Danger Man, known as Secret Agent in the U.S., was superior to other spies, like James Bond, in at least one way. Unlike the more flamboyant 007, Paul Drake respected the integrity of women, and saw them as something other than merely sex objects. Series star Patrick MacGoohan, perhaps best known to modern movie goers as the mad King Edward in the 1995 Oscar-winning movie Braveheart, had insisted on this. He was reportedly offered the roles of both James Bond and Simon Templar (The Saint) but turned them down because of the womanizing. Also, Paul Drake seldom used a gun. Danger Man was action packed and intelligent. It should be shown in reruns on a detective or spy channel, if one exists.
This early 60s gem of British television (sometimes released as "Secret Agent" in the US) was a well-written and heavily influential series that help launch an entire genre of espionage drama on screens both large and small.
John Drake, the "Danger Man" of the show's title, was the prototype for the James Bond films that followed shortly after the series began. Bond producer Cubby Broccoli was inspired to seek out his own secret agent franchise and settled on Ian Fleming's novels -- even first offering the part of Bond to McGoohan, who turned it down.
Unlike Bond, however, protagonist John Drake is a straight arrow and a bit of a teetotaller. No romance or other distractions for this suave spy; he dedicated every frame to unraveling the latest international incident.
The first season, in a 30-minute black-and-white format, is the most unique and interesting. Each short episode is completely self-contained, featuring a new exotic location and different supporting characters. Happily, not a frame is wasted in the original, tight 30 minute format. Each intricate story is wrapped up in record time, usually to satisfaction. Surprisingly given the short screen time, many side characters -- such as the planewrecked criminals in "The Island" -- are colorful and interesting, while Drake himself remains an appealing enigma. These episodes are highly recommended to students of tight screen writing and directing, or anyone who simply enjoys a clever and fast-paced spy show.
Ironically, later episodes were influenced by the Bond films that had by then begun to appear, and the show converted to a more conventional one-hour color format. These episodes are often still quite good, but are also more conventional TV dramatic fare. The final episodes were often re-edited and redistributed under different names, and are quite disappointing when compared to the thrilling energy and economy of the original series.
Many fans of McGoohan's later series, "The Prisoner," have suggested that the unnamed protagonist of that series is in fact, the "Danger Man" John Drake in later years. Watching both series with this in mind invites new conclusions to many of the story lines.
Danger Man really shows a lot of potential. Unfortunately, the dramatic opening which pulled in until the very end, simply fades out at the end. It's unfortunate but that's a big problem with many shows on tv today.
Danger Man really shows a lot of potential. Unfortunately, the dramatic opening which pulled in until the very end, simply fades out at the end. It's unfortunate but that's a big problem with many shows on tv today. Great start to pull everyone in but botches it up at the end.