ORBzine - The Champions TV Review

The Champions

1st Series 1968

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 1] The Beginning
Shown 25 Sep 68
Reviewed 17th August 2006 [Thursday]

Our heroes are a trio of Secret Agents who steal evidence of illegal germ warfare experiments being carried out in Red China. However, their escape plane crashes in the Himalayas.

When they awaken, their injuries have healed. More, they have heightened scene and physical prowess, and a special psychic bond.

Richard goes off to discover the cause of all this. Turns out it was all a reference to Strange Horizon .

Evil Chinese officer Burt Kwouk ( Water Margin ) is on the prowl. They must escape him, and return to Geneva.

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 2] The Invisible Man
Shown 2 Oct 68

Craig (Stuart Damon - Space: 1999 ) and Richard (William Gaunt - La Femme Musketeer (2004) ) work out in the same gym as Dave Prowse ( Star Wars ). Then they are assigned to investigate suspicious goings-on in the International money market. This is decades before modern Money Laundering legislation, but they suspect someone is planning a major gold heist.

Peter Wyngarde ( Flash Gordon ) and his sidekick have already robbed the bank by convincing the manager that he is being stalked by an invisible man.

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 3] Reply Box No. 666
Shown 9 Oct 68

A Soviet demolitions expert is murdered in Jamaica. Craig (Stuart Damon - Space: 1999 ) goes undercover as his replacement. The contact verification is a newspaper advert involving Reply Box No. 666.

Richard (William Gaunt - La Femme Musketeer (2004) ) and Sharron ( Alexandra Bastedo ) are Craig's backup, though they do not do much to help him. Sharron has powers of hypnotism, though this is not enough to break the will of a well-trained agent.

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 4] The Experiment
Shown 16th Oct 1968
Reviewed 13th December 2005 [Tuesday]

There is no explanatory intro to this ep, but exposition can be picked up from the ep itself.

A super-strong acrobat breaks into a secret base in Salisbury Plain. However, his mind reverts to a childlike state before he can steal anything. He is placed in the care of Doctor Farley (Nicholas Courtney - Dr Who ).

To investigate, the British Government calls in Nemesis. They are based in Switzerland, but have British staff. Their two best men are called to investigate.

Meanwhile, the third member of their unit, Sharron Macready ( Alexandra Bastedo ), is sent to London for leave. She is redirected to a Safe House which looks like Grimm's Dyke, purportedly run by British Intelligence - DI6 rather than MI6. There, along with spies from other Western Agencies, she is given special tests. The people in charge have access to her file, and know she has special skills.

Sharron and her Nemesis colleagues were given their superpowers by the unknown race of Shangri-La. Now it seems that a scientist has discovered a way to replicate the powers. Unfortunately his process burns out its subjects after half an hour of use.

The story may seem to have a few plot holes, but all the threads are tied up with at the end. In other words, it is quite well done.

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 5] Happening
Shown 23 Oct 68

Richard (William Gaunt - La Femme Musketeer (2004) ) has gone off on a solo mission. The good news is, he uncovers some enemy agents up to no good. The bad news is, he acts too soon - one of the enemy gets away, while Richard is left with amnesia. Worse, he is in the middle of the Australian outback.

It turns out that the characters are on a nuclear test site, at ground zero for a test that will happen in an hour or so.

Craig (Stuart Damon - Space: 1999 ) and Sharron discover what has happened to Richard. Unfortunately Tremayne and the senior military staff do not pay any heed to the warnings that these top Intelligence agents provide. Yes, the fact of Richard's disappearance is in itself a strong indicator that the test has been sabotaged. But rather than delay it in order to investigate, the military want to plough on regardless. This leaves the Champions in the position of having to sabotage it themselves, to prevent the nuclear detonation going catastrophically wrong.

This is the first of two episodes written by Brian Clemens, creator of The Avengers .

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 6] Operation Deep-Freeze
Shown 30 Oct 68
Reviewed 21st September 2006 [Thursday]

A nuclear explosion is detected at the South Pole. Three search parties go to take a look, and none of them return alive. Finally, Craig (Stuart Damon - Space: 1999 ) and Richard are sent to investigate.

