Recommend "The Saint" or not?



  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,410MI6 Agent

    one other foreshadowing of Moore's Bond in this season...

    in A Double in Diamonds (S5E24 5 May 1967) there is yet another jewel robbery, and a replica of a valuable diamond necklace which at one point Templar swaps with the original without telling anybody. Now with all the jewel robbery plots in this series, I'm sure that's not the first time this has happened, but coming right after The Gadget Lovers I was certainly on the lookout for moments our Roger might have been tempted to recycle in his new job.

    Bond swaps the replica of the Faberge egg with the original in Octopussy of course.

    Now having watched so much MooreTemplar, when I next watch his seven Bond films I am going to be perceiving his version of Bond differently. Maybe he's not so much Roger Moore trying to impersonate ConneryBond, but maybe Simon Templar himself has been given the infamous codename! In that Octopussy scene, he is demonstrating the skillset specifically of Simon Templar rather than any established version of Bond! I wonder how many other moves in Moore's Bond films are more Templar than Bond?

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,524Chief of Staff

    Hiding Miss Caruso from M? I'm not sure Sean would have bothered: "Oh, she's right here, sir."

    His attempt at asking Goodnight to sleep with him.

    His whole behaviour with Melina (until the end, anyway) and Bibi.

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,410MI6 Agent

    Templar wouldnt have made that clumsy pass at Goodnight

    funny thing about The Saint: there's a spectacularly beautiful costar in every episode, but Templar rarely seems romantically interested, usually his involvement is very chaste but with courtly charm that women find fascinating. Maybe its because its tv, but he rarely even kisses them.

    In the Man from UNCLE its a running gag Solo flirts with ladies when he's supposed to be working, but its just tv flirting. Whereas in the movie versions of the same stories he sleeps with them, and the innuendos in the dialog are more Adult. So that's what's allowed on tv versus movies. But Templar rarely even seems to flirt with his many beautiful lady friends, very unexpected for Rogers More.


    That clumsy pass at Goodnight is Bonds most pathetic attempt to hit on a woman in the whole series, and she's a coworker! (a direct subordinate too if you go by what Fleming wrote). Imagine if he tried that today!

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,524Chief of Staff

    Fair enough!

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,410MI6 Agent
    edited June 23

    I am still compiling my research for my report on Season 6, but wish to give a special report on the two part episode I just watched:

    The Fiction Makers

    (s6e11 8 December 1968 and s6e12 15 December 1968)

    This was also released as a feature film in the format of the Man from UNCLE films, and has unique opening credits and music, more in the style of The Pink Panther

    this story is very metafictional and has lots of spy spoof elements.

    Begins with Templar at the premiere of a new spyfilm, his inner monolog critiquing the predictability of the fight moves (as some folks do watching Moore's Bond films!). The film-within-the-film is the first in a new series based on the spy novels written by the mysterious Amos Klein. Templar is asked to be a sort of bodyguard for Klein, who turns out to be a beautiful woman (Sylvia Syms). Almost immediately kidnappers show up and take both Templar and Klein prisoner, assuming Templar to be Klein and Klein to be his secretary.

    The evil Mr Warlock (Kenneth J. Warren) is an aspiring supervillian who has based every element of his operation on the writings of Klein (who can therefor predict and outthink his every move). His evil organisation is called S.W.O.R.D. (Secret World Organization for Retribution & Destruction), again from Klein's novels, and he is plotting a Goldfinger style heist and demands the author plan the details.

    Villain's evil headquarters is actually a rural lunatic asylum, so that when they try to escape and tell their story local residents understand completely send them right back where they came from.

    As all the rooms have hidden cameras and microphones, Templar and the real Klein are always on stage being observed by their captors and must stay in character, while the "secretary" eagerly does all the real planning and Templar does the talking (does this relationship foreshadow a futureBond's preBond teevee series? ie Remington Steele?). These two have an excellent comedy rapport, and at one point perform Astaire and Rogers style dance moves (for "two hours") to distract the minions watching the monitors. So there is the film-within-the-film that starts the story, the staged performances for the benefit of the video monitors, the mistaken identities, the fictional spy novelist writing fictional Fleming style spy thrillers, and the elaborate multilayered conceit that allows Roger Moore to act out a version of Goldfinger several years before actually being offered the part of Bond. Thats a whole lotta meta goin' on! Villain even warns Templar to not so much as "arch an eyebrow" or the girl gets it!

