Friday, October 30, 2009

Intel: IT TAKES A THIEF coming to DVD?

TV Shows On DVD is reporting that they have received information from a reliable source that the late Sixties spy-fi series, It Takes A Thief, will be coming to DVD in 2010. Since there's been no official announcement, though, they're labeling their report as a rumor.

The series, which ran from 1968 to 1970, featured Robert Wagner as Alexander Mundy, a playboy and cat burglar recruited out of prison by a secret agency of the United States government to steal for them. His boss was Noah Bain (Malachi Throne), and Mundy's father - also a thief - made frequent appearances in the form of the legendary Fred Astaire.

Episodes from the series were recently available for free online viewing at Hulu, but appear to be gone now. (Correction: Apparently the episodes are still up on Hulu. I just didn't find them.)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Video: David Hasselhoff "Secret Agent Man"

This is a weird one, as the Hoff interprets the classic Johnny Rivers tune amid some faux Maurice Binder-inspired graphics. Of course, Hasselhoff did portray Marvel Comics' superspy, Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. in a mid-90s television movie (which I have on DVD and should probably review one of these days)...

Weekly Debriefing 014

Begin Transmission:

• Finished watching the fourth season of Get Smart. Having Max and 99 actually get married was a bold move, and allowed the writers to play around a bit with the series format and bring a little "domestic humor" to the show. Obviously, the dynamic between Don Adams and Barbara Feldon changed somewhat, too. I also noticed that there was less repetition of classic Smart bits in Season 4, unlike earlier seasons, where every episode seemed to have a "cone of silence" gag or a "would you believe?" routine.

Good stuff, and it really demonstrates just how far off the mark last year's Steve Carrell version was. I'm looking forward to the retail release of Season Five.

• My weekly Bond movie marathon hits week 23 today with For Your Eyes Only on Blu-Ray. It's my favorite Roger Moore movie (though I really enjoyed viewing Moonraker in hi-def last Friday), so I'm looking forward to watching it again this evening.

• I also finally got around to rewatching OSS 117: Murder For Sale with near-Bond John Gavin. Look for a review here soon.

INTEL: I never watched the show, but according to TV Shows on DVD, the 1980s spy-fi series Scarecrow And Mrs. King, starring Bruce Boxleitner and Kate Jackson, will probably be hitting DVD in 2010.

As I said above, I never watched it. Was it any good? I liked Boxleitner on Babylon 5 and the old Bring 'Em Back Alive show -not to mention TRON! - so I'm curious.

C.O.B.R.A.S. News: The cabal continues its world domination plans with the addition of yet another blog to its ranks. Welcome to Paul Baack and the rest of the crew at the HMSS Weblog. The blog is an adjunct of the Her Majesty's Secret Servant webmagazine, probably the finest online 007 fanzine around.

• Anyway, that was my week. How was yours?

End Transmission.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Review: A MAN CALLED SLOANE - "The Shangri-La Syndrome"

Well, we come at last to the final episode of A Man Called Sloane, "The Shangri-La Syndrome," directed by none other than T.R. Sloane himself, Robert Conrad.

I wish I could say that the series went out on a high note, but "Syndrome" is a rather lackluster affair.

Sloane is investigating the theft of some top secret material from Doctor Karla Meredith's (Daphne Reid) scientific institute. A meeting with one of her (young and pretty, 'natch) researchers is interrupted by an intruder whom Sloane pursues. By the time Sloane gets back, she is dead of apparent old age. It turns out that Meredith is working with KARTEL and an ex-Nazi named (of course) Hans Kruger (Dennis Cole) to clone a South American dictator.

There are some interesting concepts in here - Kruger is being kept young by an age-reversing formula and must stay in a hot environment to avoid reverting his to his true age - but nothing is done with them. There's only one gadget in this episode, and it's rather pedestrian, too.

It's a shame that the series came out when it did. NBC in 1979 was something of a creative wasteland, with network head Fred Silverman desperate to attract viewers to the floundering net. His approach to this was to program shows that were colorful, titillating, and, basically, stupid. This was the season of Supertrain, Buck Rogers In The 25th Century, Hello Larry and Pink Lady & Jeff.

