Saturday, October 10, 2015

TV review - "Spyforce" ep 18 "The Samurai" (1971) **

A guilty pleasure - the sort of TV show I would have loved, loved as a kid, and while historically extremely dodgy, and extremely, extremely cheesy, is important for nationalistic myth because it does have some basis in truth, and reminds everyone that the Americans did not win the Pacific War on their own.

The series was about "spyforce" an Australian reconnaissance unit along the lines of the SRD, M Special Unit or Z Special Unit, who would do missions behind enemy lines. Every week they would zip in and out of locations that in reality would take weeks/months to get to and engage in plots that felt awfully familiar. The South Pacific settings looked very Sydney and the silliness quotient was high.

And yet... these missions did take place, they were dangerous. The series was in colour, had plenty of action. Jack Thompson was a terrific hero - handsome, cocky, brave - the best on screen handsome leading man in Australia since Grant Taylor. (Rod Taylor and Peter Finch didn't get a chance to strut their leading man stuff in Australia.)

This episode is about Thompson and sidekick Peter Sumner travelling to an island to assassinate a Japanese officer (played by clearly a Maori actor) who thinks he's a reincarnation of an 11th century samurai. That's not a bad idea for a character and I was looking forward to a battle of wills, really exploiting the samurai angle, but writer Ron McLean instead rips off The Most Dangerous Game by having the officer hunt Allied officers for fun (which again is a decent enough idea but more could have been made of it). Thompson takes time out to have a bath with the officer's mistresses.

It's silly but great fun if you're in the right mood.

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