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 Review of The Night of the Turncoat
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couldron
SS novice field agent

1438 Posts

Posted - 03/05/2006 :  13:21:47  Show Profile


This episode is another of my favorites.

Poor Jim has someone unknown making his life difficult. So difficult that he wonders who the reflection in the mirror is. The same mysterious woman shows up and eventually leads Artie to the tattoo house in which Jim disappears. I like the contrast of the two women. Both women end up helping Jim and each reflects the type of women they are. Crystal is perhaps one of the evilest of the women on the series and Song is one of the sweetest. Crystal’s help is for profit and like Fatal Trap promises her a share of what he will get in exchange for vital information.

Calamander is one of the most interesting villains of the series. Replacing the pronoun I with “one” might become annoying but it never does and it is so infectious that Jim starts using it too. Calamander is by his accounts at the top of his profession yet no one has ever heard of him. His tricks on Jim have a purpose that keeps us guessing and even when we think we know what it is, we don’t. Did he think that Jim was a traitor? I doubt it. He was trying to play him all the way.

We are led to believe that Jim has really been caned but it is only a plot to find out what is behind the things that are happening. I was amused that Jim was accused of welshing on a gambling debt. In a Thousand Eyes, it was stated that it was against department policy for the agents to gamble.

Poor Artie has his troubles to with getting an unwanted tattoo and getting shoved around by Calamander’s boys. He gets his revenge as a mail carrier. This character is maddeningly hilarious. Those poor men trying to get one little package. There are times that I feel I have run into this character at my post office.

Colonel Richmond is in a very military mood using three military terms. He tells Jim at ease, that’s an order and as you were mister. I don’t know why this fascinates me but it does.

I hate the tag and for that I remove one smiley but I return it for the frog man.


Desert Roger
SS novice field agent

4350 Posts

Posted - 03/05/2006 :  13:33:37  Show Profile  Visit Desert Roger's Homepage
the frog man and Jim's quick drying hair were two funny parts of this episode
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ccb
SS Quizmaster Emeritus

3799 Posts

Posted - 03/05/2006 :  15:50:14  Show Profile
"The Turncoat" is an episode I wish I could like more. It opens with a lightning–fast, crackling good teaser and first act. It features one of my favorite character actors of that era, John McGiver, who mastered both serious drama and buffoonery with equal aplomb. Marj Dusay is also a cut above the typical West woman. The show was scripted by Leigh Chapman, who gave us "The Vicious Valentine," from a story by Robinson–Silverman, who gave us "The Hangman." The illuminated blow-up of art director Craig Smith's map (Act III) is very nice. This show should have winner all over it, and, for couldron, it does. For me, it's a disappointing abundance of talent that could have been better than it is.

My reasons are two: (1) death by cliché and (2) sloppiness of execution.

(1) Cliché: For me, the episode really clicks for as long as West is the mark of a well orchestrated sting, and we neither know why it's happening nor can be sure if his superiors are gulled. Those are new twists for the series, and they fascinate. As early as Act II, however, everything is resolved. All of the characters in the story have settled into predictable grooves—the villains are dense, the good-guys clever, the Oriental eye-candy exists only to pull West's fat out of the fire (the beginning of Act III)—and the remaining forty-five minutes play out as a fairly straightforward caper.

(2) Sloppiness across the board: Conrad's infamous "wet-look/dry-look" in Act III are symptoms of a larger carelessness in production. How did West communicate to Artemus time and place of the dinner where he would leave vital information about what the villains were up to? (We're never told.) When West escapes drowning by breaking into the offshore tank (Act IV), why does its interior look exactly like the lake he dove into in Act III? (Because they didn't want to spend the money to differentiate the sets for the viewer.) Why does a consummate patron of the arts like Callamander lounge in a darkened stage-set with spotlights, instead of in a drawing room surrounded by masterpieces? (Because they didn't want to spend the money to dress the set.) Why does this most brilliant of masterminds not know—when everyone else on the planet seems to—that if you remove the MacGuffin from deep-sea pressure, it will explode into a gas that kills you? Since that's what makes the MacGuffin so valuable, how could he not know that? (Because the script was rushed into production before they ever figured a way around that.) In the tag, how can West claim to the reporters that he and his partner dynamited the mouth of the cave, protecting the world from toxic gas, when one minute before we've just seen the pretty pink gas escape into the atmosphere? (Because nobody thought we'd notice or care.) In fact, except to give us a needless redemption scene as a tag, what are the reporters doing in West's varnish anyway? The man is a secret service agent.

