18/01/2016

Adam Adamant Lives Season 1 Eps 12-16



12 Beauty is an Ugly Word

“I am the supreme being” declares villain Sinoda in a particularly over the top moment in what is an oddly paced episode. Writers Vince Powell and Harry Driver are best known for comedy so it’s no surprise they have fun with officialdom portraying both a political secretary and later a policeman as inept figures of simple intelligence. They also play heavily on a too often ignored aspect of Adamant’s sense of being out of his time gifting Gerald Harper some lovely arch lines which he delivers impeccably. When for example asked about whether there were beauty contests in his day, Adamant replies, “Only with cattle!” 


What is surprising though is how when required they up the danger ante considerably harking back to earlier episodes where you feel the fights could go either way and our heroes are in real danger. Pleasingly they are just as interested in the agenda behind Sinoda’s plans as witnessed by a strongly played intellectual debate with Adamant.
Proceedings start with the theft of a deadly virus in a bottle with which SInoda plans to wipe out most of the world’s population saving only a handpicked few who are the most physically adept or beautiful. He’ll hide them all on a remote island he happens to have before re-emerging with a perfect population. As Sinoda, Peter Jeffery delivers the series’ most OTT villain yet and that’s an achievement in this show! For all his capering though you do get a sense that he is truly dangerous.
What holds the episode back from classic status are two rather overdrawn sequences which are presumably to pad matters out to fill the running time; a weight lifting competition in particular is as laboured as its participants look. Even so this is a surprisingly engaging episode that mixes humour, danger and some well- staged action in a stylish collision.
 
13 The League of Uncharitable Ladies
Ridley Scott directs this tale of a ladies charity with a sideline in murdering for the cause of peace and from the moment it starts you can tell someone interesting is at the helm. A businessman is followed in London, sunlight flares on the lens and other directors would probably have taken the shot again but Scott embraces such matters. Throughout the episode he employs quirks such as characters looking directly at the viewer, unusual close ups and very busy cameras. He’s clearly on the path to bigger things and seems if anything constrained by the restrictions of a mostly studio bound television show. Yet he makes a virtue out of the main set, an old house familiar to Adamant where the ladies are based.

The staff canteen was busy again
John Pennington’s barmy script has a touch of The Avengers and a heavy dose of melodrama about it and in the hands of a lesser director could be ludicrous. Scott manages to build some tension even when it comes to three robed women pursuing Georgina along a corridor wielding charity lapel pins which naturally have been dipped in poison. It is ultimately this weapon of choice that undermines even the director because there is no way it can look that menacing. When the only man involved starts welding a big shield and club everything seems more tenable. Scott’s on happier ground with the surreal initiation scenes where new members are hypnotised by a revolving metal symbol.
There are some great, over the top performances here and a real sense of the absurd in items like a victim receiving a note inviting himself to his own death. It’s hard not to enjoy the results even if the whole thing seems highly unlikely.
(NB if you’re wondering where episode 14 is it’s the first of many missing episodes of the show, most of which are from the second season) 
15 The Village of Evil
Devilish goings on in an episode that prefigures Midsomer Murders by several decades in its depiction of a quaint English village in which bizarre killings are happening under the guise of something supernatural. In this case most of the inhabitants prefer to don cowls and chant in an old mill than attend the more traditional Sunday service. Ostensibly here on holiday Adamant and the ever loyal Simms find their break interrupted first by the unlikely arrival of Miss Jones and then by the assorted goings on.

Vince Powell and Harry Driver bring out all the trappings of devil worship including white mice, black cats, a goat’s head and perhaps more surprisingly a distinctly moral tone to Adamant who disapproves of the whole thing. The narrative fits awkwardly together especially as nobody bats an eyelid at the fact that multiple deaths are occurring in the village. Of the local bobby on his bike- surely still a feature of Sixties village life- there is no sign. A sub plot involving a boy and his missing mice seems to lead nowhere and no expense is spared just to show the slightly comedic sight of Georgina and Simms at the church service.

Guesting John Bailey puts in a good turn as the seeming avuncular Doctor who turns out to be- ta da- the head of the Coven. It’s a tad unfortunate that eagle eyed viewers may have guessed this revelation as all the other speaking parts have either died or already been seen to be taking part. I did harbour a notion that perhaps Simms was secretly leading a Satanic cult here but that would be too ridiculous even for this series.
To be fair the script isn’t above some levity and the sight of Adamant and Simms having a picnic by the river is both amusing and bizarre. The look on their faces when Georgina shows up on a boat is a picture and there’s a neat gag at the end when they leave her behind. 
16 D For Destruction
In which a disgruntled Territorial Army platoon’s plan to stage a mock attack on a missile base is hijacked by something more sinister. One of the loopiest plots of the series brings the first season to a close with a militarist flourish and a lot of shouting. Preposterous from the start, Tony Williamson’s script is also hugely enjoyable as a trio of well- known character actors try and out -do each other with portrayals of army men. First up is a bearded Patrick Troughton who manages a fair impression of a rather brusque officer whose idea it is to revive Adamant’s convenient commission to the very same regiment albeit from 1902! There have been some mysterious deaths amongst the soldiers which spark his investigation but which remain mysterious as we never really find out why they happened.
"Well I look more silly than you do!"
Never mind because Adamant is soon sporting a Victorian uniform with epaulettes straight from the glam rock era as he takes command pitting him against Iain Cuthbertson’s very Iain Cuthbertsonesque Colonel Mannering. Incidentally the room in which we see the soldiers being drilled is very similar to that used by Dad’s Army and there is a whiff of the other Mannering about the whole caper.
Then we come to Michael Ripper, regular in many a horror movie of the day and here barking every line as loudly as he can. His character is the obviously bonkers Sgt Major Jeffers who has a secret plot to obtain £1m worth of gold by threatening to launch 8 nuclear missiles at London! Surely one would be enough and if he did nuke the capital he wouldn’t get his gold anyway.
It’s (unintentionally I think) hilarious with some well staged nigh time attack antics mixed up with awkward choreography of the climatic sequence. Funniest of all is Georgia’s now near uncanny ability to zero in on the goings on. This week she manages to get into the base and near the end is telling the soldiers the direction to the missile room! The army should just sack all their officers and put her in charge instead!


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