
Burman - Simon Harrison
US delegate - Michael Fitzpatrick
CIA agent Frank - uncredited
CI5 HQ was a constructed set within Teddington studios.
The wedding dream sequence was filmed in Cape Town, South Africa.
The conference venue is called Squerryes Court, located somewhere in Kent.
|BTW||Parts of this episode were filmed in South Africa.|
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