A&E Home Video
Cast: Patrick McGoohan
Extras: Alternate Opening, Biography, Still Gallery
A&E Home Video continue their commitment to being the leaders in bringing cult television series to DVD with the release of two new box sets of ’Secret Agent’. This British series was known as ’Dangerman’ in the UK (which explains the title of the British cartoon ’Dnagermouse’), but was renamed for its American debut. In 1965, CBS began airing one-hour episodes of the series and these box sets present the episodes in the order in which they originally aired. Each set contains eight episodes, spread out over two DVDs. In addition to the episodes, each set contains a handful of bonus features. As the show was renamed for American audiences, so a new title sequence was added featuring the hit song ’Secret Agent Man’ by Johnny Rivers. (Sadly, this is the one thing that for which the show is still remembered.) This alternate title sequence is presented on the DVD. Also, we have a biography and filmography of star Patrick McGoohan, in went on to star in ’The Prisoner’, another underrated ’60s show. Finally, there is a small still gallery, featuring images from the show.
Those of you unfamiliar with ’Secret Agent’ may be surprised at how well the show has held up after 35 years. Unlike some other shows from this period, ’Secret Agent’ doesn’t come across as dated due to a relative lack of ’mod gear’. (Actually, the most dated aspect of the show are its Cold War plots.) McGoohan stars as John Drake, a British secret agent, who travels throughout the world on a variety of missions. Drake’s speciality is to assume different personalities to complete his missions, making him a chameleon of sorts. One of the trademarks of ’Secret Agent’ is that Drake rarely uses a gun. Instead, he relies on his charm, wit, acting abilities, and intelligence to overcome his adversaries. The episodes presented here are fun and lively, showing a spirit that can be hard to find on television today.
Each episode on these box sets is presented full frame. The black and white photography looks very good, as there is a nice amount of contrast between the light and dark shades. As is to be expected, there is some damage evident from the source prints, but these blemishes are minimal — typically being limited to minor scratches and white spots. There is a surprising lack of grain to the picture, and the image never goes soft. The Dolby Digital mono audio track provides clear dialogue, with only a subtle hiss audible on the track. Anyone interested in how TV offered an alternative to the James Bond films should check out ’Secret Agent’.