Pop Culture/Classic TV

Danger Man (aka Secret Agent Man)

Drake, John Drake

Patrick McGoohan perfected a certain style of TV acting when he starred in the popular ’60s spy thriller TV series Danger Man in the early 1960s. Cool, confident and rarely flustered his character of John Drake set the bar very high for his fellow actors of the genre. Whereas Sean Connery ended up with an over the top portrayal of James Bond, McGoohan’s Drake became even cooler as the series progressed. Finally it morphed into the psychedelic paranoia of ‘The Prisoner’ in 1967, perhaps the most enigmatic TV show to ever air on US Television.

Danger Man episodes are tight, well acted dramas that jump straight into their storylines immediately

. Drake is told what his assignment is and without hesitation he is there on the scene, portraying whoever he needs to whether it be a butler, a scientist, playboy or a double agent. The plots of the series reflect the cold war ear of the times and Drake is frequently battling the dilema of “us versus them”. While the production relied on a number of UK character actors and actresses, you will from time to time see faces that you’ve seen in the many Bond films that were being filmed during the same period.

Like Patrick McGoohan himself the show Danger Man had an interesting story- as a prime time TV show and in its’ eventual demise. After beginning as a 30 minute drama in 1960 it disappeared due to low viewer ratings. American critics felt that it had too many spy cliches and that McGoohan himself was perhaps more interesting than his character Drake. In the wake of the Kennedy assassination foreign intrigue became prominent again in the pop culture mind and Danger Man was resurrected as a 60 minute drama for UK television in 1964. A year later, with a nifty new them song, it returned to US prime time as Secret Agent Man on CBS.

One of my favourite, recently viewed, episodes of Danger Man is the episode ‘Whatever happened to George Foster?”, an intriguing “message” episode in which Drake confronts a powerful member of the UK establishment. it stars Bernard Lee, who you will immediately recognize as M from the Bond movies. Drake outwits him of course- using a clever plan that forces “George Foster” to resign.

Thanks to You Tube many of these episode are avaialble to watch….so jump in and time travel back to a TV series that was well written, well produced and smartly acted by Patrick McGoohan and his generation……be seeing you!