Last updated : 26th October 2002
|Episode Title||Operation Susie|
|Story Synopsis||Why is a British Government department trying to kill a group of drug-dealing students?|
|UK Episode #||E02|
|UK Tx Date||14 November 1982|
|Production #||Block 4, Ep 12|
|Approx Filming Dates||17th - 28th November 1980|
|Guest Stars||Harold Innocent, Alice Krige, P H Moriarty|
Fantastic episode! The complex, twisty plot never allows itself to be sidelined in favour of the usual fast-moving, explosive action. In many ways this is the perfect Professionals story. If ever the mooted movie is made, this ep could be a strong contender for big-screen adaptation.
The opening scenes are violent and essentially set the tone for the rest of the episode - that of a the head of a shady Government intelligence department desperate to kill off the witnesses to a murder during a bungled drugs raid.
There are some question marks over the plot's credibility, however. For example Diana and her gang don't look like they could tackle a corrupt traffic warden, never mind an entire South American government! We never know Northcott's true motives - why is he siding with the Escondians? And why are some of his subordinates prepared to be accessories to treason? The "politics" behind the story are glossed over rather quickly in the script - you have to listen carefully to understand what's going on there...
In fact the tragedy of the story is that much vital expositionary dialogue in the orginal script had to be cut in the final edit for the episode to fit the 50-minute slot. For example the scene between Cowley and Summerfield was originally about twice as long and would have gone a long way to explaining both the Escondian situation and Northcott's motivations.
However if you can excuse these little flaws, this is still a great episode in many ways. Cowley's fight against Government bureaucracy to protect the students is well-scripted and believable. The action scenes are good, the lads work together very well (with the occasional little burst of humour, too) and the action is relentlessly fast-paced.
Fave scenes include the opening (and rather alarming!) shoot-out, Harris chasing Diana and Rudi through the hospital, ultimately leading to a shoot-out (Laurie's simple but effective music adds greatly to the tension here - and the same theme is used again when the lads take to railway sidings) and the rescue from the hotel which leads to... oh...errr...yet another shoot-out!!
The guest cast is on top-form as usual - even those with very minor parts such as Jim Wiggins (as Dr Roberts). Maggie Henderson is a great foil for Cowley - pity she wasn't used in other eps.
But Just who is Susie?! Actually the episode title may be a sly reference to a huge police investigation in 1976 called 'Operation Julie' in which a ring of drug-dealers in rural Yorkshire were under surveillance. I haven't a clue who Julie was either!!
Oh, and whatever happened to Maggie Henderson?
"Anticipate interference with maximum prejudice!"
This one has a very complex plot and needs to be watched carefully, otherwise it's possible to misjudge George Cowley's behavior. Given the complexity, I think it ought to have been a two-parter.
Doyle is gorgeous throughout. The dark jacket and scarf, the curls, the slightly thinner face. Ah.
Bodie's a bit "puffy", though it may be the clothing he wears. Nevertheless, I rather prefer him that way, so it wasn't a problem for me.
Listen to the banter in the first part during the scene where they're starting investigation at the university – lovely, witty stuff with that gentle casual familiarity which makes the pair so believable as long-term partners.
The "interrogation" scene with Diana and the trio is excellent from the point of view of dialogue, camera work and acting. Well, well done on all parts. Miss Krige is quite good throughout, though her character is made rather flat. Again, a longer teleplay might have fixed that problem.
Judging from the dialogue, this is not the first "Operation Susie" the boys have been through. Again, no back story, leaving us wondering.
Bodie seems to have a bit of a death-wish toward the end, though once the shooting's over, he restrains Doyle.
Some lovely close ups of faces and, uh, other parts. Doyle's jeans provide some magic moments.
Not a favorite episode, but worth fast-forwarding through once you've seen it just to watch Our Lads. Very beautiful.
Northcott and Smith hold their first meeting just opposite Turnpike Lane tube station, in the Wood Green area....
Northcott is later seen emerging from the tube itself. (Both pics kindly supplied by Sue Curtis)
The lads take Diana to Nine Elms Freight Yard, Battersea, SW8.
In the railway carriage scenes, the actors appear to occasionally change positions between cuts. (Thanks to Mark Gibbon)
Alice Krige's (Diana) career was just starting to take off when she landed this role, having had her TV debut in a BBC adaptation on A Tale of Two Cities in 1979. Immediately after filming Susie, she had a small part in Chariots of Fire and then a leading role in the American movie Ghost Story with Fred Astaire. Returned to the UK in the 1990s to star in the popular swashbuckling (actually what exactly is a "swash" and why would one desire to buckle it??) TV series Sharpe. Probably best remembered as the Borg Queen in a couple of Star Trek movies, though.
Ewan Stewart (Rudi) popped up as a terrorist in Who Dares Wins. Still acting today but nothing particularly high-profile.
Maggie Henderson (Jane) was a regular on Eric Idle's Rutland Weekend Television, guested in shows such as Hazell, presented a few kids' shows in the late seventies but then practically disappeared from acting altogether.
Robert Morgan (Philip, who barely lasts sixty seconds into the episode!) started his TV career in Roman epic I, Claudius. Usually plays psychopaths/villains in stuff like Spender, BUGS and the great comedy caper Nuns on the Run.
P H Moriarty (Harris) starred in Scum, Quadrophenia and The Long Good Friday but struggled to maintain a decent acting profile throughout the 80s. His fortune changed, however, when he was cast as Hatchet Harry in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
Jim Wiggins (the doctor who attends to Rudi in the hotel) will be familiar to fans of 1980s Brookside. After the producers made the fatal mistake of dumping most of their best characters, Jim moved into rep and a major tour of Me and My Girl (which Mr Shaw had toured with several years earlier) but, surprisingly, was seldom seen on TV again. Passed away in 2000. (Thanks to Kerry Wiggins)
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