Retro: our movie & TV vault... a fresh look
at neglected classics and cult favourites
Here we have a couple of 50-minute episodes from the old BBC-tv series created by Tony Williamson,
produced by Verity Lambert, about an end-of-19th-century gentleman adventurer (played by Gerald
Harper), frozen in ice until accidentally thawed in the mid-1960s by demolition work.
A Vintage Year For Scoundrels sets the tone well, showing us how the heroic Adamant operates at the highest levels in Edwardian London, defending royalty and the British realm, before he's captured and summarily despatched forward in time where, after a short period of weakness due to such physical and psychological trauma, he sets about thwarting protection racketeers (a spiteful old biddy leading a pair of thuggish dimwits) intent on getting away with murder.
Our dashing hero is aided in his modern day travails by independent 1960s' chick, Georgina Jones (Juliet Harmer), who becomes Adamant's plucky sidekick and explainer of the swinging era's social mores. Pitched somewhere between the intellectual savvy of Sherlock Holmes, and the physical toughness of James Bond, Adamant is very much a BBC variant of ITV's suave hero, John Steed (from The Avengers), with a swordstick and opera cape. Adamant is the chivalrous protector of noble values and simple morality displaced to a future time where everything he respects is gone and things are changing still. However, by the second episode he has stopped asking for Hansom cabs, established a new secret hideout atop a multi-storey car park, learnt to drive, and acquired a Mini runabout with vanity number plate: 'AA1000'.
Death Has A Thousand Faces takes us off to Blackpool for a commercial land development scam, and a brisk tour of that seaside town's famous 'Golden Mile' (including a wax museum), following the trail suggested by a mysterious diagram found in a stick of rock. There's a Punch & Judy puppeteer, a criminal mastermind with a plot to sabotage the illuminations, and some amusing skits with a waitress and a council official. Of course, Adamant's eventual defeat of the crooks is never in doubt. Shot in black and white, this is hardly essential material for DVD release, but with Brian Clemens among the cadre of scriptwriters and the great Ridley Scott listed as one of the directors, it may find a collectors market niche, despite the sad fact of numerous lost episodes.
DVD extras: exclusive series history (text only) and episode listing, character biographies, photo gallery.
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