Walter Gotel, recognisable as KGB General Gogol in the James Bond series, stalks the men across the frozen icecap. Meanwhile, Sharron ( Alexandra Bastedo ) sits around in Tremayne's office. At least she ignores the boss's dismissal of her instincts, and tries to send out a search party.

They discover a secret base, run by a hostile Third World country. General Gomez (Patrick Wymark - The Blood on Satan's Claw ), the man in charge, speaks with a Russian accent - but all the signs are written in English! Presumably the banana republic behind this operation is Argentina, whose fascist empire invaded the Falkland islands a decade later.

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 7] The Survivors
Shown 6th Nov 1968
Reviewed 3rd January 2006 [Tuesday]

A group of SCUBA divers go exploring in a lake in the Austrian Alps. Unfortunately some middle-aged Germans with WW2-era weapons take a dislike to them.

Craig Stirling and Richard Barratt go exploring, hopeful to find a cache concealed by the SS in 1945.

Sharron Macready ( Alexandra Bastedo ) asks questions in the nearby town. The locals, of course, admit any Wehrmacht links but are keen to disassociate themselves from the SS. She is awfully mature for a 19-year-old, but the fight scenes are still unconvincing.

Though the subject may appear dated, the episode was originally broadcast in 1968 - less than twenty-five years after the end of the war!

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 8] To Trap a Rat
Shown 13th Nov 1968
Reviewed 10th January 2006 [Tuesday]

Nemesis are called in to stem the international drugs trade in London. Specifically, to intercept a new batch of pills that have been contaminated with deadly impurities. Sharron ( Alexandra Bastedo ) goes undercover to follow junkie socialite Kate O'Mara back to her dealer.

This may seem a rather conventional plot for a scifi show. The villains' network uses secretive handover techniques usually seen in spy films. Small wonder that the script was originally written for Danger Man !

William Gaunt as a tough-guy? Patrick McGoohan would have carried it off much better! There is a camera-shot on a playground roundabout that is straight out of The Prisoner . And they discover the villain's HQ by phoning him and listening for ... The Chimes of Big Ben !

Craig (Stuart Damon - Space: 1999 ) shows an extremely protective attitude towards Sharron. But she is the smart one of the trio!

And finally ... the boss gets suspicious over details left out of the final report. The trio make unconvincing excuses, no doubt making him even more suspicious.

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 9] The Iron Man
Reviewed 17th January 2006 [Tuesday]

An exiled former South American dictator is targeted for assassination by his sucessor, an even NASTIER South American dictator. The Champions are sent in undercover to the villa near Barcelona. Craig (Stuart Damon - Space: 1999 ) as the bodyguard, Sharron ( Alexandra Bastedo ) as the secretary and Richard as the chef!

Steven Berkoff ( Children of Dune ) has one of his earliest roles, as Carlos.

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 10] The Ghost Plane
Shown 27 Nov 68
Reviewed 10th May 2007 [Thursday]

The team are sent to the Cayman islands, off the coast of the USA. Their mission is to locate a crashed plane and retrieve a portable radar jamming device.

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 11] The Dark Island
Shown December 1968
Reviewed 31st January 2006 [Tuesday]

A USN search party is ambushed on a remote desert island. The trio are sent in to uncover the villains' plot and rescue any survivors.

It turns out the villains are involved in a plot similar to The Dark Crusader, Dr No, You only Live Twice ... in other words, pretty generic stuff.

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 12] The Fanatics
Shown December 1968
Reviewed 7th February 2006 [Tuesday]

Richard (William Gaunt - La Femme Musketeer (2004) ) goes undercover as a convict, in the hope that the real convict's accomplices (including Julian Glover - For Your Eyes only ) will rescue him. Unfortunately, to verify his identity the accomplices decide to torture him!

This ep allows Tremayne the opportunity to do something interesting. He was always wasted in his little book-end appearances, and this fleshes him out a bit more.