It's also unfortunate that the producers didn't bother to actually give Conrad a character to play. Sloane was Conrad, basically, and was never shown to have any personal life, nor was there any backstory ever revealed for the character. In the pilot film - where the character was played by Robert Logan - Sloane was established as an art and antiques dealer, which at least provided him with a cover for his international travel, and provided a little color. This appears to have been forgotten by the time of the actual series. The character of Torque was badly used as well. A giant with a multi-purpose cybernetic hand should have been a lot more useful and interesting than he actually was. I don't blame actor Ji-Tu Cumbuka, though. He simply wasn't given anything much to do, most of the time.

Anyway, it was fun re-visiting the series. One of these days, I'll get around to reviewing the pilot film, T.R. Sloane/Death Ray 2000.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Happy Birthday, Roger!

Happy 82nd to the man with the longest cinematic run as 007 - not to mention being the definitive Simon Templar - Sir Roger Moore!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The New Men From C.O.B.R.A.S.

I may not have had much time for Spy-Fi blogging of late, but that doesn't mean that my fellow COBRAS (Coalition Of Bloggers wRiting About Spies) have been slacking off. Just check out the blogroll at left and check out their sites for the best in spy-fi news, reviews and opinion.

And speaking of that blogroll, there's a few new additions to the list, as the COBRAS organization welcomes several new members to its ranks.

So, join us in welcoming the UK's Rob Mallows of the Deighton Dossier, Argentina's Johny Malone and his Una Plaga de Espias, and Philippe Lombard of France, proprietor of Quantum Of Bond.

Clearly, the COBRAS are well on their way to world domination, with agents in the US, UK, Argentina, France and Australia... so far.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Weekly Debriefing 013

Begin Transmission.

• Wow. It's been a while since I posted anything substantial here. I've been dealing with some grueling freelance deadlines and other stuff, and really haven't had time to indulge my Spy-Fi obsessions. The only exception is that my wife and I are continuing to work our way through the 007 films, watching them in order, one every Friday evening. This week it was The Spy Who Loved Me, which, in my opinion, is Roger Moore's second-best Bond film. It is also, I think, the best of the "spectacle" Bonds. It's interesting that director Lewis Gilbert made essentially the same movie three times, but I have to admit that while the stories may not be particularly strong, Gilbert really knew how to take advantage of the 'scope frame with some visually impressive compositions and really put the money on screen.

I really miss Ken Adams' sets. That guy's a genius.

• My only recent Spy-Fi purchase is the fourth season of Get Smart, which I picked up Friday evening. This is the season where Max and 99 tied the knot, and I'm really looking forward to watching these episodes.

As I noted with the last couple of DVD Season releases, I'm amazed at how well the comedy holds up overall. Great writing.

• I'll be making a sincere effort to get back to posting more regularly. I have a few films and books to review, and will be getting to them soon.

How was your week?

End Transmission.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

C.O.B.R.A.S. Alert: Mister 8's Len Deighton Contest

While I gear up to get back to regular posting here at the Spy-Fi Channel, I'd like to direct your attention (assuming that you haven't already directed said attention there already) to fellow C.OB.RA.S. site Mister 8, where Armstrong Sabian has been exhaustively examining the phenomenon of Len Deighton and The IPCRESS File - novel and film.

It was supposed to be a month-long project, but Armstrong found so much to write about the book and the movie (starring Michael Caine as reluctant agent "Harry Palmer") that it ran throughout the summer and into the fall.

Now, he's come up with a remarkably interesting and unusual Deighton-themed contest:
So here’s the challenge: Give us a glimpse of what an adaptation of Horse Under Water might look like. Show us a movie poster, a scripted scene, a theme song, an animation, a trailer, a level from a video game, a comic, a selection from a radio play, etc. etc. We’re not too particular. Just get it to us by midnight EST on Dec. 12th by emailing your submission (or a link to your submission) to mister8 (at)! Improve your odds with multiple entries!
Visit the Mister 8 blog for more details, and while you're there, check out the archives.

Friday, October 2, 2009

I Wish I Was James Bond

Really, don't we all? Song by the band Scouting For Girls.

My attentions have been elsewhere, but regular posting will resume soon.