Last updated : 23rd May 1999

Episode 'First Strike'
Story SynopsisWhen a small plane carrying Russian black-market plutonium crashes in the Louisiana Bayou, Keel and Curtis find themselves opposite Slade an ex-army colonel with a mission.
WriterBrian Clemens DirectorHarley Cokeliss Sweden Tx Date15th October 1998
Dave's Comment

Dull storyline. Plenty of gun action and quite violent but little else to stir the senses. (Unless you count the sight of Backus getting to fire a big gun!!)

How does Slade know he and his team are being followed by K & C?

Slade's motivation isn't revealed until right at the end... by which time I couldn't care less. And it was a load of tosh, anyway.

Bleh I'd honestly rather watch Dempsey and Makepeace.

Ann's Comment

One thing about this episode: it has some beautiful guitar music. It also has a realistic plot, an intelligent and well-trained adversary (well played by Pryor), good action scenes and interesting locations. It's also a pretty chilly episode (though that could just be my reaction to the subject matter). It nonetheless has some scenes which, though chilly indeed, are very good.

Keel and Curtis overall act very much like a well-oiled team here. This is most notably when they check out a small fishing camp (a very well-made scene) and when they engage in a shoot-out with some of Slade's men. While moving very well in general, I particularly enjoy their beautiful manoeuvring as they dive for cover they're almost as agile as my cat! ;-)

While this isn't exactly a funny episode (considering its subject), it does have its funny moments such as their encounter with Amy, a hot-tempered young woman working for the local sheriff. A misunderstanding between them leads amongst other things to some sarcastic banter in particular from the wound-up Keel, who (very convincingly so) is anything but amused! ;-)

Backus is also sent into action. While once more being in the perimeter of the 'real' action, she nonetheless proves (again) that she's a fine shot. Malone is very good, particularly in the end.

Decked out in army green for a change (both looking great, Curtis with that windswept hair once again), the boys also have some new toys in this episode, including night goggles and a Magellan Global Positioning System (a hand-held navigation aid). And could that possibly be a (another?) Smith & Wesson that Keel's using?

This episode has quite a lot of violence in various forms, but nothing remotely as disturbing as the cold-blooded manner in which Slade covers up a case of radiation poisoning!

Jack's Comment

Finally, a script by Brian Clemens that doesn't leave viewers screaming about inconsistencies between the original and the new series. CI5's ambit may now be global, but Keel and Curtis are finally portrayed as intelligent, tough agents who make acceptable decisions in the field and don't walk into any traps. Backus' number (53) is revealed for the first time in this episode.

Like most episodes, this one is not perfect. The action is slow to build fans of the originals will be disappointed by that aspect and the first half hour sees Keel and Curtis observing the militia, and not much more.

The rapport between the two is at its best, so far, in this episode. Backus is still underused here, but she sees some action outside CI5's World HQ in London. And finally, a general in the US Army respects Malone which is more than one could say of British politicians or the Police Commissioner in London.

The score is the most disturbing element in this episode. It is neither upbeat nor dramatic, and ruins any suspense that may have been built. Again, a re-arrangement of Laurie Johnson's incidental pieces would have worked better; alternatively, if the composers knew when to stop the music, that would have helped, too. In effect, this series is about how not to score for TV or film! The editing could have been slightly better as well.

Again, most of the episode can be quickly guessed, and it lacks the complexity and action of Clemens' 1970's scripts. Despite that, the conclusion still leaves one surprise. Far from bettering the originals, poorer than many other British series (e.g. ITV's Bodyguards in 1997), but not as frustrating as the first four episodes.

Rating: 5/10

CI5 vehicles: Oldsmobile Aurora (Malone), Jeep Wrangler 4.0 (Curtis and Keel)

Cast List Spencer Adrian Irvine
Colonel George Slade Brett Pryor
Amy Brennan Nina Repeta
General Bramar Terry Loughlin
Lieutenant Nichols Michael Burgess
Carson Frank Hoyt Taylor
Captain Maklin Robert Treveiler
Sergeant Webb Rick Forrester
Sergeant Grant Matthew Williams
Ma Fuller Joanne Pankow
Noah Don Baker
Pilot Cress Horne
Marvin uncredited
LocationsThe Louisiana Bayou part of the story was filmed in North Carolina.

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