|Introduction to the Show||Episode Guide|
|Top 10 Episodes||Memorable Names & Faces|
|Who Is John Drake?||Essay: "Koroshi" and "Shinda Shima"|
"There's a man who leads a life of danger..." Before Patrick McGoohan sealed his place in the cult TV pantheon with "The Prisoner," he achieved worldwide stardom as John Drake in "Danger Man." Actually created before the advent of the spy craze of the 1960s, the show (renamed "Secret Agent" for the US market, and referred to as such on this page) became one of the finest examples of the genre. While it never achieved the lasting notoriety of "The Avengers," "Man from U.N.C.L.E.," or "I Spy," "Secret Agent" may well, in the final analysis, outshine them all in terms of quality and durability. Due in large part to the influence of its strong-willed star, the show avoided the campiness that characterized many of its contemporaries, and its lead character defied most of the stereotypes common to fictional spies of the day.
"Secret Agent" was actually two separate shows. When first aired in the UK in 1960, it was a fast-moving 30-minute program. John Drake worked for NATO as an intelligence agent, and he was, not entirely convincingly, an American. The show was created by Ralph Smart (who previously had tailored "The Adventures of Robin Hood" for American TV) specifically to be syndicated to international markets, especially the United States. When it proved to be less than a hit, it was canceled after 39 episodes were produced.
By 1964, however, the pop-culture landscape had altered significantly. Both James Bond and the Beatles had taken America (and the world) by storm. All things British were very much in vogue, and suave, charming superspies were a hit. Smart retooled "Secret Agent" and put it back on the air. This time, the show was an hour long, which allowed for more complex plots and richer character development. Drake became a British agent, working for the fictional (if thinly disguised) MI9.
The show was a tremendous success, the theme song became a Top 10 hit for Johnny Rivers, and McGoohan - already a respected and popular actor in the UK - achieved worldwide fame. Two series totaling 45 episodes were produced. Two episodes in color were completed for the third season (the fourth, counting the first incarnation of the show) when McGoohan, sensing the growing repetitiveness of the program, left to concentrate on an idea for a new show: "The Prisoner."
This page is devoted to an appreciation of the 47 hourlong episodes of "Secret Agent." To me, they are the heart of the series. They comprise a television series of extraordinary quality - intelligently written, powerfully acted, snappily directed - not just for its time, but for any period of TV history. Enjoy browsing this site; please let me know if you have comments, suggestions, or additions to its content.
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