Apr 2, 2007

Random Intelligence Dispatches For Tuesday, April 3

Spy DVDs Out Today
Universal releases last year's excellent spy opus The Good Shepherd on DVD today. It's not the expanded version writer Eric Roth promised in November, but it does contain a few deleted scenes (sixteen minutes' worth, to be precise). Hopefully we'll see something close to director Robert De Niro's early 4-hour cut on an eventual double-dip.

And from Fox comes the comedic Donald Sutherland/Eliott Gould reteaming, S*P*Y*S (1974). Hint: It's not M*A*S*H. One of the stranger features is an hour-long documentary director Irvin Kershner worked on early in his career, made for the U.S. government, called The Road of a Hundred Days. In the introduction to the film, Kershner recalls being asked to spy for America while in the Middle East filming! He turned the government down.

New Spy DVDs Coming To the UK
Network has announced release dates for a few of their upcoming spy DVDs. Foremost among them is Danger Man: The Complete 50 Minute Series which presents all the hour-long episodes (which aired in America as Secret Agent) on July 23. Producer Ralf Smart's earlier The Invisible Man: The Complete Series, which was sort of a dry run for Danger Man, arrives two months earlier on May 21. Smart's take on The Invisible Man reimagines H.G. Wells' classic anti-hero as a Cold War asset for the British Secret Service. Both series are already available in the US, the former from A&E and the latter from Dark Sky.

ITC's short-lived The Zoo Gang: The Complete Series, recounting the adventures of a group of aging WWII veterens on the beautiful French Riviera, comes out June 18. Finally, the 1977 UK TV movie Philby, Burgess and Maclean, starring Derek Jakobi as Burgess, is due on July 16. Neither of these is available on Region 1 DVD.

RIP Donald Hamilton
Aintitcool reports the sad passing of Donald Hamilton, author of the Matt Helm series of books. The Helm books were gritty, hard-nosed espionage tales, bearing little resemblance to the silly drunken swagger of Dean Martin's film versions. Hamilton straddled the rift between Mickey Spillane and Ian Fleming, and his creation was sort of a hardboiled James Bond. Hamilton died in Sweden at the age of 90. According to the obit, a final Helm adventure currently remains unpublished.

Rumors continue to persist of a new film series, truer to the source material, but any such films have yet to materialize. The last name mentioned for the role was Las Vegas actor Josh Duhamel.

MI5 Replaces Avengers On BBC America
Variety reports that BBC America is radically overhauling it's schedule, and the first order of business is dumping vintage mainstays like The Avengers, The Saint and The Prisoner. The network's new chief, Garth Ancier, said, "We're undergoing a complete transformation. We've taken shows like The Avengers and The Saint off the schedule. We want to present a view of contemporary Britain. It's what the BBC does best. I'd rather have Wire in the Blood than Benny Hill." Part of the new, younger-skewing line-up is the latest season of MI-5, formerly seen (in an incomprehensibly cut-up version) on A&E.

Young Bond Updates
I'm a little late in the game in doing so, but I finally picked up the new American paperback edition of Charlie Higson's second Young Bond novel, Blood Fever. It's available now at bookstores everywhere. I like this edition much better than the British first edition paperback. It's a quality trade printed on good, heavy paper. (The British one had cheap, thin pages.) It's a good size, and will actually sit open on a table top. If you want to preserve the collectibility of your British version, you have to read it very carefully to avoid cracking the fragile spine. No such precautions are required with this version.
In other Young Bond news, be sure to check out The Young Bond Dossier's amazing gallery of cover art for all the various international editions! It's a truly impressive collection.

Stephen Fry To Write Bond?
Young Bond Dossier also has a truly tantalizing rumor today! They report (while professing no certainty whatsoever) that the one and only Stephen Fry might be the next author of adult Bond novel! (A new continuation novel is planned for Ian Fleming's Centenary next year.) Seeing how well Charlie Higson has done with the young version of the character, it might be a wise choice to pick again from the ranks of the British Comedy Elite (who seem to all be adept at spy writing), and Fry is as elite as it gets. Plus, he's a great writer! Although based on his previous spy novel, The Gun Seller, I'd also love to see his old comedy partner Hugh Laurie take a crack at the literary 007... (Not that he has time for writing these days.)

Moneypenny Diaries on Ebay
Finally, for American readers interested in obtaining the first volume of Kate Westbrook's James Bond continuation series I write about so often here, the first volmes of The Moneypenny Diaries is currently up on Ebay for the low price of $3.50. It beats paying for shipping from Amazon.co.uk! For the record, I am not the seller and have no connection with this auction other than a strong desire to see more readers become acquainted with this fantastic series, which still has yet to see publication on these shores.


Rogue Spy 007 said...

This has to do with BBC America. I think it's ridiculous to drop all those great retro shows, whether it's "The Avengers," "The Prisoner," "The Saint," or "Benny Hill." I love those shows. The Brits did a lot of great shows back in the 60's, etc. I am glad though that they are showing "MI-5." That's a great show, as is "Wire In The Blood." I love a lot of the crime shows that the Brits do. Instead of getting rid though of all those great vintage shows, they need to can all those home improvement shows they run through the ground. We've got enough of those shows of our own. Let's see something different. A British accent doesn't make a home improvement show any different from what we've got on HGTV, etc.

Tanner said...

Here, here! There are WAY too many of those home improvement shows on BBCA; you can't turn on the TV on a weekend and not run into a marathon of 'em! Me, I'd much prefer Avengers to that, but I guess most American viewers feel differently. I do wish that BBCA didn't cut the shows, though. I think MI-5's a great show, but it's sort of unwatchable when chopped down by 15 minutes.