Last updated : 23rd May 1999

Episode 'Phoenix'
Story SynopsisA professional hitman codenamed Phoenix, believed killed in 1981, apparently returns to seek revenge on the men who authorised his assassination.
WriterBrian Clemens DirectorDavid Wickes Sweden Tx Date10th September 1998
Dave's Comment

The body count in this episode is astronomical!! Rather worryingly this is one of the things I like about it as Phoenix walks around gunning down everyone in sight. Certainly on a par with the 1977 season there.

Plot-wise it's one of the best episodes – even if the premise is a tad far-fetched.

Mary Tamm is... not bad for an old'un (please don't tell SuperPam I said that!!) But Michael McKell’s portrayal didn’t make much of an impression on me and he overacts disgracefully in the TV news and final scenes – though in the latter his "where is the justice?" lines are crass, anyway. Some of his diction is poor, too – I struggled to understand what he was saying in some scenes.

Edward is at his best in this episode. Colin and Kal, although not quite as good as the previous episode, still work well together. The banter during the anti-personnel mine scene is reasonable (if a little coarse) and arguably see the pair come as close as they ever get to convincing us they are a team. The later "frogs" exchange in the apartment block is classic Bodie & Doyle.

Phoenix chooses a clever means of escape but it's never explained how he managed to get himself into the coffin undetected in the first place!

Ann's Comment

Interesting idea on the whole in this who's-who cat-and-mouse story, although some parts stretch the imagination: how about a 20-year-old safe-house that's still inhabited by the same person, for instance? Not to mention Keel's and Curtis' unfaltering sense of direction when locating just which building the hitman is on.

But McKell is convincingly creepy as Phoenix, and the story does have its interesting twists. I particularly like the ending, which is most reminiscent of that in 'Long Shot'. Apparently Malone shares Cowley's sense of what fair justice is! :-)

Keel's and Curtis' relationship as a team here is somewhat so-so. While some scenes work rather well, like when the pair stumble across an explosive surprise, others work less well. Backus is predominately grounded by her computer.

There are explosions and several killings but the action-driven violence quotient is not that high, depending on how you see it. Not that I think an episode needs a lot of it to be interesting, mind.

In the personal department, we learn that while Curtis is fond of French Cuisine and 'cuisses de grenouilles' in particular, Keel wouldn't be seen dead eating any part of Kermit. (He apparently doesn't have such qualms about eating parts of Miss Piggy and Bambi, though ;-) Curtis also demonstrates his scholarship to study modern languages wasn't a waste. And while Curtis favours to open a locked door by picking its lock (with modern tools, naturally), Keel knows that a well-aimed kick does the trick just as well if not faster!

What really annoys me, though, is the naming of the character Ingrid Somelson, who plays a Swedish actress turned finance minister. Apart from 'Somelson' not being a Swedish name, can't scriptwriters come up with other first names for Swedish females than Inga or Ingrid?

Jack's Comment

Curtis and Keel put their foot in it again. Keel steps on a landmine this time, and the two CI5 agents are looking anything but professional. The plot is excellent but not ably executed, although David Wickes does what he can to give this episode more of the feel of the originals. It was disappointing to see Tina Backus (Lexa Doig) in the same role as any other CI5 female agent (i.e. hanging around the boss and keeping him posted).

Edward Woodward acts poorly in this episode and appears to lack sincerity. At times he seems to be reading his script, and not acting from it.

Story-wise, there are some annoying moments: why does Backus not let the audience in on the details of her fax? She reads it, smiles gallantly, as does fellow agent Spencer (Adrian Irvine), who has even less of a role than Murphy. The facts outlined in the fax, while they provide the final piece of the story, add so little as to be nearly inconsequential. Again, it was something writer Brian Clemens would not have done in the 1970s; to see this "surprise" device used in the 1990s when audiences have become more, and not less, sophisticated, seems childish.

Rating: 6/10

CI5 cars: Renault Laguna (France) and some sort of weird anonymous Jap saloon.

Cast List Spencer – Adrian Irvine
Phoenix – Michael McKell
Senator Alex Stryker – Michael J Shannon
Margaret Llewellen – Mary Tamm
Commander Gaydon – Jeffrey Wickham
Ingrid Somelson – Gayle Hunnicutt
Newscaster – Douglas Reith
Jennifer – Penny Ryder
Husband – Peter Alcorn
Nurse – Jill Greenacre
Masters – Anthony Etherton
As himself – Paul Green (newscaster)
General Matthew Forbes – uncredited

Click for the complete List of Episodes