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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Adventure > Spy > Antiques > British TV > The Baron – 40th Anniversary Special Edition (1966 – 1967/Umbrella Entertainment/Region Zero/PAL)

The Baron – 40th Anniversary Special Edition (1966 – 1967/Umbrella Entertainment/Region Zero/PAL)


Picture: C+     Sound: C     Extras: B-     Episodes: B-



PLEASE NOTE: This DVD can only be operated on machines capable of playing back DVDs that can handle Region Zero/0 PAL format software and can be ordered from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment at the website address provided at the end of the review.



The Saint was such a huge hit for Sir (later Lord) Lew Grade that you cannot blame him for trying to recapture it while the original show was still an international hit.  When RKO dropped The Saint after so many hit films, they launched The Falcon, but this new series was a carbon copy of the first series of films and creator Leslie Charteris successfully sued the studio over it.  Grade got the rights to John Creasey’s John Mannering aka The Baron (played by American actor Steve Forrest) and would go all out with the show by securing top talent, shooting the show in color for the first time on any ITC show (even before The Saint) and ITC’s highest production values.


The result was not as generic as The Falcon, but was not a big hit either, only lasting for 30 hour-long shows.  There are other similarities too.  Edwin Astley did the theme song, The Baron logo is a crown that could almost be The Saint’s halo and The Baron also acts as an independent agent, though in an amusing twist, is involved in the world of valuable antiques.  The result is that many stories are centered on them.  The show has dated in some odd ways, but the writing, acting and pace hold their own in unexpected ways.  Forrest was not bad in the role and part of Grade’s long time fascination with making a hit with an American star, but this was not to be in this case.  Forrest never had such a show again, but continued for decades after as a solid character actor.


The shows hold their own against The Saint, but they do not stay with me as well as the better Saint shows, yet the talent behind the show was strong.  Originally, Paul Ferris was cast as David Marlowe, The Baron’s confidante, but the Americans wanted a character played by Sue Lloyd to stay and to lose Ferris.  To keep Lloyd alone was a mistake as she became “the girl” despite being introduced as a spy, but not the most able-bodied one.  I personally always liked her and her appeal is undeniable.  The chemistry between her and Forrest is not bad, but not great, like Saint female guest stars that sort of worked.


Terry Nation was hot off of early Dr. Who success when he became the Story Consultant on this show, writing the majority of the episodes.  Not as unique as his later work, it is still very decent writing.  Dennis Spooner wrote most of the rest, Brian Clemens of The Avengers wrote a few teleplays himself and Harry W. Junkin of The Saint wrote for the show too.  Monty Berman produced and the great directors include Roy Ward Baker, John Llewellyn Moxey, Jeremy Summers, Don Chaffey, Cyril Frankel, Gordon Flemyng, Robert Tronson, Leslie Norman and Robert Asher; some of the best gentlemen British journeyman directors ever.  Hot guest stars included Lois Maxwell, Bernard Lee, Peter Bowles, Philip Locke, Annette André, Sam Wanamaker, Jeremy Brett, Peter Wyngarde, Sylvia Syms and Edward Woodward of Callan and The Equalizer.


The 1.33 X 1 image is pretty consistent and decent throughout, with good color, which helps when you get some noise or bad visual effects or other flaws here and there.  This is a good-looking 35mm-shot series with top cameramen as Director of Photography like Gilbert Taylor (B.S.C.) and James Allen.  16 X 9 TV owners can zoom in on the image and will be surprised how good this looks widescreen, as it was shot theatrical film safe.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is clean, but not as loud and clear as I would have liked, so though it is good, you have to be careful of the levels you play it at as there is some distortion and compression throughout.  Astley’s title theme song is amusing, but almost too upbeat for an action series.


Extras include episode introductions by Wyngarde, Clemens (see The Maze, which he did under a pseudonym) on their shows you can access by simply going to the episode selection menu for their respective shows and André (on camera), trailers for the features cut together from episodes of the show, a video trailer for the show, French title sequence, text and stills from the ITC archives, an episode guide on the back of the DVD sleeve, a black & white hour-long Saint episode with Lloyd entitled “Luella” and audio commentary tracks on select shows with Lloyd, Production Supervisor Johnny Goodman, Director Baker and Director Frankel all worth your time.  This show has not been seen in the U.S. since the early 1970s if that and is long overdue for rediscovery.  Good thing this DVD set is in print.



As noted above, you can order this PAL DVD import exclusively from Umbrella at:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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