    But note for the plot to work, once again it is the villains who are the only people in this universe not to recognise the Famous Simon Templar.

    Since this adventure is about a writer, lets give credit to the actual writer John Kruse, who wrote many of the very best Saint episodes and seems to be the only one Charteris actually approved of.

    Of interest to us Bondfans, Philip Locke (Vargas from Thunderball) plays one of the evil henchmen. Also both the 3D scale model and the laser torture from Goldfinger are replicated.

    IMDB claims this was actually filmed in 1966 but not released in either form for two years, if true why would they have held it back for to years, SpyMania was on the wane by 1968? IMDB must have that wrong.

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,524Chief of Staff

    For another layer of meta, this was novelised in 1968

    (this is one of many covers over the years) and credited to Leslie Charteris. IIRC (it's been decades since I read it) Charteris does give credit to both John Kruse (who wrote the screenplay as you say above) and to Fleming Lee, who did the novelisation.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 1,246MI6 Agent

    IMDB haven't got it wrong. It was filmed at the same time as episodes for season 5 and was slated for a movie release in Europe in 1966/67. Why it didn't happen, goodness knows.

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,410MI6 Agent

    thanks @chrisno1 , that seems so strange as 1966 would have been the perfect year for it. Even if there was a glut of spy spoofs that year it was better than most of them, and cleverly constructed. And it obviously had more work invested in it than the usual weekly Saint episodes, so why set it aside for so long. I wonder what the reasoning was?

    @Barbel yes i see what you're saying, Charteris is taking credit for another author's work (thus his authorship is a Fiction) just as Templar is taking credit for Amos Klein's! but in Templar's case he was just trying to save her life.

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,410MI6 Agent
    edited June 23

    ...and just three episodes later, it's the second feature length Saint episode, again with unique credit sequence and music

    Vendetta for the Saint

    (s6e15 5 January 1969 and s6e16 12 January 1969)

    whereas the Fiction Makers was a multilayered metafictional spyspoof with a Goldfinger tribute at its core, this one is a deadly serious crime saga torn straight from the headlines: Simon Templar travels to Sicily waging one man war on the mafia. Ian Hendry plays the villain, a mafia don next in line to become big boss of all the crime families in Sicily, but hiding a stolen identity which only Templar knows. Steven Berkoff (one of ours) is listed in the cast but I didn't spot him - one of the many mafia goons perhaps?

    Unlike most other Saint episodes this one was filmed on actual location, or near-actual. Filming was done in next-island-over Malta rather than Sicily as the subject matter might not a been too popular in Sicily. Templar has battled the Mafia before: in second ever Saint episode The Latin Touch (s1e02 11 October 1962) he rescued a diplomats daughter who had been kidnapped in Rome. The show was almost immediately banned in Italy for showing the chief of Police in Rome as being in the employ of the Mafia.

    I say Templar is waging a one man war but I oversimplify: this is one of those episodes when he is deputised by official law enforcement. Early on he is arrested by a corrupt local cop, in what appears to be a repeat of the Latin Touch scenario. But then a federal officer walks in to the police station and orders Templar freed, the feds are closing in on this big meeting of all mafia dons and Templar is asked to help. By the end there is a small army gathered outside the remote house where all the dons are meeting. So the makers of the show seem to making up for their accusations against Italian police in the Latin Touch, and once again our modern day Robin Hood has official sanction for his actions.

    TemplarGirl in this story is played by The Lovely Aimi Macdonald (At Last the 1948 Show, hence an almostPython). She was also in the Avengers episode Return of the Cybernauts, where she contributed moments of comic relief in an otherwise more serious episode. Here she is playing it straight and tragic, as Hendry's unwilling moll whom Templar rescues. She still talks like a helium balloon even while playing it straight and tragic.

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,410MI6 Agent
    edited June 30

    I have now completed the final season of The Saint, sad day for me. Here is my report on Season 6.

