Buy "No Exchange on Damaged Merchandise" and all the other episodes from
I Spy Season 1
Comments from The I Spy Forum continued
Date: 7/29/01 4:12:45 PM
In so many ways an excellent episode! In the beginning we are given a backward glance at a Hong Kong assignment, but it is obvious Kelly and Scotty are in JAPAN - very smooth series crossover. The multi-layered story line keeps the viewer interested and off-guard throughout the story. The prelude was shocking with the fake accident, a set-up, but the REAL unexpected surprise is the baby-toss from the window.
Again, that perfect blend of humor and pathos from the creators and also a lot of charming ad-libbing between Kelly and Scotty. Kelly's rigid non-divergent plan to get his $3.00 back gives a nice voice-over touch to the story, But we see the pathos as we are introduced to frantic Louise, trying to get her husband back- also Kelly's old friend. Mako makes a brief but memorable appearance as their contact although I was appalled when he began to shove his father around.
Local colour was used dramatically- one was never bored with the parades, the street-vendors because they all added to the story: ie the porno salesman, the parader setting up the puppet rendezvous. I enjoyed so many lines `the streets were made radiant by Scotty's presence,` `you spelled pink with a `u`", the signaling incident on the Star Ferry, the puppet show, silly but still very charming. I did not need to hear was "he's been shot" when we already heard the gunfire. Did anyone notice Soon Taik-Oh (who made many appearances on Magnum PI) announce the exotic dancer?
My favourite scene is the beachside scene, again due to Culp's acting. one minute he is bantering about his possible demise (...`tell Nancy` . . .) then Scotty's rejoinder (` what about Cathy and all the rest of them?`) The next moment Culp's smiling face changes to shocking intensity, and we see crystallized an expression of unutterable naked longing. He cups her unseen face in his hands, the camera LOVES him, and the viewer has no doubt he would give anything to have what her husband has with her. An exquisite moment- indeed my only recollection of that whole episode was THAT moment.
10 out of 10
Author: Colonel Boris Benkovski
Date: 7/30/01 11:58:18 AM
No Exchange on Damaged Merchandise. Where to begin?
First, I will say that I love this episode, it is my favorite of the Hong Kong filmed episodes, and one of my three favorites from the entire First Season, along with "The Tiger" and "Three Hours on a Sunday". It is definitely on my "Top-ten episodes" list. In many ways I see this as THE quintessential episode, the most typical of the entire series, and the one where most of the parts came together in one enjoyable sum. There are episodes that have more suspense, or that have more humorous banter throughout, or that have more profound writing. There are episodes that explore in more depth and make stronger points about the many facets of human emotion - friendship, loyalty, patriotism, love, hate, desperation. There are episodes which are more insightful as to the human cost of the cold war, the ambiguities of the world of espionage, and what toll that constant exposure to danger takes on human psyche. But this episode is a sampler tray of all of the above. I think you would be hard pressed to find another episode which offered so many of the various elements which made I Spy the program that it was.
Many of my favorite episodes include a segment where Kelly and Scott are engaged in the "legwork" aspect of their profession, searching for a person, thing or answer to a mystery through the streets, bars and businesses of one of the world's great cities. In episodes that feature this activity (No Exchange, Three Hours on Sunday, Blackout), the use of location filming is at its best. Kelly and Scotty's search through Hong Kong is like a mini-travelogue, especially with Culp's voice-over narration during the first half of the episode. And the voice over in this episode was terrific. The plot device of sending in a report to be reimbursed for damage to personal property in the line of duty as a background for voice over narration is very imaginative. We discussed the pros and con`s of narration before, and I Spy used this device infrequently, but when they did, they always had an imaginative twist on it, as in No Exchange, as in Return to Glory and as in This Guy Smith.
The banter in the hotel room is among the most enjoyable in the entire series. These scenes in the hotel were the first time that a whole scene in an episode was devoted to the verbal by-play between the two stars. I liked Kelly's stubborn insistence on the "principle of the thing", Scotty's
weary exasperation at his friend's obsession but his willingness nevertheless to help, the shared narration - Culp in the first half, Cosby in the second half, with his more humorous writing style (I love that line that begins with "Finding the proper Pink..."). And as SAM mentioned, I like it that they were in Japan relating a Hong Kong incident, it gives continuity to the series, especially if the episodes are watched in the order in which the production team obviously intended. The only other time we actually see them in transition from one long-term locale to another is in "The Beautiful Children".
The scenes of Hong Kong, and the terrific characters they meet in their search really make the episode full of flavor. I especially like Lee Pink/Leo Pinks, and the scene where the chubby toy store salesmen is chasing them all the way down the street trying to get them to buy the kite is one of the funniest in the entire series. Erich Thorsten, though he has little screen time, is really a well played and fairly complex villain. Wholly without scruples, cold and ruthless, yet he still is something of a philosopher. Of course he spent too long talking to Kelly and Scott when he should have just shot them, but that is a staple of the spy-fiction genre. Kurt Krueger did a splendid job with his one short scene. Mrs. Richardson - a somewhat annoying character in that she is complicating matters by being where she doesn't belong, but you can understand her frustration and admire her devotion. Kelly's protective attitude toward her, because she is the wife of his old friend, is touching. So is Scotty's attempt to cheer up Kelly when they leave the consulate office and are discussing how to proceed in their search. I also enjoy the scene inside the consulate, when the receptionist mentions Scotty's football career, and Scotty looks at Kelly and says with mock disdain - "Tennis" and rolls his eyes.
Mako as Jimmy, the bar owner and seller of information is a good character who appears in an even more helpful position in The Loser. Like SAM, his treatment of his father is a little disturbing, but he makes up for by assisting Kelly and Scott in the fight with the two sailors. And Soon Taik Oh, who has appeared in so many films and tv shows, did a great jog with that one line he had introducing the dance, he sounded exactly like a tired and jaded nightclub emcee in a dead end job. Thorsten`s girlfriend was pretty and devoted, and the actress player her did well.