Thursday, 14 November 2013

Thursday 14 November 1963

As befits such a title, The Glowing Eggs of Titan is Space Patrol at its most sublimely bizarre, and includes the show's most hilarious dialogue since that visit to Uranus.  It all begins with Colonel Raeburn enjoying an interlude of peace between galactic crises.  It doesn't last long though - before he knows it a very agitated Martian president's on the video blower: "Space around me, I spoke too soon!"

The president is a very tetchy, cross-eyed fellow who announces that there's an energy crisis on Mars: water, the planet's only source of electricity, has dwindled to an amount where it's no longer possible to keep power supplies going.

Raeburn visits Professor Haggerty to see if he's got any solution to the problem, but all he gets is a lecture on hydro-electric power.  "You make me feel very stupid, Professor," the Colonel sighs.  "You are, Colonel" the Professor reassures him.

Meanwhile, Galasphere 347's experiencing a power crisis of its own, and makes an emergency landing on Titan, Saturn's largest moon, for repairs ("What does it look like, Husky?" "It looks titanic!").  Husky pops out and fixes the problem in a jiffy, and brings back a souvenir: a giant egg.  Captain Dart's less than impressed with this acquisition until the lights go out prior to the crew entering the freezer, and it's revealed that the egg gives off a mysterious glow: "That egg's as bright as Sirius!"

On Earth, Raeburn has some suggestions for energy conservation on Mars that send the president into apoplexy.  If all private homes had their energy supply cut off there'd be enough to run essential services...

"People can't sit in the dark and freeze!"
"They can use gas for heat and light."
"They won't stand for that! This is the year 2100 and, and Martians will not go back to the gaslight age!"
"What about candlepower?"
"CANDLEPOWER?!" (cuts off contact)

Having arrived back on Earth, Dart's desperate to show Raeburn his new discovery, and disregards Marla's warnings that Colonel Raeburn is not to be disturbed, bursting into his superior's office.  "I had to see you!" he cries.  "NO!" the Colonel forcefully snaps.  "But I brought you an egg!" the captain plaintively cries.  Convinced Dart's gone crazy with space sickness Raeburn orders him out: "Not till I've switched out the lights!" (Dick Vosburgh, who provided the voice of Larry Dart, was a comedy writer who worked with the Pythons among others, so I'm sure he appreciated Space Patrol's frequent absurdities).  Raeburn is indeed vastly impressed when he sees the glowing egg:  "I can't wait to see Professor Haggerty's face when I show him this egg!"

Haggerty, promptly breaks into it: "Me scientific curiosity wouldn't give me no peace till I found out what was inside it.  The unshelled egg proves even brighter, and the Prof suggests it could be painted on ceilings to provide an alternative to electric light (with black roller blinds fitted for when you want it dark.

If more eggs could be got hold of they could  a solution to the Martian crisis, but Raeburn's worried the president won't be keen: "He didn't want to use gas or candlepower, I only hope he doesn't mind using eggs."

Indeed there is some initial resistance - "Egg light?! Are you out of your mind, Colonel?" - but a swift rebranding to titanite sees him become more receptive.  Now there's just the problem of getting more eggs.  Dart, Slim and Husky are dispatched to Titan once more ("You brought back the egg, now you've got to bring back the bird!" orders the Colonel - truly words to live by).  Slim waits aboard ship as the others scout around to no avail.  But suddenly Slim hears a strange humming sound from outside, and goes to investigate...

The accident-prone Venusian trips and breaks his space helmet, and only just manages to get a message to the others to come and rescue him.  His oxygen supply's fast running out (though this doesn't stop him from interminably talking to himself), but he manages to crawl into a cave where he sees a most peculiar sight.

"I've heard of hummingbirds, but never hummingdogs!" gasps Slim as he catches sight of these bizarre, floating animals.  Fortunately, they prove to be very friendly, flying over to greet him when he starts singing (they only like tenor voices though - they get scared when he attempts a baritone).

These are the creatures who lay the glowing eggs - yes, that's right, they're dog eggs.  Dog eggs with the power to save Mars.

