For a brief period, Mr B was author at large for ITC, penning seven novels based on their series. (He wasn't the only paperbacker to do this, but that's by-the-by)
The odd thing is that although most of his tie-in work was for Pan, it was only on the novelisation published by Hodder (who he worked for to a much lesser extent) that he used his own name. The six that were published by Pan came out under the name Robert Miall. I'd love to know if the deals were set up by his agent or by the production company, as this could explain the name/publisher anomaly. Actually, I'd love to know what the working practise was per se. Apologies if you've already covered this, Johnny, but I haven't been back to the JB site for a while!
First things first. The Hodder tie-in was for STRANGE REPORT, and was published in 1970.
The Miall books were: UFO (1970), UFO2 (1971), JASON KING and KILL JASON KING (1972), and THE PROTECTORS (1973). There was also a tie-in for THE ADVENTURER, which was, I assume, the same year. I have all of them except the latter, so I can't say much about that. I did have it at the time, but I was only 8, so don't expect much in the way of a feat of memory!
As it happens, I had all the Mialls back then, as I was a bookworm and was also obsessed by those ITC shows. I also have the three FE Smith PERSUADERS books lurking in a cupboard, though they are pretty dire.
Which the Burke's are not. STRANGE REPORT was a a series coproduced with Arena, the men bhind UNCLE, and it starred Anthony Quayle as Adam Strange, a psychologist and pathologist who worked in an unofficial capacity whenever an oddity or anomaly arose. He had two assistants: student pathologist Hamilton Gynt, an exile from Minnesota, who could handle the action stuff; and Evelyn Maclean, part-time model and struggling artist who rents half of Starnge's large house.
Now, this was my fave series when I was about 8 as it was kinetic, she was pretty (and blonde - the start of a fatal addiction), and Strange bombed around London in an old black cab. What I only came to appreciate in later years, following re-runs on Bravo (and I'd recommend the DVD box, too), was that many of the stories have depth and complexity that takes them beyond the Baker and Berman/Spooner series that were the core of ITC at this time. Many of the episodes deal with men who have psychological issues, and there's a lot about the philosophy of death and murder. Cracking.
As befits such depth, Mr B gives us something approaching a 'proper' novel. The two episodes chosen are two of the more populist - one involving a cult and pop groups, the other being the most straightforward thriller of the run - but the way he interweaves them into one narrative and also syupplies back story for the protagionists - particualrly filling out the character of Strange - is excellently done. A book that can stand up in its own right, and well worth searching out. Finding this in 1988 set me off on buying up old paperbacks again, so it's got a lot to answer for!
The Miall books are smoothly written, and have panache, but are much more superficial and surface, as befits the source material, I guess. Perhaps this was partly behind the pseudonym?
Anyway, UFO and UFO2 take a couple of episodes and interweave them once more. The former has a captured alien, and the storyline that sees experimental pilot Paul Foster see a UFO, get the bit between his teeth, and become Col Paul Foster of SHADO. The latter uses the episodes where the aforesaid Foster gets stranded on the surface of the moon, and forsm an alliance with a similarly stranded alien. Adversity bereeds companionship, and when the alien is killed by a SHADO astronaut, it raises questions about who or what the enemy is... Also included is the episode where a relationship between two SHADO operatives may have caused the inadvertant death of a Mobile crew. Not as slam bang as the first book, but better for it as it reflects that this ws the most adult of Gerry Anderson's shows, and despite critical carping did at least try to tackle something beyond action.
JASON KING and KILL JASON KING... ah, the oppposite of depth! Divorced from the frame of Dept S, the stories were always too flimsy, and King was better as a comment on the action rather than forceful hero. It's a poor viewing experience now, but the books are better. Again, two interlinked episodes, but stripped to the barest of bones, the better for mr B to include priceless Wyngarde dialogue, and add a suitably arch narrative tone that is tongue-in-cheek. Don't bother with the DVD's, search these out instead.
Bloody Wyngarde's got a lot to answer for. I thought being a writer meant being rich, surrounded by gorgeous women, and never doing any work. The bastard...
Ahem, anyway, on to THE PROTECTORS. I would suspect that THE ADVENTURER suffers from the same problems as this book. For a start, the 25 min episodes never allowed for any plot development beyond the obvious, and the characterisation was minimal. THE ADVENTURER looks crap now, whereas THE PROTECTORS just about carries it on the affability of Tony Anholt (an underrated actor), the loveliness of Nyree Dawn Porter (though she was a complete bitch according to someone I knew who was movie publicist), and the sheer charisma of Robert Vaughn.
Unfortunately, this doesn't translate to print. Three episodes instead of two, in the same pages. In truth, four may have been better, as it stretches the gruel far too thin. With no real plot, and little character to work with, Mr B does his best, but it's hard going. I bet he was glad to get this one out of the way. Even pulling out the stops, no-one could make a silk purse from this sows ear. Still, five out of six is pretty good going, and I would recommend all of them bar the last.