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 13] Twelve Hours
Shown December 1968
Reviewed 14th February 2006 [Tuesday]

The Greek PM visits Holy Loch in Scotland. Richard and Sharron ( Alexandra Bastedo ) are responsible for his security. But unfortunately someone tries an assassination attempt - aboard a nuke sub!

The sub is trapped on the sea floor with 12 hours of oxygen. Sharron and Richard must perform emergency surgery on the PM. Meanwhile Chief Engineer Mike Pratt ( Randal and Hopkirk, Deceased ), with his blonde hair and South African accent, plots mutiny.

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 14] The Search
Shown December 1968
Reviewed 21st February 2006 [Tuesday]

The show has a tendency to recycle plots and props. This episode is no exception, with Nazi WW2 veterans aboard a submarine!

Someone hijacks a NATO sub, equipped with nukes. And like James Bond in Thunderball , Craig (Stuart Damon - Space: 1999 ) is sent to recover the nukes!

When Craig runs into trouble, Richard and Sharron ( Alexandra Bastedo ) must step in to save him.

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 15] The Gilded Cage
Shown 8 Jan 69

Richard is kidnapped and kept in a luxurious apartment. His captors somehow know that he once decoded a very difficult cypher. They want him to decode something for them ...

Craig (Stuart Damon - Space: 1999 ) tracks Richard down single-handed. Sharron ( Alexandra Bastedo ) pops up at the start, clad in a bikini, and delivers some good advice.

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 16] Shadow of the Panther
Shown January 1969
Reviewed 21st March 2006 [Tuesday]

A Nemesis Agent dies mysteriously in a hotel in Haiti.

Sharron ( Alexandra Bastedo ) is sent to investigate. She meets friendly Canadian Donald Sutherland ( Don't Look Now ).

When Sharron does not contact HQ, the boss sends in Craig (Stuart Damon - Space: 1999 ) and Richard.

A witch-doctor is hypnotising people. Can the Champions' superpowers save them?

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 17] A Case of Lemmings
Shown January 1969
Reviewed 11th April 2006 [Tuesday]

Three Interpol Agents commit suicide. Nemesis is called in to stage an impartial investigation.

The Champions discover that the dead Agents all participated in Mafia cases. However, they only have a couple of days to solve the mystery.

Sharron ( Alexandra Bastedo ) goes undercover as a sexy gangster-groupie. She looks the part in a big-hair blonde wig.

Can Craig's superpowers defeat a suicide-inducing drug?.

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 18] The Interrogation
Shown January 1969
Reviewed 18th April 2006 [Tuesday]

Craig (Stuart Damon - Space: 1999 ) returns from a solo mission in Hong Kong. He wakes up in a cell, where he is interrogated by a masterful manipulator.

The interrogation, a mix of halucinogens and mind-f*cks, is excellent.

The ending is emotional and original, for its time. In these more cynical days, it feels slightly less powerful.

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 19] The Mission
Shown January 1969
Reviewed 25th April 2006 [Tuesday]

Someone is running a face-change clinic (in an English Country mansion) for on-the-run crooks. Like ep The Champions [Season 1, Episode 7] The Survivors , this features Nazi War Criminals on the run.

Craig (Stuart Damon - Space: 1999 ) and Sharron ( Alexandra Bastedo ) go undercover as a gangster and his moll. Craig gets a creepy pencil-moustache, while 19-year-old Sharron looks a lot older when she has too much makeup on.

Richard poses as a tramp, and gets himself selected as organ-donor by the villains.

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 20] The Silent Enemy
Shown February 1969
Reviewed 2nd May 2006 [Tuesday]

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 21] The Body Snatchers
Shown February 1969
Reviewed 9th May 2006 [Tuesday]

Richard investigates mysterious goings-on at a remote mansion. Bernard Lee ( Dr No, Live and Let Die ) is behind an evil plot.

Illegal clinic in an English country mansion? This is just like The Champions [Season 1, Episode 19] The Mission .