Dart and Husky find Slim just in the nick of time.  The hummingdogs are more than happy to accompany the crew back to Earth, and fortunately they produce a constant stream of glowing eggs: "These hummingdogs are even more fertile than rabbits!" as Professor Haggerty observes.  The people of Mars will be illuminated once more, and Dart even presents Raeburn with his very own hummingpuppy.

You can watch this lunacy unfold here.

Now, I wonder where Simon Templar's travels have taken him this week...

Thanks for that.  Yes, the Saint's loafing about outside a café in the eternal city, holding forth about the terrible inequality between rich and poor in the city, when here comes a blind beggar to prove his point.  And there goes the blind beggar being hit by a car.

Having seen that the man's killing was intentional, Simon decides to track down the men responsible.  To do this he enlists the help of an old chum, taxi driver Marco di Cesare (Warren Mitchell, doing the funny foreigner bit that most of his pre-Till Death us Do Part screen appearances consisted of.

It's not long before they spot one of the drivers of the car, now hassling a beggarwoman into joing something called the Beggars' Protection Association.  This young hoodlum's played by Oliver Reed, who's highly menacing as well as broodingly beautiful - but the part's not really much of a stretch for him.

The thug gets away, but Marco manages to waylay the beggar, who in reality turns out to be beautiful actress Teresa Mantania (Yvonne Romain, who, trivia fans, played Oliver Reed's mother in Hammer's The Curse of the Werewolf).

Simon recognised the beggarwoman as Teresa as it's a costume she wears in her current play.  She'd taken to walking the streets in it as research, and became so intrigued by tales of the Beggars' Protection Society and its mysterious leader, known as the King of the Beggars, that she took it upon herself to seek out and expose the villain.  She bears a personal grudge, as well: the beggar killed at the beginning of the episode was a friend and former co-star who fell on hard times after losing his sight.

Simon insists he'll take over Teresa's mission, and dons a beggarly disguise of his own.  The first people he approaches in his new persona are American millionaire Stephen Elliot (John McLaren) and his lady friend, the glamorous Contessa Dolores Marcello.

A philanthropist who gives away millions a year to help the poor, Elliot's stricken with guilt about both his own luxurious lifestyle and the fact that the money he contributes doesn't seem to make much difference.  The Contessa tries not to think about the poor if she can help it.

It's not long before Simon's approached by Reed and his crony Charles Houston.  Forced to agree to joining the association, he's driven (blindfolded in case his lack of sight's just an act) to meet the King of the Beggars.

No revelation's forthcoming though: Simon's destination is just a deserted warehouse where he's greeted by a recorded message from the king instructing his latest "associate" where to deposit half of every day's takings.  The voice has an American accent, which is clearly meant to nudge us into thinking Elliot's the villain - as is the fact that the location given is a hostel Elliot owns.

The following day, Marco's able to work out where the warehouse is, and he goes back with Simon to give the heavies a taste of their own medicine...

But before they can find out any useful information, Houston ends up dead from a bullet shot at Simon by Reed, who escapes once more.   Later that evening, he spots a theatre poster that gives him an idea.

Simon visits the hostel, where he's subject to the frightening attentions of Maria Calvetti (gargantuan Jessie Robins).  As he lies comatose from a drug she's slipped him, Teresa is kidnapped from the theatre, and in turn she, too, becomes Maria's prisoner.

Simon manages to both incapacitate and humiliate Oliver Reed by giving a demonstration of his judo skills in front of an appreciative crowd of beggars, paving the way to the final unmasking of the King of the Beggars...

Why it's only the bleedin' Contessa!

In truth, this doesn't come as a massive surprise, partly because most of her dialogue has consisted of mocking Elliot for his plans to help the needy, and partly because she was really the only other possible suspect.  However, it's good to see a strong female baddie, and Maxine Audley makes for a perfect slinky villainess.  Anyone familiar with her only from her best-known role as Anna Massey's blind, bitter, chunky-cardigan-clad mother in Michael Powell's Peeping Tom may be surprised to see just how sultry she was capable of being.

One thing about The King of the Beggars that does come as quite a surprise is Ronnie Corbett's small part.  Or rather, Ronald Corbett, as he's credited here.  He plays an employee of the theatre listed somewhat disconcertingly in the credits as "Call Boy".

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post and wonderful blog, I really like this type of interesting articles keep it u.
    Toshiba Laptops