    Season 5 was evolving towards a full time spy series, and I was hoping this final season would continue that trend. There are a couple spy themed episodes here, but more conspicuously there's some very uncharacteristic sci-fi plots and self-parody more typical of the Avengers, as well as an unofficial pilot for Moore's next teevee series. One thing I like about The Saint is the show has more variety of plots than most other such shows of the era, but some of this season's variations seem like its just lost interest in being The Saint any longer. And a lot more than usual take place entirely within Britain, he's not being very Cosmopolitan in this final season.

    Spy themed stories:

    Invitation to Danger (s6e03 6 October 1968) 

    Templar is picked up by a mysterious woman at a casino, then wakes up to find he has been framed for the robbery of $150,000-. I shall not spoil the twist, but about halfway through this turns into a spy story. Stars both Shirley Eaton (who was also in the first ever Saint episode) and Julian Glover.

    The Organisation Man (s6e05 27 October 1968). Templar infiltrates a private mercenary army in Britain on behalf of the Secret Service. (again, why do these criminals not know Templar is a good guy who helps people when all random civilians know this?). Features a le Carre-esque subplot about a snivelling interrogator who is tempted to change sides.

    At the end Templar is actually offered a fulltime job with the Secret Service but turns it down.

    I want to see a version were he accepts, then is told he will be assigned a Code Name since the name Simon Templar is too Famous for a spy.

    The Fiction Makers see above, a metafictional spyspoof in which Roger Moore gets to act out much of the plot of Goldfinger.

    Where the Money Is (S6 E14 29 December 1968) Not a spy story, but Templar visits the special effects man at a movie studio to request some customised gadgets, specifically a watch which is also an automatic camera. Roger Moore receiving a watch-gadget? we'll be seeing that again! Written by Terry Nation, directed by Moore, with a reappearance from The Fiction Makers' Kenneth J. Warren playing a different character (imdb claims his character is a parody of Lew Grade, if true it is not very flattering).

    other notable episodes:

    The House on Dragon’s Rock (s6e09 24 November 1968) is one of the few written by Charteris, is another directed by Moore. Starts like a British country inn story (a subgenre of this series: Templar stays in posh hotels when abroad but quaint county inns while travelling domestically) then turns into a Doctor Who/Quatermass type sci-fi/horror story involving giant ants.

    The Man who Gambled with Life (s6e18 26 January 1969) another fairly ridiculous sci-fi adventure that would seem more suited to The Avengers. To sum up as concisely as possible, a millionaire scientist is dying and wants to freeze himself til medicine advances enough to save him. He needs a test subject first, and volunteers Templar. Templar even refers to one of the scientist's identical twin daughter characters as Mrs Peel at one point, just in case we think the stylistic similarity is coincidence. And the other daughter wears Kinky Boots.

    The Ex-King of Diamonds (s6e17 19 January 1969)

    This is an unofficial pilot for The Persuaders, with Templar driving to Marseilles and entangling himself in a manly rivalry with a crude loudtalking Texas millionaire. After punching each other back and forth for a bit they team up to solve a mystery and save a girl.

    Said mystery takes place in a Casino where a deposed monarch has organised a game of high stakes baccarat (to which both Templar and Texas are invited) so that he may raise funds for his return to power. To guarantee his win he cheats using an infrared monocle. (does this plot sound familiar?). There is also an opening gag about "nice lines" that Roger would recycle in one of his Bond films.

    Inspector Teal only appears in three episodes this season, after seven in the previous season. At the end of his final appearance, Templar invites him "and do call me Simon" to which Dear Claude Eustace responds "whatever, ...Templar!"

    THE SAINT on TV is a decent fansite with some info on the recurring actors (of whom there were many), the many uses of a few studio sets, and best of all Charteris' opinions on the scripts: he was getting paid good money for script approval, felt his input was being ignored, and is quite scathing. He particularly does not like the recurring plot device where Templar meets yet anther old friend who happens to be in trouble, something I'd been wondering about myself since the very first season: how many old friends does Templar have?

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 1,246MI6 Agent

    I've very much enjoyed reading your takes on The Saint, caractacus. Of course it had to end at some point, but a fantastic and dedicated watch. Thanks for sharing. One day, I too hope to complete such a marathon.

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