Surprisingly, the original half-hour episodes of Danger Man have been out of print in the UK for quite some time. There was a bare-bones set from Carlton early in the century, but more recently British fans have had to import the Region 1 A&E discs from America. (Beautiful, but also bare-bones.) Now Network is rectifying that. Danger Man: The Complete First Series, containing all thirty-nine of secret agent John Drake's half-hour, black and white adventures, will be out on January 25, 2010. This is the seminal Sixties spy series, setting the template for a decade's worth of ITC shows even before Dr. No hit theaters. (In fact, it was based on his performance as Drake that McGoohan was supposedly considered for the Bond role.) Danger Man was the true beginning of the Sixties spy boom–and it's excellent. The half-hour episodes are my favorites. It was also the first Sixties spy work for such integral contributors to the genre as Ralf Smart (who created the series), Brian Clemens, Robert Shaw, Donald Pleasence, Honor Blackman and, of course, McGoohan. Network's six-disc set is a bit light on extras compared to some of their other ITC offerings (including their version of the later, 1964-68 hourlong series of Danger Man), but still pretty good: you get trailers, image galleries and, best of all, a "commemorative booklet on the making of the series by Archive Television Historian Andrew Pixley." If Pixley's previous "booklets" are anything to judge by, chances are good that this will be considerably more than a "booklet." Pixley's exhaustive histories included in sets like Adam Adamant Lives! or the hour-long Danger Man are full-fledged books, and the definitive word on the series in question. Danger Man: The Complete First Series fills in a crucial gap in Network's fantastic line of ITC titles. Needless to say, it's an essential for any UK spy fan. The set is available for pre-order from Amazon.co.uk for £39.48.
Read my review of A&E's Secret Agent aka Danger Man: The Complete Collection here.