Despite having some of ITC's best talent behind the scenes (Monty Berman, Brian Clemens, Val Guest and more), The Adventurer is probably the company's very worst show from all production standpoints. But, oddly, it also might be their most entertaining! Gene Barry has given my girlfriend and me so many hours of joy watching this series, and that's why his death is hitting me so hard. This website features a hilariously in-depth episode guide to the show, with plenty of screen captures (including the one I borrowed above) highlighting all of Gene's terrible Seventies fashions and choice quotes from the show. Kinggodzillak's writing on the site is funny enough that it can be enjoyed without ever having seen an episode, but it really serves as an essential companion to the DVDs. We always read about an episode there right after we watch it, and rarely have I laughed as hard as I do at the comments on the site. And none of it would have been possible without Gene Barry.
I doubt he'd like the idea of being remembered for The Adventurer (he refused to contribute to the bonus material on the DVD), but the fact is, it's an indelible contribution to popular culture that we wouldn't have were it not for Gene Barry. He makes the show. And, for that reason, the world is a much sadder place to me without Gene Barry in it. Although The Adventurer gets mentioned briefly in both the New York Times and LA Times obituaries, I'm sure very few people will remember Gene Barry for that. But to those who do, one of the episode titles rings particularly true: "Icons Are Forever."
Of course, Barry's Adventurer co-stars probably caught him at his worse: a washed-up American star (prior to his Broadway comeback) stuck in a low-budget British series shooting in Europe. To others, I'm sure he's remembered much more fondly. His children share some lovely remembrances about him in those two obituaries. And he made many more contributions to the spy genre, too, some of which have fared much better than The Adventurer over the years. Among those are the Eurospy movies Moroc 7 and Subterfuge, the TV series that gave birth to Honey West, Burke's Law and its later, Bond-inspired format, Amos Burke, Secret Agent, and the rotating hero adventure show The Name of the Game, which had many spyish episodes.
Gene Barry died at the age of 90 today in Woodland Hills, California. For a more conventional obituary and a great overview of Barry's career, be sure to check out the New York Times. For more on The Adventurer, please poke around that episode guide I mentioned. I've been meaning to write about that site for quite some time, and I'm sorry it was such a sad event that caused me to finally do so. Personally, I can say very honestly that few spy stars have given me as much sheer enjoyment as Barry has. While it may not be for the reasons that he intended, The Adventurer is absolutely essential viewing for fans of the genre.