TU: Arrival

Thesis research is going well. This is definitely the most fun I’ve had researching a paper. I’m reading books, both fact and fiction, about spies and spy television. I’ve got my next trip to the library planned (Monday!) to pick up a book by John LeCarre and to return Casino Royale. I hope to find a book about Britain and the Cold War, or at least a European perspective on it. That may prove difficult, but I’ll try my best.

Once I finish this viewing of The Prisoner, I plan on watching a few episodes of The Avengers. I picked up a few DVDs from the library. Should keep me busy for a couple of days.

I’m really hoping that I’m able to get Secret Agent AKA Danger Man from one of the out of town libraries. It has been on my watch list since December. I’ve seen a few of the 30 minute episodes and am anxious to see the hour long ones as well. So many of the academic sources I’ve found on The Prisoner discuss Danger Man as well, so I consider it vital viewing. So vital, I may have to buy the series when its rereleased this fall.

The book I’m currently reading, simply entitled Spy Television is fascinating. It has the history of the different shows and some cultural analysis as well. I intended only on reading the intro, conclusion and the chapter on the McGoohan shows, but going from start to finish–I can’t put it down.

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10 thoughts on “TU: Arrival

  1. If you enjoyed reading Casino Royale, you should love the newspaper adaptations of the Bond stories which were collected into beautiful hardback editions by Titan a few years ago. The reproduction is much, much, better than the artwork has ever seen before, and really captures the sixties spy fever. They really are worth tracking down: from the Bond site there is a small comics section, and I managed to uncover this excellent overview as well. There’s enough reference to the strips now to make your work easier.

    Don’t forget to make at least some attempt to cover The Saint. As much as all of the other spy shows and films had influence, the one show which made me want to learn more about the era has to be The Saint. I’m not the biggest Roger Moore fan, but the cars, the locations (judicious use of stock footage) and the beautiful scores to each episode made the show work. It all hangs together beautifully, and is topped off by some of the best cameos and supporting roles a fan of sixties television could want.

    And Modesty Blaise. Oh yes, You can’t forget Willie Garvin, can you… Or Operation Kid Brother, which had Sean’s RL younger brother in the lead role. Danger: Diabolik, which has probably the best ending of any sixties film, not to mention some stunning visuals throughout. Not sure if it would serve you well to bring up The Man From UNCLE as well, seeing as they are from Ian Fleming’s pen as well *trails off into incoherent babble about old TV shows, strips and films*

  2. Thanks for the suggestions! One of my local libraries has several DVDs of The Saint, so I’ll be sure to watch. If I can find some of the early The Man From UNCLE episodes, I’ll definitely watch those as well.

    I’m looking forward to reading the strips–I love comics. 🙂

  3. Beth,

    I love the Avengers. A couple of my favorite eps are The House That Jack Built, and The Town of No Return.

    The earlier eps with Cathy Gale are really cool, too. But unfortunately, they’re harder to find in good quality.

  4. Seconded on the utter awesomeness of Cathy Gale.

    Can I throw in more suggestions? *grins* You might want to look up the Matt Helm films, In Like Flint (and its lesser sequel), as well as the handful of Nick Fury comics Jim Steranko did in the sixties – they’re American, but the sensibilities and art dynamic is very influenced by what was happening in the UK at the time. The Avengers and associated shows even influenced pop-art painters and lithography, fashion (Mary Quant used a lot of design detail influence in the sixties), music (the OTT weirdness of the spy shows filtered through to bands such as The Beatles), and even into literature – Michael Moorcock seems to have had so much fun writing his Jerry Cornelius stories with an eye on what was happening in other media.

    It is, of course, very, very difficult to say who was doing the inspiring, and who was taking inspiration, because a lot of this was very close together. Television shows would begin before – and end after – the same themes had been explored elsewhere. Music influences would reappear periodically up until the punk and rocker scenes swamped the cultural landscape, and there is a bunch of outside influences to take into consideration as well.
    This sounds like a really fun project. 🙂

  5. So far, it is! I’ve been enamored with 60s music, design and fashion for a while now, not to mention a love of spies and weird stories, so it’s a good match for me. 😀

    Thanks so much again for your suggestions!

  6. Have you ever watched Remington Steele? I think you would enjoy it.

    I was reminded of this by the Spy Television book.

  7. AEW – Remington Steele is not exactly in the same league as the others mentioned, though it does have strong links to the Bond franchise through Brosnan. In keeping with the other suggestions, both The Champions and The Wild Wild West have more claim to be regarded as Spy-Fi than that show. I would even go so far as to include Get Smart (the original show) as one of the real highlights of the sub-genre, despite its natural parody status. The influence on Austin Powers is obvious, and more direct than one might at first think.

    If we’re opening up to the inclusion of later shows, then both Alias and La Femme Nikita have greater claim than Remington Steele. Whatever the popularity of a show is, there is one thing common throughout all the shows which came out of the sixties and seventies dealing with spies, secret agents, covert government groups and individuals working for the greater good – there was always a sense of the other at work. It wasn’t until the relatively straight The Professionals came along that the heightened reality was toned down across the medium. YMMV on that, as Knight Rider and The A-Team were obviously heavily influenced by the fantasy elements of Mission: Impossible

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