There was a re-run of some eps some time ago. Bloody horrible on all counts. Of course it doesn´t help that the dubbing at the time here in Germany gave the series a very forced comedic slant in the vein of the Persuaders. Which they basically re-wrote. Every dialog a dumb pun.
But even straight played I guess it wasn´t a must see.
Ah but you folks are looking at this from a male perspective. From where I was sitting when it was on telly Peter Wyngarde was just plain gorgeous. I always had a thing about droopy moustaches, flares and wide collars! )
Mind you, I bet it looks really dated nowadays!
(BTW Wyngarde was also rather gorgeous as the baddie in the film "The Innocents", and there was another horror film he was in - about witchcraft - the name of which escapes me at present )
Wyngarde played Quint in THE INNOCENTS - a vengeful ghost. He doesn't get very much screen time in fact with Deborah Kerr hogging the camera. The witchcraft film is the brilliant NIGHT OF THE EAGLE - one of his best. I'm also a fan of JASON KING - so ignore the squares.
There's also the little matter of Peter Wyngarde's legendary solo album Rape (RCA, 1970) which was allegedly pulled by the record company shortly after its release (presumably they'd finally listened to it), only to resurface on CD under the title When Sex Rears Its Inquisitive Head (RPM, 2001). From the RPM press release:
"The record's outrageousness often overwhelms what would still be one of the more bizarre episodes in popular music. The listener is unlikely to forget "Hippie And The Skinhead", where Wyngarde reads out a letter written to "The Times" by two Home Counties skinhead girls, or the tale of "Billy the Queer, Pilly Sexy Hippie", sung over an incongruous, Nashville backing. And there's even something for discerning lovers of late Sixties English rock as he takes on the Attack's "Neville Thumbcatch", written by Vic Smith."
Fancy a taster? At least two of the tracks can be heard on YT, the incredulous, what-on-earth-was-he-thinking? title track Rape and Hippie And The Skinhead
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.
Post by allthingshorror on Dec 17, 2008 8:09:51 GMT
I'd love to know if the deals were set up by his agent or by the production company, as this could explain the name/publisher anomaly. Actually, I'd love to know what the working practise was per se. Apologies if you've already covered this, Johnny, but I haven't been back to the JB site for a while
I'll write to John after Xmas - the Miall and Sands books are one we still have to get on to - though I do have something in a letter somewhere about one of the names. Is it Miall?- let me find it...bugger - it's Sands. Oh well, I'll put it up any way.
About Maroc 7 under the Sands moniker
One title I do recall with distaste was Maroc 7. When I had been working as a story editor at 20th Cent. Fox, the screenplay had twice been offered to us, and twice I had turned it down as being twaddle. Then in my early freelance days, some UK company set it up, and Clarence sent it along as a Pan novelisation job. I was always given the right to turn down any adaption I didn't much care for, and I tried to excercise it this time. Clarence pleaded that a really big tie in was coming from the same company, so would I please? I weakened, but was so impatient with it that I managed to get it out in a week, after which my wife had to massage my aching shoulders with Algipan. And the other big tie-in? Never materialised.
Has Jason King ever been released on video, or god forbid - DVD? And regarding ol' Wyngarde - I remember Jonathan Ross playing some of the tamer tracks from that very album and nearly having a hernia while listening to them. Wyngarde - the 'special' genius....
Post by Craig Herbertson on Dec 17, 2008 8:37:12 GMT
Just listened to rape and I would thoroughly recommend it.
This may sound inconceivable but in my youth rape was a bad thing - but not so bad that one could not make schoolboy jokes about it. There was a kind of belief that rape was a sexual overmastering rather than an exhibition of brutal male power - it was enshrined in folk songs that the lone woman could be accosted by a stranger - the scenario went one of two ways. She got pregnant and was kicked out on the streets - or the mysterious stranger turned out to own half of Devonshire and she married him. Clearly this reflected a very real situation.
The feminists managed to lay an emphasis on power: possibly due to the anonymity of modern society - the threat of torture and the very real threat of death for pleasure or convenience was exposed and thankfully rape was seen as the ugly thing it is.
Somehow, almost effortlessly, Peter Wyngarde managed to by pass all reason and sanity, public opinion, good taste, probably several by laws and public commissions, censors and god knows what else, to create the most appalling piece of tasteless crap known to man.
NIGHT OF THE EAGLE is up there with CURSE OF THE DEMON to me - a great British double bill if you are inclined. I know they both feature slightly dodgy effects - the demon and the large eagle - but the imperfection makes films from this era.
Has Jason King ever been released on video, or god forbid - DVD? >>
Yes the series is available on R2 dvd. I'd recommend you get DEPARTMENT S first where Jason King was introduced. He works as an outrageous counter balance to the other characters - fact is he steals every scene but that's Wyngarde for you.