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 22] Get Me Out of Here!
Shown February 1969
Reviewed 16th May 2006 [Tuesday]

A lady scientist is held under house arrest in Cuba. The trio must bust her out and get her to USA safely.

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 23] The Night People
Shown March 1969
Reviewed 23rd May 2006 [Tuesday]

A poacher in the grounds of an English Country mansion is attacked by KKK men with a voodoo doll.

Sharron ( Alexandra Bastedo ) goes to Cornwall for her vacation. None of the locals speaks with a regional accent, but she does not seem to notice.

Craig (Stuart Damon - Space: 1999 ) and Richard are in Haiti, perhaps cleaning up after The Champions [Season 1, Episode 16] Shadow of the Panther . They return to England and search for Sharron, but she is MIA ...

The locals fear that the rich folk in the mansion are into witchcraft. Not Paganism, more of a 1960s flower-power white-witch thing. With voodoo dolls!

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 24] Project Zero
Shown March 1969
Reviewed 6th June 2006 [Tuesday]

Someone is recruiting top military scientists from the UK, for a secret project. A bit like in Dark Crusader by Alastair MacLean.

Richard goes undercover, posing as a scientist. But using his real name!

The villains' security is so good that the others cannot follow. So they go undercover themselves. Good job, too, since Richard gets an explosive collar ...

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 25] Desert Journey
Shown March 1969
Reviewed 13th June 2006 [Tuesday]

A small landlocked country in the Sahara, bordered by Algeria and Libya, is victim of a terrorist plot. Well-organised agents attempt to assassinate government official Roger Delgado ( Dr Who ).

Sharron ( Alexandra Bastedo ) dresses as a party-girl, to seduce a playboy who is also the exiled King!

Sharron and Craig (Stuart Damon - Space: 1999 ) transport the playboy across the desert, facing treachery and ambush.

This ep has high production values, and though there may be stock footage it blends well with the primary scenes.

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 26] Full Circle
Shown March 1969
Reviewed 27th June 2006 [Tuesday]

In England, a burglar breaks into a foreign embassy and photographs some documents. When arrested a few minutes later, there is no sign of the film.

Craig (Stuart Damon - Space: 1999 ) and Richard go undercover in prison to folow the burglar and find the film. But the ambassador has hired an evil Mr Steed and Mrs Peel duo to break the burglar out as well!

Sharron's intro scene at the start comes from a previous ep. She gets a couple of scenes half way through - Tremayne sends her to help Richard, who then sends her back to HQ. In fact we see less of her than we do of the huge fountain in Geneva - the spray must be two hundred feet high!

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 27] Nutcracker
Shown 2 Apr 69
Reviewed 11th October 2007 [Thursday]

A British Government VIP is caught breaking into the M7 vault in London, trying to steal secret NATO files. M7 calls in the Champions to test the security of their vault. Strange coincidence, because the vault's security system is so complex that only the Champions' secret powers could possibly defeat it.

The Champions realise that the break-in was an inside job, so they start snooping around. And like so many other episodes, one gets captured and has to be rescued!

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 28] The Final Countdown
Shown 16 Apr 69
Reviewed 1st August 2006 [Tuesday]

A Lufwaffe Air Marshall is released from a Russian POW camp. He gets together with his hard-core Nazi buddies, and tries to get a WW2-era superweapon.

The Champions have to locate and defuse a nuclear bomb!

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 29] The Gun-Runners
Shown 23 Apr 69
Reviewed 8th August 2006 [Tuesday]

In the Burmese jungle (or a sound-stage with a few tropical plants) a police expedition to recover some WW2 rifles is massacred by schmeisser-wielding Mafiosos.

The Champions are sent to outsmart an English arms dealer who is betraying his country by arming Commie rebels.

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode 30] Autokill
Shown 30 Apr 69
Reviewed 15th August 2006 [Tuesday]

A sinister organisation is brainwashing Nemesis Agents, then sending them to kill the Agency's senior staff. This time Tremayne is not just the book-end exposition man, he is an important part of the plot!

The Champions The Champions [Season 1, Episode ]
Reviewed th August 2006 [Thursday]

The Champions

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