Adam Adamant Lives Season 1 Eps 9-11

Ep 9 Sing a Song of Murder
The real star of this tightly produced episode is director Moira Armstrong who uses a range of inventive camera techniques, some ahead of their time, to frame each scene uniquely. Rarely does a tv show of this vintage benefit from such strong direction which has the added advantage of making the plot somewhat more credible in realisation than it would seem on paper. Armstrong makes full use of light and shadow, her fight scenes are the best in the series this far and her use of zooms and close ups keeps matters fluid and interesting. She is also very good at suggesting brutality without showing too much. Apart from the sometimes less than smooth glide of the cameras it could easily have been made much more recently.

"Scuse me, is that Instajob? Yes, I'd like to be a pop star this week"
John Pennington’s plot too is imaginative enough to home in on the then still comparatively fresh idea of teenagers being infatuated with music and he adds a sinister criminal mastermind planting subliminal messages into the minds of (impressionable?) young people that makes them go and rob banks. Adam Adamant becomes involved when Georgina and her friends are affected leaving their afternoon party (did people have afternoon parties forty years ago?) to hold up the nearest branch armed with what looks like an old pistol. If the idea seems a little silly then consider it a comment on the fact that for many older people of the time pop music was seen as a threat to ordered society.
The results are surprisingly effective with spy thriller style mixing it up with sword fighting and Sixtires pop. The episode also makes good use of all three principals; even Simms gets out of the house and in on the action.
As villain Melville, Jerome Wills strikes just the right balance while Gerald Harper enjoys an especially good episode mixing dry humour with valiant bravery. OK so Adamant does have his flashback and Georgina does get a job in five seconds flat (she’s a pop singer this week) but when it’s in the midst of such a stylish enjoyable episode somehow you don’t mind.

Ep 10 The Doomsday Plan
Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how old this series is; even the Seventies’ ubiquitous Welsh actor Talfryn Thomas is merely `Man with Parcel` in this episode. Yet some things never date and doomsday predictions is one of them. The barmy Richard Harris is back again to pen an episode that leans precariously close to TV sci-fi with its underground bunkers and plans to cause city wide panic being masterminded by Peter Vaughn with an outrageous stare and even more outrageous beard. As Dr Mort a preacher who claims the end is nigh, Vaughn gobbles up all the surrounding scenery but his plans balance such behaviour by being quite seriously brutal. As mad as `The Last Sacrifice` though we are witness to some brutality especially in a well- orchestrated sequence where a non believer is surrounded by thugs wearing billboards which is inventively shot from above. There’s also a philosophical angle to be enjoyed from Mort’s deliberations on the behaviour of man. Yet it is all as much as a front as Isobel Black’s Samantha who is not actually his daughter at all..
It’s a pot pourri of deliciously arch acting, some James Bond lite quirks (one of the henchmen picks up a cat and strokes it, the underground base sits beneath a dingy church hall) mixed up with hell and damnation church organ belting out doom chords everywhere. To cap it all real newsreader Kenneth Kendall, a BBC mainstay at the time is knocked out and kidnapped. Is there nothing too outre for this show? Well there is one thing; when it’s revealed that a forced transmission break has blacked out the Corporation the script cannot bring itself to use the letters `itv` instead referring to “the other lot.” Clearly some things were still beyond the pale!

Ep 11 Death By Appointment Only
Visiting European businessmen are being killed but the police have no clue so call in Adamant to investigate. Tony Williamson’s plot infers that none of these businessmen are married and all of them seek an escort when in London. It’s all a little demure of course but nonetheless a surprisingly bold plot line even for a year as comparatively liberated as 1966. The twist is that they are murdered by the escort after the brains behind the operation have engineered a shares racket so they gain when the victim dies. Which of course suggests that the death of one man can virtually unbalance a business. The results are nowhere near as dramatic as the idea sounds consisting mostly of overlong sequences of people being charming yet with underlying menace. It’s hard to be convinced by Christine Finn’s flowery villain Pamela Wentworth – Howe who seems incapable of running anything.
The episode does boast enjoyable performances from the leads who seem to be enjoying themselves and Williamson adds witty lines here and there but there’s not a lot of plot for 49 minutes and the result is somewhat wearing only enlivened by a rather brutal fight at the end.

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