I know others will say I'm just being picky. No. Even with escapist entertainment, I want the producers to treat me intelligently, as in the first and most of the second season they did. Don't suggest that the mysterious Mr. Callamander is the world's greatest mastermind, then send him marching into a cave like an idiot. Don't tell me that Mr. West is America's "secretest secret agent" of them all, when any villain could pick up his dossier from their morning papers. And, as Roger, points out, don't show me somebody's permanent–waved, blown–dry hair, after he's been Australian crawling underwater.

1/2
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Herr Ostropolyer
SS 1st assignment - desk job

USA
209 Posts

Posted - 03/07/2006 :  14:50:36  Show Profile
Hey all,
Excellent reviews as always. TNOT Turncoat is a personal favorite of mine as well, more of a guilty pleasure because it was certainly rushed, as eloquently put by ccb.

The highpoint for me is seeing Jim as a rogue agent, even though this is very short indeed. I love when Jim punches Artie right in the face after Artie has complained about Jim's remark about the Service. I love how Jim is depressed and is drowning his sorrow in drink. However, it is clear to anyone that the two discolored glasses that Jim fires at the bartender are obviously breakaway glass.

I thought Marj Dusay's Crystal was truly evil and the most believable of Calamander's cronies. I for one can never believe that Jim would beat up a man of the cloth, so that character is pretty weak. However, When Crystal fakes being beaten by Jim just in the nick of time before Col. Richmond and Artie are on the scene, I truly feel that Calamander is a villain not to be reckened with. If I was either Richmond or Gordon, I too would have thought Jim may have gone too far. Priceless scene that makes Jim West, rogue agent very interesting.

I too am a little disappointed that it was all a set up job by the Secret Service. The set up job helps to cause the biggest plothole in the story. The allowing of the press into Secret Service matters. If the service believed Jim went rogue, I think logically they would not have advertised that he was once a member of their branch, thus Calamander should already be suspicious.

I like how we know nothing about the mysterious Calamander. For once The Secret Service has nothing to go on. However, this character is ruined for buying into the Secret Service ruse, and for not knowing that the vial would not explode when the pressure changed.

I absolutely hate Artie's new tatoo. I think it shows how devoted an agent he is in trailing West, but when this Mcguffin causes continuity for the rest of the series, (we never see the tatoo again) I'm against it. I also had problems with Artie knowing when Jim would show up to the resteraunt, but it is priceless that he has carbon copy under the tablecloth, in order to read Jim's code.

I also did not like the ending where both hordes of villains die at the hands of the vile. I wish they either shot it out or if the vile had a different deadly property, like deadly explosive, they blew each other up accidentally.

This could have been 5 out of 5 stars, but for giving away the identity of your greatest secret agent:
4 out of 5 stars.

Herr Ostropolyer

"Come one and all to see BECAUSE SHE'S YOUR SISTER SON at the Haymarket Theatre."- Artie covering up Jim's "tiff" with a Preacher in an elevator in TNOT Turncoat
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couldron
SS novice field agent

1438 Posts

Posted - 03/07/2006 :  22:16:13  Show Profile
Everything that is said about the plot holes are true so probably this should be added to my guilty pleasure list.
quote:
I like how we know nothing about the mysterious Calamander. For once The Secret Service has nothing to go on. However, this character is ruined for buying into the Secret Service ruse, and for not knowing that the vial would not explode when the pressure changed.


I don't think Calamander was fooled. He never believed that Jim was a turncoat but I do believe he thought he could be crafty enough to use him and then dispose of him.

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Herr Ostropolyer
SS 1st assignment - desk job

USA
209 Posts

Posted - 03/08/2006 :  15:47:45  Show Profile
quote:
Originally posted by couldron

Everything that is said about the plot holes are true so probably this should be added to my guilty pleasure list.
quote:
I like how we know nothing about the mysterious Calamander. For once The Secret Service has nothing to go on. However, this character is ruined for buying into the Secret Service ruse, and for not knowing that the vial would not explode when the pressure changed.


I don't think Calamander was fooled. He never believed that Jim was a turncoat but I do believe he thought he could be crafty enough to use him and then dispose of him.





Wow couldron, I never thought of it that way before. Sadly, it doesn't gain my review a star. The star is still gone due to Jim's secret service title not being so secret due to the press stories. It's still a guilty pleasure for me none the less.

Herr Ostropolyer

"Boys I'm do for a long and much needed vacation, and I'm just happy about the whole thing.", "Jim that last comment was unnecessary..."- Jim discussing with Artie how necessary his last comment was with a punch to the face in TNOT Turcoat.
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