Sunday, 25 June 2017

"Oh yes, my name's Drake. John Drake."

A few weeks ago I rashly promised to start a regular blog on DANGER MAN. I removed that promise upon the actual arrival of the DVD collection itself, the very definition of an impulse buy.... a huge box containing 33 individual DVDs of said series. Even if I just blogged each individual DVD rather than the episodes that would still be something of a massive commitment given the... dare I say ‘throwaway’?... nature of the series.

That sounds glib and harsh. What I mean is that each episode is a neat little story... nothing to get rhapsodic about... but each story is damn fine entertainment.

Perhaps unsurprisingly watching it is making me much more confident in my belief that John Drake IS ‘The Prisoner’. People and places pop up in Drake’s adventures with such frequency that it ties in with my theory (not in itself original) that the events of The Prisoner are Drake’s dreamspace analogue to what’s happening to him in realtime.

My theory: John Drake really has had enough of the spying game. Everything in the title sequence to The Prisoner is true... until he hands in that resignation, breaks the tea-cup and storms out of George Markstein’s office. From that point on, what we see is an unconscious/dreamspace version of either what Drake is going through at that moment (time being relative of course) or the undercurrent of his thoughts.

For instance: he quits, but is immediately aware that he could be monitored. Possibly this is no more strong than him knowing they’ll at least want to watch and see if he leaves the country; he certainly doesn’t expect to be abducted. But perhaps a part of him is always half-suspicious he’ll be watched and somehow they’ll try to drag him back in to the great game. The Prisoner is a surreal version of him debating within himself whether his values and beliefs stand up against those of the people he no longer really trusts. Perhaps he does eventually go back, after being tempted by his ‘Number One’, and the events of ‘Fall Out’ mirror his own internal struggle, until he ‘returns’ to where he started.

Where does the Village fit in? He populates this dreamspace with places and people he has seen and met. They take on functions within his subconscious ‘narrative’. The very first Danger Man episode is set in an Italian village (in fact, Portmerion!)... perhaps as the site of his first important/dangerous adventure (after promotion to the field from admin/office-based work?) it has a special importance and he therefore uses that place’s geography to situate his internal struggle? Faces such as The Supervisor come from memories of past cases (Peter Swanick is killed in a pre-credits sequence but in a story involving Drake monitoring security leaks... the Swanick character therefore mnemonically stands in for a character always monitoring No 6’s whereabouts)... people high up in his NATO secret service branch become his double-crossing superiors (in ‘Chimes of Big Ben’) etc etc...

See? It all fits!

You can even retcon the fact of Drake’s having an American accent in this first series as representing his multiple identity struggle.... sort of.

WELL, be this as it may or may not, I’m immensely enjoying watching these episodes. Each is a self-contained story of course but the half-hour stories especially have a real neat ‘punch’ to them that feels like having read a good short story in a well-thumbed thriller/action anthology. The familiar ITC tricks of location footage used as establishing shots works surprisingly well; sets and filming look expensive; the scripts are taut and always performed extremely well; and it has a pleasantly jazzy soundtrack which gives it an atmosphere totally different to, say, the brassy swagger of Drake’s ‘competitor’ James Bond.

I will definitely write more blogs on this as the series’ progresses.... just not 32 more of them.

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