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Mr. Palfrey of Westminster: The Complete Collection
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He describes himself as "just a civil servant." But in the cloak and dagger world of the British security services, mild mannered Mr. Palfrey (Golden Globe® nominee Alec McCowen, Travels with My Aunt) is an invaluable player in the spy game. A master of counterespionage and a spy catcher extraordinaire, he's smart, discreet, cunning and likes to do things his own way.
His new boss quickly realizes the talents and the dangers of the deceptively charming, utterly ruthless Palfrey. Known simply as "the Coordinator" and splendidly played by Caroline Blakiston (Brass, Scoop), she appoints an assistant (Clive Wood, Pillars of the Earth) to work with Palfrey but report back to her. As always, however, Palfrey has his own ideas.
Alec McCowen plays Palfrey to perfection in this stylish British spy series seen on public television and featuring guest appearances by Julian Glover (The Young Victoria), Leslie Phillips (Chancer), Richard Johnson (The Camomile Lawn), and Deborah Grant (Bergerac).
Due to the age of these programs and the improved resolution that DVD provides, you may notice occasional flaws in the image and audio on this DVD presentation that were beyond our ability to correct from the original materials.
"Alec McCowen plays [Palfrey] to perfection" -- The Times, U.K.
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Top Customer Reviews
DVD: 3 discs in regular size case with cardboard protector. Excellent Transfer.
Story: Set during the cold war shortly before the Berlin wall crumbled,, Mr Palfrey is a quiet nondescript man wearing a British hat and carrying an umbrella, but beneath that deceptively placid manner Palfrey is describes by his ememies as "a cobra".
A new Coordinator, the first woman, is promoted over Palfey and not knowing him begins by setting him the task proving the man she's chosen is a mole. Palfrey insists on working "his way" stating "I usually find the spy". The plot becomes intriguing as Palfrey ignores her instructions and does his job his way. I don't usually reccommend half hour TV shows even if they did appear on PBS because there's insufficent time to develop the plot, but in this series Palfrey's plots follow twists and turns from Russian defectors to moles or traitors in Westminster. Given that this is a cold war series and we no longer worry about the Russian menace, the series is fascinating as Palfrey maneuvers through the red tape of government, ignores his boss while remaining politically savy and sleauths his way to rooting out the enemy within.
From the box: "He describes himself as just a civil servent, but in the cloak and dagger world of British security services, mild-mannered Mr Palfrey(Alec McCowen) is an invaluable player in the spy game and a master of counter espionage and spy- catcher extaordinaire, he's smart, discreet, cunning .... His new boss (Caroline Blakiston) quickly realizes the talents and dangers of the deceptively charming, utterly ruthless Palfrey.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
10 episodes, each about 50 minutes. SUBTITLES have been added for those who like using them. Plenty of British stars join the series as guests.
Series 1-Episode 1 ONCE YOUR CARD IS MARKED
Palfrey's surprise new boss is female, known only as the Coordinator (Caroline Blakiston-"The Forsyte Saga","Wives and Daughters","Scoop"). Palfrey must find and secure a diplomat, Mr. Springer, believed spying for Soviets. A spy or scapegoat?
1-2 THE HONEYPOT AND THE BEES
Air Vice Marshal Conyers (Richard Johnson-"The Robinsons"), defense official, & a young Czech girl disappear. The Coordinator assumes there's a supreme security risk.
1-3 THE DEFECTOR
Palfrey cautions the Coordinator about announcing a Russian author's, Volkov (Julian Glover-"The Young Victoria","Wish Me Luck") defection. Is it just a trap since the KGB gets involved? Also Yelena (Deborah Grant-"Bergerac","Crown Prosecutor"), a Russian acquaintance of Palfrey gets into the scene.
1-4 A PRESENT FROM LEIPZIG
A Russian 13th Century icon is found by the Coordinator even though never reported stolen. Why? And why is an E. German visiting a Brit industrialist?
Series 2-Episode 1 FREEDOM FROM LONGING
Blair (regular, Clive Wood-"London's Burning","Press Gang") is called in to help investigate Martina (Estelle Kohler-"The Main Chance"), a Czech woman with who he once had an affair. Is she a Russian spy? Palfrey questions Blair's involvement. Martina's breasts get exposed for a few seconds, the only reason for the box warning.
2-2 RETURN TO SENDER
Returning after defection to the Soviets, spy Rupert Styles (Leslie Phillips- "Chancer","Ruth Rendell Mysteries") is assigned to Palfrey for silencing. As always, Palfrey has his own way of doing things. Nikolai Baliev (Clive Francis-"Poldark","Sense and Sensibility","Lipstick on Your Collar")is involved. Excellent episode.
2-3 MUSIC OF A DEAD PROPHET
Palfrey is assigned to sabotage a book publication revealing a 1950's Iranian assassination. Of course it's a gov-cover-up. What to do?
2-4 OFFICIAL SECRET
Palfrey is to stop a past government man from telling the media that there are continuing double agents at work in Britain. Yelena is a defector under state protection. McNair (David Quilter-"Grange Hill","Lilies") is responsible for her safety. There is an omelet-size bit of romance.
Palfrey's trailing a space engineer, Madison (David Baxt-"We'll Meet Again")that the CIA believes is spying for the Soviets. A computer connected "Star Wars" battle game leads to clues and suspects.
2-6 THE BAITED TRAP
Coordinator is tipped off by a Soviet that there is a double-agent, namely Bob Sanding (Jim Norton-"The Boy in the Striped Pajamas","Nanny"). Palfrey is assigned to check it out, even though palfrey is wary. Nikolai (2-2) rekindles contact with Coordinator, for what ends?
I apologize for the review length. There is a lot of spy story in this set.
The show is very slow and each story plods on as it would in real life at least in 1984-86. They technology is of that time and so are the cold war worries. It's interesting to remember that the terrible cold war would be over in 7 years only! Noone in 1986 could see this happening! These type of spy stories are very much real ones that had played out over and over through the decades and for people to complain about how slow they were shows that they have no REAL KNOWLEDGE of spycraft. Sure they were some gunfights and big operations but mostly men ran little ops trying to ensare the other side. A good case of this is the story of the defecting author. IS he for real?
and obviously even if he isn't it's not a huge victory for the soviets to plant a man who will later return and say the west sucks. But that is how things really were back then! Each little op was such a thing. Of course at the time of this show it was only just revealed about the evil american turncoat who was working for the soviets for money. The people who died because of him were all soviets too. In such a world of spying even little victories of any kind were tried. THis show has a bureacrat for it's lead! that's not usually done. But fans of action films or high drama who can't take slow plodding spy work , which is most of it usually , may want to avoid this one.
In All Of The Ten Episodes//Each Episode Is A Gem/The Director Knew What He Was Doing With The Pacing/I Still Can't Get Over How Great This Series Was///I Don't Know Why They Only Did 10 Episodes//I Could Have Watched Another 90 Episodes/I Wonder Why Only Ten/By The Way I am So Glad That They Added Closed Caption(Subtitles)If Anyone Of You Who Like Spy Dramas// Then
you Will Find Mr.Palfrey Completely Fresh And This Is Really Something To Watch//
Stanley Cooper Jupiter Florida