Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, September 16, 2010



After Burke's Law wrapped up its second season, it was decided to turn the show into a spy series. All of the cast members were let go except for star Gene Barry, who was no longer on the L.A. police force but now reported to someone only known as "The Man" (Carl Benton Reid) on his airplane. [The "high tech" aspects of the show had Burke using a kind of pen-like device to unfold the stairs into the airplane!] Burke still drives his Rolls Royce sans driver [talk about keeping a low profile!] but otherwise the production values for the show were very low. Although Burke traveled in virtually every episode to foreign shores, you never got any feeling of being outside Hollywood. Barry played the new version of Amos Burke much as he had the first incarnation. Barry was a master of the withering look, too well-bred to express his contempt in a more obvious manner. The show lasted for seventeen installments.

Despite its flaws, the series was basically entertaining and there were a few memorable episodes. "The Prisoners of Mr. Sin" guest-starred Michael Dunn (so wonderful as Dr. Loveless on The Wild, Wild West) as an Indian bad guy who auctioned off scientists to the highest bidder. "Balance of Terror" had Burke substituting for a courier working for a criminal dictator, and "Peace, It's a Gasser" had peaceniks manipulated by spies who used a gas to make people child-like. The final two-part episode of the series, "Terror in a Tiny Town," was not only the best Amos Burke episode, but was one of the best episodes on series television in the sixties. In this taut and suspenseful story by Marc Brandel, Burke comes to a town where a man (the excellent Robert Middleton) is using mind-control on the citizens -- who at one point come after Amos en masse -- and has also planted a bomb in a radioactive statue, leading to a nail-biting conclusion. The body revolving around and around in the drying machine also packs a small wallop.

Verdict: Super-smooth Barry makes an interesting super-spy. ***.

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