Last updated : 27th January 2002
|Story Synopsis||A NATO computer expert is abducted by a Russian organisation called Skorpion, who need him in their plan to seize power in their homeland.|
|Writer||Steven Whitney||Director||Ken Grieve||Sweden Tx Date||8th October 1998|
A reasonably good plot, this one, despite being full of the usual cliches. (Scientist forced to reveal secrets while his beautiful daughter is held to ransom).
Having said that the scenes with Elizabeth Perry and Grant Masters are quite good.
Michael Brandon (who hardly seems to have aged at all since his Dempsey and Makepeace days!) does well, if slightly overplaying the more tense scenes.
The big problem for this ep, though, is that the mid-section is very slow-moving. At least theres a decent shoot-out at the end and we get an attempt to redo a similar scene in 'Killer with a Long Arm'.
This is an interesting episode considering Russia's current economic situation, not least with the latest developments on the Russian stock market. It's also fun to watch former Dempsey and Makepeace crimefighter Brandon in a decidedly much more timid role as Woods, the NATO expert.
While the story is pretty straightforward, and granted not highly original though not far-fetched either, it's nonetheless enjoyable. The action (once on) is good, and Keel's and Curtis' bantering works well this time, with lots of funny dialogue all over. Yeah, even in the car! ;-) Not least they once again act well as a team, picking up each other's signals with no words needed.
For a change there's also a 'female factor' involved, in form of Woods' daughter Gemma: a 22-year-old musical blonde who studies history at Harvard (well played by Perry). Curtis, reading the facts aloud from the brief, is visibly perked up. In response, Keel cheekily wonders how long it's been since Sam got laid. (Well, we're six episodes in and haven't witnessed it yet! ;-)
While Curtis' admiration doesn't pass unnoticed, there's some action of the more violent kind too. Most notably is a scene which reminds me an awful lot of the 'balcony scene' towards the end of 'Killer with a Long Arm' the dialogue itself is strikingly similar to the famous Since when did you miss?!" exchange in the original episode. Highly enjoyable!
Other highlights include learning that Curtis was once an amateur boxer (which explains a lot, Keel jokingly points out). He's quite a magician too: having found a cigarette butt that could be a vital clue, Curtis slips it as it is into his right pocket, yet he retrieves it from his left in a small plastic bag! ;-)
After a faltering start during a small 'undercover' stint, Backus finally gets in on the action for real later on, showing her aim is good in the process.
One annoying thing is the opening scene, where a bomb's timer display mismatches the dialogue throughout. (Sloppy editing?)
Tx date in New Zealand: December 2, 2001
I thought the ones shown during primetime during the first run of six episodes was bad, but this, the seventh to air in New Zealand, now that The New Professionals returns after a two-year absence (it's now December 2001) and in a late-night slot on an insignificant network, took the cake for worst episode ever. For some reason there was an Adult Only rating.
There's a hint of the 'Killer with a Long Arm' argument at the end and the interaction between Curtis and Keel is improved. Even Edward Woodward, whom I criticized heavily for 'Back to Business', seems to have relaxed into his Malone role. Backus seems more happy to be in the field and part of the team. So good marks go to the actors, almost believable as a new CI5 unit. It's easy to rank this as good given the crap that's on television nowadays but compared with Bodyguards and other recent action series, including other episodes within TNP that I didn't rank highly, 'Skorpion' was tiresome, drawn out and dull.
Surprisingly, I found the scenes with Michael Brandon and Elizabeth Perry some of the most repetitive. Perry acted particularly well but the lame-duck script and BUGS-like direction (bloody hell, another countdown, oh dear will they make it?) could not have saved 'Skorpion'. And since when did CI5 agents become scared of the police? I had expected Curtis and Keel to show the cops their 'fine print' at the marina. This episode deserved its midnight timeslot.
Summary: BUGS with guns.
CI5 cars: Nissan 200 SX, Mercedes V-class, Hyundai Sonata Mk III for unmarked car at end
Dr Jeremy Woods Michael Brandon
Gemma is staying at the Marriott Hotel in Slough.
She and her father are held prisoner in, surprisingly, Normansfield Hospital, Teddington.
The marina is at Shepperton.
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