This week's Ghost Squad begins with an insight into what Nick Craig does with his precious leisure time. It seems he's no stranger to drinking alone at his local pub, and on this particular visit he chivalrously picks up a purse for the young lady who's dropped it (Ann Lynn, an actress who was everywhere around this time). On his way back up, he has a less-than-chivalrous peek at her legs.
By the way, this episode's called Sentences of Death, a title which for all its relevance might have been picked out of a hat. Personally I would have called it While You're Down There, as when Craig returns to his drink he finds there's something funny about it, taking a sip and promptly collapsing.
It turns out the doctor isn't a doctor at all: he and Ann Lynn's character are lovers who've got hold of a truth serum (she works for a real doctor) and, having pumped Craig for information on Tony Miller's latest mission, are issuing Ghost Squad with a blackmail demand for £40,000. It's quite interesting to have the adventures of our two regular agents intersect in this way, but the only other interesting thing about the episode is that the baddies are based in... a caravan! Craig manages to locate it, and stakes it out in the slightly ridiculous guise of an Irish tramp (perhaps he's a fan of The Arthur Haynes Show).
Can Stock and the police find him in time? Probably, but they all need a fag first.
This week's Human Jungle edges unusually close to Ghost Squad territory with a tale of cold war dirty tricks.
Grey and Bennett have a confrontation which ends with the Lieutenant telling the Sergeant Major he'll be court-martialled for his behaviour. The most remarkable thing about this scene, however, is a formidably ugly piece of set-dressing in the shape of a guitar-wielding statue of Bacchus.
Back in London, an old army friend of Dr Roger Corder's ropes him in to assisting at Bennett's court martial by examining Grey's fragile mental state. Corder's initial doubts about getting involved are increased when he realises that Bennett was in fact his very first psychiatric patient, during the war. Worried he'll be seen as an old army comrade coming to Bennett's aid Corder tries to back out, but the machiavellian General Fielding has already leaked Corder's involvement to the press in order to prevent this. Fielding, who admits himself to be a politician rather than a soldier, is a fascinating character. He's determined Corder should help exonerate Bennett in order that the army not be cast in a bad light: "I don't want the army to be this week's public villain." And if he has to compromise Corder's ethics and make Grey out to be a paranoid lunatic that's all by the by. He's played by Peter Williams with the same avuncular charm he brought to the role of Secret Beneath the Sea's Captain Payne, but here there's steel hiding just beneath that friendly surface. And Herbert Lom, brilliant as always, perfectly conveys Corder's discomfort with both the job he's been trapped into and working with someone as utterly ruthless as Fielding.
Our expectations are subverted, though, as rather than himself it's the dodgy pair who set him up that Bennett points it at. Can he be stopped before he does something foolish?
In its setting and subject matter A Friend of the Sergeant Major is a departure for The Human Jungle, but Lewis Davidson's script's as intelligent as we've come to expect from this show, and its placing of PR at the head of the military's agenda is as pertinent now as ever. The information we get on Corder's past pleasingly fleshes out his character, preventing him from being just an omniscient problem-solver. In fact, not for the first time, Corder's actions (here, his goading of Bennett into facing what he's done) may even have made the situation much worse.
Next week there's a new addition to our Saturday night entertainment roster with the return of ITC adventure series Man of the World.