"Every government has its secret service branch. America, CIA; France, Deuxième Bureau; England, MI5. NATO also has its own. A messy job? Well that's when they usually call on me or someone like me. Oh yes, my name is Drake, John Drake."Danger Man
(known internationally as Secret Agent
) was a British down-to-earth spy series made in The Sixties
. Launched in 1960, originally it was going to bring none other than James Bond
to the small screen and Ian Fleming was involved at early stages. However since the rights for Bond movies had been sold, Danger Man was changed into something quite different. It features a superagent named John Drake, played by Patrick McGoohan - also once a candidate to play Bond in the films - who doesn't like gunplay or violence and generally has morals way too strong to make him comfortable in his job. His gadgets and enemies are also rooted in reality.Danger Man
ran for 86 episodes spread across four seasons of uneven length. The first season aired in half-hour installments in both the UK and on CBS
in the US in 1960-61. In this version, Drake is an Irish-American agent working for NATO on jobs considered "too messy" for organizations such as the CIA. Lack of interest by CBS in further episodes resulted in its cancellation and McGoohan went on to sign a contract with Disney
. In 1964, with the rise of Bondmania, a rebooted Danger Man
series was launched in the UK; in this version, now running in higher-budgeted hour-long episodes, Drake is a British agent working for a secret agency called M9, though otherwise the character and storytelling remained the same as before. For US broadcast, the series was retitled Secret Agent
Season 4 was supposed to start the show's transition into color, but after completing only two episodes, McGoohan convinced the studio to cancel
the series, so that he could instead produce a new series, The Prisoner
, which is at least a Spiritual Successor
and maybe even an outright continuation, depending on what you choose to believe.
- Awesome But Practical: Drake's modus operandi.
- Banana Republic: Victoria, among other unnamed third-world countries.
- Breakaway Pop Hit: The international version has the theme "Secret Agent Man" as performed by Johnny Rivers.
- Brief Accent Imitation: lots.
- Busman's Holiday: A running gag in the first season was Drake's inability to actually get the vacation he wanted.
- Wales Doubling
- Catch Phrase: Drake tells people to "Do exactly as he says" often enough for it to be noticeable.
- Along with "I'm obliged" in the first series.
- Celibate Hero: John Drake does not romance women, although many of the women in the series show an obvious interest in him.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Ocassionally happens to Drake or other secret agents.
- Comic Book Adaptation: Dell Comics adapted the original-format Danger Man as an issue of its long-running Four Color anthology series in 1961; in 1966, Gold Key Comics published 2 issues of Secret Agent, based upon the later version of the series.
- Cultured Badass: Drake.
- Darker and Edgier: The first season was hardly a happyfest, but the second was way more depressing.
- Deadpan Snarker: Drake.
- Determinator: Drake. This trait is probably most pronounced in "Whatever Happened to George Foster?"
- Doesn't Like Guns: Drake rarely carries a gun as he prefers to use his wits first and violence secondarily and usually goes to great lengths to avoid killing people, not to mention in many of the situation he goes in undercover a gun would be very suspicious.
- Everybody Smokes
- Fedora Of Asskicking: Drake can often be seen wearing one of these.
- Friend to All Children
- Grey and Gray Morality: It is often pointed out that both sides in a cold war era spy game use the same kind of dirty tricks. He sardonically notes that the double agent he's asked to pursue in "Say It With Flowers" wasn't considered dangerous until he finally went all the way over to the Soviet side.
- Improvised Weapon:
- Knight in Sour Armor: Drake, of course, and some of his fellow agents. His idealism often puts him in conflict with his bosses or other more ruthless fellow agents.
- Master Actor: Drake, of course. The most amazing acting transformation (in this troper's opinion) is when in one episode Drake pretends to be a meek and nervous schoolteacher; he goes from a slump-shouldered fellow with lightly unfocused eyes who sort of tries to huddle into the nearest corner, to the razor-eyed and leonine Drake and back at the drop of a hat.
- No Hugging, No Kissing: Drake does not get involved with women, period. He flirts with them, and they clearly find him attractive, but he is never shown romancing them. One episode, "The Black Book", has him attracted to a young woman, but he explains why he cannot get involved. The closest Drake comes is in two episodes guest starring Susan Hampshire (playing different, but similar characters in each), one of which ends with Drake and Hampshire's character leaving on a romantic rendezvous.
- Qurac: Beth Ja Brin, plus various other unnamed Middle-Eastern countries.
- Retcon: Drake becomes a British agent in the later seasons, after having been an Irish-American NATO agent in the first.
- Ruritania: Slavosk, plus other unnamed Eastern European countries.
- Sharp Dressed Man: Drake usually wears a nice suit, although at one point he is mocked for showing up at a crime scene in a tux.
- The Name Is Bond, James Bond: Drake, John Drake, predating the Bond movies, but not the books.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: To an extent. Most episodes of the series did not involve Drake using deadly force, and an early episode in fact featured him being assigned an assassination and doing so only under protest (and he doesn't carry it out anyway). During the entire run of the series, Drake shoots a man only once (not counting a later episode where he shoots people in a dream/hallucination), and otherwise rarely carries a gun.
- Those Two Bad Guys: Mr. Wilson and Mr. Jones from "The Island".