Responsible for a string hit shows in the mystery, espionage, and mystery genres, like The Avengers, The Saint, and Danger Man, Britain's ITC (Incorporated Television Company) Entertainment also produced Man In a Suitcase (1967-68) a series that lasted for just one season, producing 30 episodes featuring Richard Bradford as an ex-intelligence operative named McGill. The series had been previously released as an import, but is now available in Region 1 DVD. This release contains the final 15 episodes in the series, and is accompanied by a second set with the first 15 episodes.
In the first episode of the series, it is learned that McGill (no first name stated) was an American agent who was disgraced about six years previously, and is regarded by some as a traitor. McGill discovers that his reputation was sacrificed as part of a scheme to plant agents behind the iron curtain. Rather than endanger those operatives, McGill chooses to remain in disgrace. He makes his living doing investigative work, and other jobs that usually involve intrigue, and danger. The title of the series comes from McGill's somewhat nomadic lifestyle, as he frequently travels from place to place carrying his worn tan suitcase.
McGill may travel light, and doesn't always go first class, but he is seldom in dire financial straits. Even with a tarnished reputation in some circles, McGill seems to have no shortage of employment opportunities, and is sometimes selected to be the fall guy. McGill is ruggedly handsome, but has some rough edges, and lacks the refinement and sophistication of a Simon Templar. His prematurely graying hair makes him look older. Because he has received a raw deal, McGill often has a huge chip on his shoulder, and his headstrongness seems to cloud his judgment at times. He can be a fierce fighter, but still takes a number of beatings, and is also badly wounded on several occasions. This may add an element of realism, but fortunately McGill appears to be a fast healer.
Operating as a lone wolf, and only occasionally employing high tech "Bondlike" gadgets, McGill is a tough operator who has a tendency to be stubborn, and doesn't always take the sensible course of action. Similar to Danger Man, the series has as a dark cynical tone, with very little humor. McGill was apparently originally conceived as more of a light hearted wiseguy, but Bradford preferred taking a more dark, low key approach, and also changed his lines without approval, which apparently didn't endear him to many in the writing and production staff.
The adventures are set in mostly European locations, and feature a lot of variety, from different types of crimes, to political intrigue, to international espionage. The episodes are generally well written, and pretty lively. For those acquainted with other ITC series from the era, the subject matter will seem quite familiar, as will many of the guest stars. And become accustomed to the series' downbeat vibe, and McGill's at times sour attitude, the lack of happy endings won't be as much of an issue. McGill may never be the most popular guy, but his determination and personal integrity are admirable.
Albert Elm's music and cues for the series, are very reminiscent of Edwin Astley's work on The Saint. Image quality is quite good for a program over forty years old. Unlike the import release which contained some substantial extras on each disc, this Acorn Media collection is a bit skimpy on extras. In this reviewer's opinion, the writing in the series improves as the series progresses, and the stories in the later 15 episodes are a bit stronger overall, than those in the first set. Given a choice, Set 2 would probably be the one for the casual fan to consider first. For the really hardcore fan, the import release (Man in a Suitcase: The Complete Series), with the additional bonus material, would be the one to look for. Be advised that these episodes are not subtitled, and you will need a region free DVD player that plays DVD's in PAL format.
For those that enjoy ITC Productions' mystery and suspense programs, Man In A Suitcase is a series that is well worth your time. Similar to The Baron (1965-66), ITC was hoping that an American in the lead role, would result in commercial success when broadcast in the USA, but unfortunately neither series garnered a substantial audience, and were cancelled.