The New Professionals

Episode 2 - Phoenix

       Oh dear. Looks like I spoke too soon...

       I found this episode incredibly irritating, full of inconsistencies and the sort of inconsequential detail that makes me think 'so what?'...

       Was there a point to Malone's pronouncement about Chinese food?.
       Or Keel's 'cute but not that cute' comment to Backus?
       What was that strange silver ball-like object Curtis threw to Keel (or was it the other way round?) before he kicked the door down?
       "Can you imagine Malone as a junior?" "Can you imagine the devil as a bouncing baby boy?" (Actually, yes I can and once wrote a story about it, but that's beside the point...) Are they really implying that Malone is a devil to work for? Malone? Surely not. Cowley, yes - but not Malone. He's too polite, for one thing. He wears stripy suits, for another (purely a personal opinion, but I always think the TV's vertical hold's on the blink when he appears in one of those.) And he hasn't yet bawled anyone out. In fact, in the first episode, he seemed to be congratulating Keel on behaving like a thoughtless idiot and nearly blowing them all to bits. Not my definition of a devil...

       Would a professional hitman like Phoenix really be daft enough to make a great target of himself by standing in the doorway of his hideout?
       More seriously, Phoenix was 31 when he died (1950-1981 on the plaque on his mausoleum). His son must have been around the same age in this episode - which would make him about 11 years old when Phoenix died! At that age, would he really be able to - eventually - recreate himself in the image of his father, complete to the voice? I find that improbable. (His hero-worship does explain his single-minded devotion to his father's memory, however, and his skewed vision of Phoenix as a freedom-fighter rather than a mercenary killer. His expectation that he will be treated justly is peculiarly childlike, and fits reasonably well with his bizarre self-image. I suppose. But I'm no psychologist...)

       "Why would Libya be paying for what's really a personal vendetta?" Yes, I wondered that myself. The short answer (which Malone should have realised all along) is that of course they aren't. (Let's promote Backus to Head of CI5... Maybe that's a little unfair. After all, when a nasty piece of work like Phoenix appears to have risen from the grave and come back to haunt you, it's bound to throw you off your stride. A bit. I guess.)

       My first thought (regarding the DNA matching) was that Phoenix had an identical twin brother who had dedicated himself to continuing the 'family business', so to speak - but since that didn't explain why he hadn't aged, my next thought (especially since it was made clear that the blood and bone had been through only the most preliminary of tests) was that Phoenix had a son. Seemed obvious to me...

       Wasn't the scene with the NATO jets just a teeny bit iffy? Would fighters really fly that close to a Hercules? Looked a bit dangerous...

       And why is it that interfering with the coffin would have been such a sensitive issue when they thought it contained the original Phoenix, but is perfectly acceptable when they discover his son is hiding out inside? OK, so to start with they weren't sure who was playing Phoenix - but they knew someone was, they'd seen him. And they seemed fairly certain he was hiding out in the coffin. So if opening the coffin and disturbing the rest of a devout Muslim was unnacceptable before they received the information that Phoenix had a son, why isn't it afterwards? They still couldn't be absolutely sure there simply wasn't a corpse inside. And why indulge in the Serbo-Croat chit-chat? I would have thought it unlikely that any speech could be heard clearly from inside a coffin - and in any case, even if Phoenix did come out fighting, where could he go? There are three armed men watching him like the proverbial hawks.

       Why on earth did Curtis and Keel have to go and check out the body of the original Phoenix? We already know it was "charred beyond recognition", so what exactly was a personal inspection of the grave supposed to accomplish?
       Ah, sorry, I forgot. Of course, it was to give Keel the chance to step on another explosive device! Do I see a pattern establishing itself here? How many different ways can Keel endanger himself and his colleagues by not taking sufficient care where he sits/stands/takes a leak?
       And look! Another graveyard! (I could make a really naff joke about the graveyard running gag rearing its ugly headstone but I won't. Ooops.)

       As you've probably gathered, I wasn't too impressed with this episode. It seemed oddly haphazard, and there were places where it felt as though the creators were deliberately parodying the original series - unsuccessfully, in my opinion (1). It may be, of course, that Sky 1 showed an edited version of the programme, in which case I can excuse some of the lack of internal coherence. Nevertheless I found it dissatisfying, and that saddens and disappoints me. Well, let's see what next week brings.

© 1999 Joules Taylor.

As people who are familiar with The Professionals will know, there were just a few episodes with incoherent plots, entirely implausible action, and a less polished standard of acting than was usually the case. Such episodes were found principally in season four (and a few in five), when - I believe - everyone was running out of steam. But for The New Professionals to deliver such a thing as their second episode is worrying, and doesn't bode too well for the rest. Still, it's early days. I'll grit my teeth and stay optimistic...

© 1999-02 WordWrights.

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