The Name of the Game

Season 1 Episode 11

The White Birch

Aired Friday 8:30 PM Nov 29, 1968 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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  • As the Russian tanks invade Czechoslovakia in August, 1968, Glenn Howard has the chance to smuggle out of the country an inflammatory manuscript by a famous writer.

    This was an atrocious episode, and coming only three months after the whole world had been horrified by the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, it seemed appallingly exploitative and tasteless. For a time, it looked as if World War III might be starting, and we got this dumb, cliched piece of simplistic Cold War propaganda. The episode actually has nothing whatever to do with Czechoslovakia - it's inspired by the story of how Italian publisher Feltrinelli smuggled the manuscript of "Doctor Zhivago" out of Russia - and the script was clearly subjected to a few, small last-minute alterations to adapt it to the Czech situation. The famous writer is called "Mikhail Orlov" - a Russian, not Czech, name. The other Czech characters are the usual "Russki" stereotypes. There is an excellent performance by Boris Karloff (very near the end of his life) as the novelist, but he is required to play a cliche. No-one British will be able to accept Roddy McDowall's dreadful performance as a Carnaby Street-clad swinging Londoner!